While plenty of endangered species have had the honour, the Pyrenean ibex has become the first completely extinct species to be cloned from banked genetic material. It didn’t last long, though:
“We are not especially disappointed for the death of the cloned newborn,” Folch explained in an email, because such deaths in cloning experiments are common.
“We will try to improve the technology in order to increase the efficiency of the cloning process.”
Inevitably, the hand of Michael Crichton reaches out beyond the grave and forces the biologists to reassure us that this isn’t the first step on the road to Jurassic Park. More pertinently, the cloned critter’s death (of respiratory failure) demonstrates that the technology for banging out copies of extinct species is far from perfected.
But it begs the question of which species we should attempt to bring back once we’re able – if any. What should the selection criteria be?