Extinct Animals Should Stay Dead
Mar 30 2013
Stewart Brand, likely blabbing about his unsettling scientific ideals, via Flickr.
Stewart Brand and his team of mad scientists want to bring extinct animals back to life. While we're at it, why don't we have the Olympics on Mars? Why don't I have a carbon-fiber toilet seat? Oh yeah, because those ideas would cost a shitload of money and everyone everywhere is broke. Surely it would be cheaper and better for the environment to preserve the flora and endangered species that we still have.
Money isn't everything, of course. Some view de-extinction as a moral responsibility—to extend an olive branch to the planet that we've fucked up so badly. However, my glass has been half empty since before I even took a sip. And so, I see two possible outcomes.
First, there's the absolute worst-case scenario: we bring back our extinct species, but since we hunted them to extinction, they seek revenge. Then there's the slightly less-worse-case scenario: we make them live in misery, or even relive the misery of their original existence and cause them to go extinct again.
Ultimately, science doesn't get funding unless someone out there can make tons money off of their work, and the only way to make money off of extinct animals would be to exploit them somehow. That just seems cruel considering we've killed off these poor creatures once already. So here are five animals that Stewart Brand and his associates want to bring back from the dead. Stu, you know I love ya, but our world is shitty enough that I'm not sure you'd be doing them any favors by making them come out of retirement. And to be perfectly honest, some of these animals weird me out, and I'm glad they're dead.
A woolly mammoth at Victoria BC's Royal Museum. via Flickr
Great! Woolly mammoths! Where the fuck are we going to put them? They weigh a million pounds and everything is melting. Have you seen what's happening to the polar bears? Unless we can clone them with gills, they will drown. That is how they started dying out in the first place. Next.
Part of the reason that the Carolina Parakeet is extinct was fancy ladies' desire to wear its colorful feathers in their hats, while making sweet tea and saying things like “pahdon me” and “I do declare.” We don't need people looking like pirates with tropical-feather hats, and we certainly don't need birds repeating the stupid shit that people from the South say. So let’s leave the Parakeets where they are. In their bird graves.
Oh hello sexy, leggy woman... oh wait, no, it's not a sexy, leggy woman. It's a terrifying, 12-foot-tall flightless bird. Other than modeling in Gillette Venus commercials and freaking me out by popping up outside my second-story bedroom window, this would have no value to me or my needs. The moa is a no-go-a.
The dodo was native to Mauritius, and because it evolved with no natural predators, it had no fear of the humans who swiftly killed them for their succulent dodo meat. Since then, the dodo has become a cliché of the extinct animal kingdom: think “dead as a dodo” or “gone the way of the dodo.” Cloning dodos will change the meanings of those expressions from “It's gone and it's not coming back (way to go, humans)” to “We can fuck things up as bad as we want, and there won't be any consequences!” Besides, there's a chance even Mauritius itself could go the way of the dodo. So ultimately, the extinction of the dodo is a part of our cultural makeup. It would just be too weird to have them flocking around once more.
The once abundant heath hen, not the turkey, was served as the main course at the first Thanksgiving. But it was hunted to extinction for its inexpensive, tasty meat. Although those golden-power-orb glands do look tempting, are we really going to bring this poor bird back to serve it at street-meat gyro stands? If we don't eat it to death again, we'll probably give it a shittier life than ever when we factory-farm it.
Nope. Just, nope. This animal is one big, fat, ten-foot, 880-pound “nope.”
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