Will “Jurassic Park” someday be a reality? Well, scientists are working on trying to bring back a variety of extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth, passenger pigeon, and Tasmanian tiger (thylacine). Will they be successful? A new study says . . . maybe, sort of.
This idea of bringing back extinct species is called “de-extinction” and involves studying preserved DNA from an extinct species and editing the DNA of a closely related species (both are part of the same kind, such as the woolly mammoth and African or Asian elephants) to match, as closely as possible, the DNA of the extinct species. But could such a method recreate a species that went extinct?
Sort of. A new study of the genome of the extinct Christmas Island rat suggests:
It is impossible to bring extinct animals back to life exactly as they were . . . Even though researchers were able to recover a very high-quality genome from preserved specimens, it was impossible to recreate many key genes, meaning any resurrected animal would differ in some important ways.
If de-extinction is possible, scientists won’t be able to recreate replicas of extinct creatures. Rather, they would be “functional equivalents” with important differences.
As DNA ages, it breaks into smaller pieces and is hard to reassemble. Of course, the sections of the genome that are the most different from living species are the hardest to reassemble. This means if de-extinction is possible, scientists won’t be able to recreate replicas of extinct creatures. Rather, they would be “functional equivalents” with important differences.
Now, the study’s authors say that the DNA segments that differ the most are the ones that “have been evolving the fastest” and “that the more evolutionary distance there is between the extinct species [and living relatives], the more of the genome won’t be correctly assembled.” But evolution doesn’t have anything to do with the differences between species, living or extinct.
You see, there’s no known process that can create brand-new genetic information. Natural selection and mutations don’t create new information—they work on information that already exists. Information doesn’t come from non-information. This is because matter cannot give rise to information by natural processes! Information is created by an intelligence.
The genetic differences within a kind that allow for the woolly coats on a mammoth and the tiny tufts of hair on an African elephant were likely put there by God in the very beginning. He frontloaded each kind with a tremendous amount of genetic diversity so each kind could thrive and adapt in an ever-changing world. As species go extinct, genetic diversity is lost so these de-extinction scientists are just trying to recover some of the genetic diversity that God created in the very beginning.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.