Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is this ethical?

These people may be in the same category as the Raelians, but on the other hand it isn't totally implausible: They think they may be able to clone a woolly mammoth using DNA extracted from a specimen preserved in a Russian laboratory, using the ovum and womb of an elephant. (Don't worry, this mammoth is only a few thousand years old. Dinosaurs, except for the lineage that produced the birds, have been extinct for 65 million years.)

Mammoths, like elephants, were social creatures, and this would be the only representative of its kind. There has been talk, by the way, of trying to clone a Neanderthal -- much less plausible since known specimens are older and not preserved by freezing. That seems to me clearly wrong. But how about this?

Not really expressing an opinion, just wondering. The news article doesn't even consider the question.


C. Corax said...

"After the mammoth is born, we'll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors."

Excuse me? Examine its ecology? How the f do they propose to do that? Where are they going to find the other animal species, the environmental conditions, the flora, etc. to replicate its ecology?

Why the species became extinct? Seriously? How will this poor creature's life help them determine whether it was due to habitat loss, over hunting, disease, a biblical flood, or a combination thereof?

Ethical? Hell no!

Since the Neanderthal is (possibly) a different species, why is it more clear to you that cloning one is wrong? Because it appears very human-like? Because Homo sapiens may have Neanderthal DNA? Just curious about why different people draw the line where they do for what's acceptable when discussing human vs non-human animals.

Cervantes said...

The Neanderthal would understand its situation. The mammoth would not. That's the main difference I see.

roger said...

the mammoth might just accept the elephants as family. the neanderthal might well be truly pissed off about growing up weird among "modern" humans. neither experiment seems to advance science.

Cervantes said...

No telling whether the elephants would accept the mammoth, however.

C. Corax said...

"The Neanderthal would understand its situation. The mammoth would not."

Not sure which situation you're referring to: Each creature's uniqueness? That it was cloned? What do we know about Neanderthal cognition? What do we know about mammoth cognition? Elephants aren't exactly dumb. Perhaps a mammoth is as capable of being "pissed off" as is a Neanderthal.