Apparently, it was inevitable.

I’ve always had a passion for genetics. If I were smarter at math and had the patience for tedious research, I’d probably be an evolutionary geneticist, looking at microbial and viral epigenomes and geneomes. (Probably testing my pet hypothesis that viral genetic deposits–i.e. “junk dna”– have a greater impact on evolutionary processes than we heretofore supposed. Probably especially with the influence of the epigenome. ) So I am always excited to read on discoveries in the genetic fields.

Naturally I found the discoveries of the Woolly Mammoth’s genetic extinction quite fascinating.According to the genetic evidence, the woolly mammoth was already in a state of terminal decline when humanity began to hunt them for meat. At one point, the populations diverged into two distinct genetic lines, and later re-merged. One of those lines went extinct before the other, and the remaining line began to show signs of decline. The conclusion: the great mammoths would have gone extinct anyway, regardless of humanity.

This made me think of modern endangered animals, particulary the Giant Panda and the Cheetah. Everyone knows the panda would rather eat bamboo than mate or rear offspring, and the cheetah, sadly, has too little genetic diversity left. It seems extinction is inevitable for these species. Shouldn’t we just let it be, enjoy them while we can, and expend our energies on reviving the populations that actually can be saved?

I’m open to debate.
Rachel

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Apparently, it was inevitable.

  1. I’m glad the question is asked. I personally hate the fact that zoos exist so we can watch what we’ve de-evolutionized (is that word?) I think that as long as WE are not creating the environment for extiction than we should let evolution and extinction happen. But we are a society that loves things to live so. Thriving is a whole other topic. Just my 2 cents.

  2. I’m glad the question is asked. I personally hate the fact that zoos exist so we can watch what we’ve de-evolutionized (is that word?) I think that as long as WE are not creating the environment for extiction than we should let evolution and extinction happen. But we are a society that loves things to live so. Thriving is a whole other topic. Just my 2 cents.

  3. There seem to be two main streams of thought: man is an animal too and any changes wrought by man are part of nature, so any species brought to extinction by our actions (takeover of habitat, climate changed, etc) is just another part of nature and are part of the natural order. The competing line is that as a thinking animal, man has a choice and our choices could be to conserve habitat, so the extinction of species directly related to our actions should be halted or at least some species preservation should be attempted. This applies to plants as well as animals.

    Some would argue one against the other – such as: species have been going extinct for as long as they have been evolving, why should we interfere with a natural inevitable process? The flip side of that argument is that with indiscriminate destruction of habitat we are upsetting the balance of nature that would normally dictate what species evolve and which go extinct.

    I tend toward species conservation especially when man has had direct impact on it’s ability to survive, but only at the level where habitat preservation can be accomplished. Keeping breeding pairs in zoos doesn’t really preserve the species, their genetic diversity is lost and the species will have to be inbred to keep it alive, much less viable. There is some scientific value in have a live specimen to study, but I would think it is limited.

    and that is my 2 cents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s