De-extinction is a new and controversial topic that involves resurrecting extinct species from the past. Some of these species’ extinctions were a direct result of human over-hunting, while others were more ‘natural’. Using biotechnological processes, scientists have discovered methods that can make this seemingly science-fiction experiment a reality.

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General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Define de-extinction. Name a Hollywood movie that has showcased the idea of de-extinction.
  • List some species that are in contention for being revived from extinction. For the species you list, find the year or estimated time period that species originally went extinct, and what the possible cause(s) of extinction might be.
  • Why are dinosaurs not eligible for de-extinction?
  • What are the techniques that can be used for de-extinction? Explain the processes needed to bring species “back form the dead.”
  • Do you think that it is a good use of time and money to de-extinct these species, or should the resources be spent on species that are currently endangered? Explain.
  • Are there some species that you think deserve to be brought back and others that do not? Why or why not?
  • If de-extinction is successful, should species be reintroduced to natural habitats? What are some of the complications of this approach?
  • In your opinion, is de-extinction messing with natural selection, and if so, how could this impact current species?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.7)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.6, 3.7)
  • Big Idea 6. Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth (6.2, 6.3, 6.7)
  • Big Idea 9. Humans significantly alter the Earth. (9.7)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Biosphere (16, 17)
  • The Nature of Science (24, 25)

Compiled April 01, 2013, by M. Witter


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