Is it rude or illegal to break into the backyards of all my neighbors on my side of the street to weed and plant native plants to create a habitat corridor? And also maybe break up all their concrete and plant a couple bur oaks and tear down all their garages and rip up the alley and knock down the neighborhood in order to make an oak woodland adjacent to the Chicago river and reintroduce wolves and mountain lions and give the property rights to the Potawatomi and deextinct mammoths and make hunting sustainable and pull carbon out of the atmosphere and remove the heavy metals from our soil and buy all the children ice cream?

Asking for a friend.


Mammoths vs. Mastodons: 
Can we ‘de-extinct’ them both?

‘Jurassic Park’ is the quintessential ‘de-extinction’ story, a fiction that captured the imaginations of people all over the world. But in the last few years, the research potential examining possibilities of bringing back genomes of extinct organisms doesn’t seem so fictional after all. 

The Woolly Mammoth is a prime candidate for this research both in terms of their close genetic relationships to Asian elephants, as well as the amount of well-preserved genetic material. But what about a group of organisms related to woolly mammoths…? How far can you stretch those genetic relationships, and what else factors into that feasibility? 

Check out the video for more..!

First Animal of the Week!


Dodo ; Raphus cucullatus

About the Species

Dodo birds are some of the most iconic (de)extinct animals! These flightless birds, actually a type of pigeon, stand about 1 metre tall, and are covered in gray and brown feathers. They come from the island Mauritius, which is located in the Indian ocean east of Madagascar.  Like other birds, dodos ingest pebbles to help grind up the food in their gizzard- they eat a variety of fruits, plants, nuts, bulbs, roots, and seeds. First mentioned in 1586 by sailors, they were reportedly fearless of people - and flightless - so they were often hunted. This, as well as deforestation and thus habitat loss, led to their extinction in 1662. Many were sent to Europe and even Asia, sometimes as gifts.Their characterization of being fat and lazy is really a false representation based off of captive birds.

Location in the Zoo

Lazarus, our featured individual, lives in the long-term care section in the veterinary hospital, due to him being geriatric. While usually off-exhibit and away from the public, he does make rare appearances to his fans! You can find dodos at Huxley in the Petting Zoo, located in the Hub.

Fun Facts!

Lazarus was our first ever successfully engineered animal, and thus first “de-extincted” animal, and he’s still alive today! Although old and somewhat arthritic, Lazarus enjoys a peaceful life being spoiled by our vet techs and other staff. He likes peanut butter!

About the Individual

An older fellow, Laz enjoys his pen in the vet’s long term care unit - the same room as the veterinarian and related staff’s desks! He and the other animals in the unit enjoy pampering and attention frequently. Lazarus is particularly spoiled when he gets his blanket (which he likes to bite and poop on) and a small treat of peanut butter. And if it’s a particularly cold day, he may even get to sit next to a small heater and nap. He can be cranky and grumpy at times (OK, most of the time), but we love him all the same. His pen is big enough that he can walk around some, and he also enjoys out-of-pen exercise from time to time, strutting around like he owns the place. Although he certainly has the credentials for it, first engineered animal and all!

Tomorrow is #AskACurator Day!

On September 16, 2015, the American Museum of Natural History will once again participate in #AskACurator day, when curators from hundreds of Museums around the world take to social media to answer your questions. 

Tomorrow from 1:30–3:30, Susan Perkins will be on Twitter (@NYCuratrix) to answer questions about the microbiome. Susan is a Curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, a Principal Investigator at the SICG Genomics Lab, and a Professor in the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. She has traveled to exotic locales around the world for her research, and is the co-curator of the upcoming exhibition, The Secret World Inside You. Learn more about Susan Perkins in this curator profile:

At 4 pm, head to Periscope for a look behind the scenes with Ross MacPhee. Ross is a Curator in the Museum’s Department of Mammalogy and a Professor at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. His leading interests are paleobiogeography, extinction, and cranial developmental cranial morphology, and he is an expert in the science and ethical considerations of “de-extinction.”

Have questions about the microbiome, the science behind de-extinction, or being a curator at the American Museum of Natural History? Start asking now! Tweet your questions @ amnh:


I’ll talk more about this project for a while as it unfolds, but basically at my job at the Field Museum, we have an herbarium with approximately 3 million plant specimens collected from around the world, over a long period of time.

This is leafy prairie clover (Dalea foliosa), a federally endangered plant that lives in four different states, usually in gravelly dolomite prairies. This particular specimen was found on Langham Island (home of the Kankakee mallow) and hasn’t been seen there in over a century. It was probably collected to death by this botanist, in fact. We have three of the five plants he found there in 1872-73.

