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Don’t Let Extinction Go Extinct!!

Why extinction is actually healthy for the world.

Our culture seems to be on a newish craze lately. Everything has a right to life, therefore nothing should be allowed to go or stay extinct. While this is an agreeable idea, there are so many angles to look from that do not agree with it. The concept paints extinction as a horrendous thing that, if humans would just step in and take over for mother nature, would never need to happen. The fact of the matter is that, not only would the world be an incredibly boring static place without extinction, we would not exist without it!

You are probably thinking that I am a crass and horrible person right now and there is no way that I actually care about animals or the environment. I assure you that I have been studying the topic of evolution, and therefore, indirectly the topic of extinction, for years now and currently teach the basics of it in a college lab. My e-mail address would also argue with you considering it has said that I am an “animallover” since I was about twelve. Please, do not get me wrong here, it is wonderful that we are putting so much energy into saving the lives of animals that we, as humans, have ruined. My question is, should we be saving them all? This includes the ones that are already extinct, but we are bringing back to life (that’s right, it’s not science fiction any more).

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My main argument against our most recent efforts is something I will call the California Condor Concept (CCC). The California Condor existed back when megafauna, such as camels and mammoths, roamed the North American continent. Their main food source was the corpses of these large animals as the condors fulfilled the major part of the scavenger role back then. These magnificent birds that manage to exist off cow and deer corpses now, no longer have their intended food source and therefore have had to find another niche to fill. My problem here is that they would not be filling this already taken niche if it weren’t for human intervention. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation supported a paper titled Status of the California Condor and Efforts to Achieve its Recovery where they state that these condors “… survive only through constant human assistance and intervention.” Their original food source that they evolved with is long gone. Granted this is due more to human actions than nature, but it is gone nonetheless and was long before we understood the balance of the ecosystem. As humans, we should have accepted the consequences of our actions (wiping out mammoths, their last food source, in this case), and allowed the California Condor to go its way. Who knows what evolution we have hindered thanks to our attempt to save these birds from a time past?

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Ok, so we saved the condors and their back in the wild now. That’s said and done. So, what about this bringing animals back from the dead thing? Truth be told, the individual animals themselves are not being revived. There are scientists out there playing Jurassic Park with ancient DNA though. In April of 2013, National Geographic wrote an article on the cloning of a Pyrenean Ibex, a goat from the mountain range that divides France from Spain. The clone was born July 30, 2003 after the species went extinct back in 2000. This particular clone only lived for a few minutes, but one can only imagine the progress that has been made in the past fourteen years on the subject given how quickly any of the STEM fields can grow. This brings to question just how many species the human race will inevitably attempt to bring back from extinction, whether they reached that point due to human interference or otherwise. It seems that the fact that the niches these animals filled are probably being filled by a new species is being overlooked. What will they do once they’re back from extinction? What ecosystem will we take from existing species to give to these revived species?

Each paragraph you just read only offers one of the many examples like them that are taking place today. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the fact that we need to work on saving at least some of the species that will inevitably go extinct because we sped up the global warming process the earth typically goes through. It is, after all, because of us that the earth is now warming at a speed that these other organisms cannot adapt and evolve with. When the primary food source or habitat for that animal is gone and they didn’t adapt or evolve with the change though, it is time to move on and focus on the animals that still have those resources available.

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Sources:

https://www.fws.gov/cno/es/CalCondor/PDF_files/AOU-Audubon2008-Report.pdf

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2013/04/species-revival-bringing-back-extinct-animals/

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