Scientists recreate extinct frogs today, woolly mammoths tomorrow?
MADISON - Researchers at the University of Wales announced this week they will soon be able to breed a frog that had been extinct.
"It's pretty amazing," said David Baum, of the JF Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution at UW-Madison. "And they didn't just create any 'run of the mill' frog, but a frog with a really unique way of reproducing."
The gastric brooding frog gives birth through its mouth.
That in itself is pretty cool, but according to Baum, this also means other extinct animals could soon be re-created too.
"There are some interesting possibilities of using cells from a living animal to basically take the nucleus from an extinct species and let it create a new organism," Baum explained
New animals could be quite a popular attraction for local zoos.
"I wouldn't rule out (the possibility of woolly mammoths at zoos)," Baum said. "I really wouldn't."
Jay Christie, President and CEO of the Racine Zoo, agreed.
"I think it's a definite possibility," Christie said. "It's not inconceivable to think that in our lifetime (mammoths, dodo birds, etc.) could be something you see at a zoo."
What about dinosaurs?
Christie downplayed any thought of dinosaurs popping up in the future.
"The more ancient the species the less likely (it can be re-created)," he explained. "Even the optimists are pessimistic when it comes to animals that were extinct more than 200,000 years ago."
"Pterodactyls and triceratops may have to stay in our imagination."
When or if woolly mammoths ever end up in our zoos, Baum admitted we can expect some ethical questions.
"One might wonder if it matters if a species went extinct due to human activity (like the frog) versus a species that went extinct a long time ago that we had no part of."
Zoos *could* potentially show off these animals. The question will become whether or not we *should.*