Thursday, February 3, 2011


Neatorama posted a really interesting and sad article called 7 Animals Humans Brought to Extinction. It included this footage of the last known living thylacine or Tasmanian tiger which died in a zoo in 1936:

I remember seeing that footage as a kid in some PBS nature show and finding it very sad. It's still very sad. It makes me wonder why scientists aren't out trying to clone thylacines or passenger pidgeons or dodo birds. Instead, they're trying to clone mammoths. Sure, humans probably contributed to mammoth extinction, but they died out some 10,000 years ago. Nature's pretty much moved on at this point, but I bet you could find a few people alive today who remember seeing a thylacine or a passenger pigeon at a zoo. Passenger pigeons were so abundant they flew in flocks hundreds of miles long. Then we hunted them to death in about a hundred years. Heartening to know we still live in a country where the USDA kills millions of birds every year. (If that link is too hippie-radical for you, try Reuters: Hundreds of South Dakota dead birds poisoned by USDA.)

Sure, sure, it's probably easier to find usable DNA from a frozen mammoth than dodo bones or pigeon feathers, but somewhere there's got to be a great auk frozen in ice. At least breeders in South Africa are trying to recreate quaggas with some success. In any case, I would think more recent extinctions would be a better use of time than mammoths.


Apparently scientists are trying to clone thylacines. Well that's good.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.