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.