Imagine herds of mammoths roaming the open fields and saber-toothed cats prowling around your neighborhood. Science is on the brink of reviving a number of extinct animals – all that’s needed is a good sample of the animal’s DNA. The basic method of reproductive cloning that could bring animals back from extinction consists of taking DNA from the remains of the species you want to clone and inserting that DNA into a cell (preferably an egg) of a related living species. Then, until the day that artificial wombs can do the job, the best method is for the animal’s closest living relative to carry the baby to term.
While clones made this way do exist (the first successful one was Dolly the sheep in 1996) the science of cloning is still in its infancy, so don’t expect your local lab to start churning out saber-toothed cats right away. But if we’re willing to navigate the stumbling blocks inherent in patching back together extinct species, all of the animals on this roster could be up for de-extinction, since we have already accessed their DNA.
Surprisingly, the very last of Earth’s mammoths did not die out until Stonehenge and Egypt’s Great Pyramid had been built. And now, the iconic mammoth is on the brink of regeneration. Scientists have successfully inserted mammoth genes into living elephant cells, creating viable cells containing mammoth DNA with the biological instructions for features such as smaller ears, extra fat and that famous shaggy fur.
Also called the Tasmanian wolf, this creature was the largest marsupial carnivore in the world. This apex predator was the size of a large dog and hunted its way around Australia until its extinction around the 1930’s. Some lab work has already been done in the hopes of reviving the species.