Can we clone any extinct species?

22 July 2014

Question

Can any extinct animals be brought back to life for instance by cloning them?

Answer

George Church (Harvard University) - Cloning is very unlikely in most cases because they weren't properly stored. If they're not properly stored, their DNA is fragmented and they won't be viable the way that the mosses that we were talking about earlier and bacteria are viable. If they're not viable, then you have to read them into a computer and then reprint them out into some living species and change that living species into an ancient one.

Chris Smith - Peter, what do you think about the same question as applies to plants? Can we get anything back to think plant-wise based on what you found?

Peter Convey (British Antarctic Survey) - The same problem exists in that if something is properly dead then the DNA fragments gradually over time. So, the older your material is, the less likely it is that you got much material to clone from. So, with the sort of what we've been talking about, the potential is that you have a very long preserved but viable i.e. undamaged DNA sequence. If that's the case then we do have the ability to bring things back.

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