Saturday, 15 September 2012

The first successful cloning of an extinct species since Jurassic Park

Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica, or Bucardo) became extinct in 2000. The causes of the extinction seem rather mysterious, but suggestions include habitat destruction from overgrazing, hunting, and perhaps climate change.  The tragic detail of the last remaining member of the species being killed by a falling tree adds to the drama. It really is a good example to use in lessons.  It's more cute and furry than the Dodo or the Tasmanian tiger, and certainly more contemporary.

The story has been reported in many newspapers across the globe including The Independent in the UK, Scientific American in the USA, The Olive Press in Spain, and The Times of India. This makes it a great homework research project, and possibly a good ToK presentation subject.  The risks and benefits of cloning are well illustrated. Scientists took tissue samples and created 439 embryos, implanted 57 into surrogate mother domestic goats and one pyrenean ibex kid was born.  He lived for just seven minutes. There are details of other projects to clone extinct species in this newspaper article.

I'll be using this again next year without a doubt.
David Faure