Stewart Brand’s Plan To Reverse-Engineer Extinction

Almost 100 years ago, the last passenger pigeon died. The species has been extinct–and notably so–since then. But what if it could be revived? And what about the long lost European aurochs or the bucardo? It’s not necessarily science fiction. It’s something Stewart Brand, co-founder and president of the Long Now Foundation, wants to accomplish–and it might just be possible.

While Brand concedes that it won’t happen soon, there have already been some suprising steps taken. In 2003, scientists successfully implanted embryos of the bucardo–which looked like a mountain goat–into a surrogate mother goat. Though the baby bucardo survived only ten minutes, the future for reviving could benefit entire ecosystems. As Brand explained, if the extinct cow-like species of aurochs could be reintroduced, they could help return environments to meadows.

Last October, a group of 36 scientists who are working on using genomes to try to revive extinct species met for the first time.

These ideas will be explored further at theTEDxDeExtinction will be held March 15, hosted by National Geographic in Washington, DC.

[Image by Maria Aufmuth/TED. ]LK