Phys.org | APRIL 22, 2019 | University of Georgia |
This information undoubtedly will disappoint “Jurassic Park” fans, but it comes from an expert—Beth Shapiro, the UGA alumna and evolutionary biologist who wrote the book “How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction.” Shapiro returned to campus April 4 to deliver the George H. Boyd Distinguished Lecture.
During her talk, “Can—and Should—Technology Reverse Extinction?,” Shapiro introduced the audience to the field of ancient DNA and outlined the science required to bring a species back from extinction. Essentially, researchers can’t clone a woolly mammoth if they don’t have access to a living woolly mammoth.
“It is not possible to bring back mammoths, or passenger pigeons, or Neanderthals, or Adolf Hitler, or the dodo, or sabre-toothed cats, dinosaurs, the thylacine, the great auk, the Carolina parakeet, or the gastric brooding frog,” said Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator; and 2009 MacArthur Fellow.
If she had her choice, though, she’d bring back the gastric brooding frog. They became extinct in the mid-1980s, but gastric brooding frogs swallowed fertilized eggs and six weeks later barfed up fully formed frogs.