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De-extinction is about as sensible as de-death

By Corey Bradshaw

Efforts to attempt to bring extinct animals back to life are fanciful.

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On Friday, March 15 in Washington DC, National Geographic and TEDx are hosting a day-long conference on species-revival science and ethics. In other words, they will be debating whether we can, and should, attempt to bring extinct animals back to life – a concept some call “de-extinction”.

The debate has an interesting line-up of ecologists, geneticists, palaeontologists (including Australia’s own Mike Archer), developmental biologists, journalists, lawyers, ethicists and even artists. I have no doubt it will be very entertaining.

But let’s not mistake entertainment for reality. It disappoints me, a conservation scientist, that this tired fantasy still manages to generate serious interest. I have little doubt what the ecologists at the debate will conclude.

Once again, it’s important to discuss the principal flaws in such proposals.

Put aside for the moment the astounding inefficiency, the lack of success to date and the welfare issues of bringing something into existence...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Corey Bradshaw is co-director of The Environment Institute’s Climate and Ecology Centre and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences' Global Ecology Group at The University of Adelaide. This article was originally published at The Conversation.