Myself and some of the other Friends of Langham Island noticed our collection here still has seeds attached, so utilizing THE POWER OF SCIENCE we are going to try and germinate some of these seeds for eventual reintroduction to Langham. Essentially we are de-extincting a genetic line that was prematurely snuffed out due to over-enthusiastic botanizing. We plan on getting the proper permits and using all available information to make this reintroduction a success, including the reestablishment of its known associate species, most of which are also extirpated. If modern human disturbance and destruction result in extinction of a line or whole species, don’t we have a responsibility to try and reverse some of that if we can?

I love the idea that we have so many plants we know have come from populations that are no longer there and we can use this information (or even the seeds of the original plants) to help direct our restoration efforts. Even if these 130 year old seeds don’t germinate, we are still going to do all we can to bring back D. foliosa to Langham. So it can be the most healthy and biodiverse version of itself we can picture.

It’s so much fun to imagine what is possible by looking at what once was commonplace and is now gone. We CAN get hope from loss!


Top 10 science stories of 2013

From the first vat-grown hamburger to the discovery of the world’s largest volcano, scientists pushed back the limits of human knowledge in 2013 and developed technologies that could radically change how we live our lives. 

1. Space sounds revealed Voyager 1 had boldly gone: In September, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft became the first man-made object to leave our solar system and venture into interstellar space. The probe, launched in 1977 with the aim of reaching Jupiter and Saturn, is now over 19 billion kilometres from the sun. Scientists listened in to vibrations in the plasma surrounding Voyager – the sound of interstellar space – after it was hit by a massive solar wave in April. The vibrations allowed them to calculate the plasma’s density, which differs between our solar system and interstellar space, confirming Voyager was no longer in our solar system.

2. Carbon dioxide hit a new peak and human influence on the climate was clearer than ever: In May, levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere reached a symbolic milestone, passing 400ppm (parts per million) for the first time in human history. Just a few months later in September, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found that human influence on the climate system is clearer than ever -we are now 95 percent certain that humans are the cause of global warming. Climate scientists from New Zealand were among the more than 600 scientists and researchers who worked on the IPCC report.

3. Scientists created human stem cells using cloning techniques: In May, researchers used therapeutic cloning to create human embryonic stem cells for the first time. The process involved taking the nucleus – which contains the genetic material – from a normal cell and transferring it into an unfertilised egg with its own genetic material removed. While this approach had previously been used in monkeys and mice, it had never succeeded using human cells. This discovery, described by Australian scientists as “a major breakthrough in regenerative medicine”, could help develop personalised therapies for a range of currently untreatable diseases. However, the process requires human donor eggs, which are not easy to obtain, and raises a number of ethical issues.

4. Do you want fries with that? The world’s most expensive burger was grown in the lab:The world’s first lab-grown burger was cooked and eaten at a news conference in London in August this year – generating headlines around the world. The burger patty – which one food critic described as ‘close to meat’ – was developed by scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands through research funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Starting with stem cells from a biopsy of two cows (a Belgian Blue and a Blonde d’Aquitaine), the scientists grew muscle fibres in the lab. The fibres were pressed together with breadcrumbs and binding ingredients, then coloured with beetroot juice and saffron, resulting in the most expensive hamburger in history at a cost of around NZ$400,000.

5. Doctors stopped HIV in its tracks in the “Mississippi baby”: A child born with HIV and treated with a series of antiviral drugs for the first 18 months of its life was found to be free of the virus more than 12 months after treatment ended. When the infant was 30 months of age, HIV-1 antibodies remained completely undetectable. However, the big question of whether this child, known as the “Mississippi baby”, has truly been cured of HIV remains unanswered. “The best answer at the moment is a definitive maybe”, HIV expert Scott Hammer, wrote in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial which accompanied the research.

6. Redefining mental illness: In May, the new version of the diagnostic reference manual used by clinicians in the U.S. and around the world to diagnose mental disorders was released. The fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the first update in nearly 20 years and followed a decade of review and consultation. It’s publication met with widespread controversy. One of its major changes is to introduce a graded scale known as Autism Spectrum Disorder combining the former four autism-related disorders: autistic, Asperger’s, childhood disintegrative, and pervasive developmental disorder. Elsewhere, several new disorders were added, new suicide risk assessment scales were introduced and the threshold for diagnosing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was lowered. Critics of DSM-5, including New Zealand experts,  argue that it will lead to the over-diagnosis of mental disorders, stigmatising millions of people who are essentially normal.

7. Human liver grown in mouse: Scientists successfully transplanted tiny ‘liver buds’ derived from human stem cells into mice with disable immune systems, staving off the deaths of the animals. The preliminary results, published in Nature, will need years of follow-up research and trials, but hint at a potential solution to the worldwide scarcity of human livers available for transplant. Major technical hurdles have to be overcome before the treatment is useful for humans, including mass-producing the trillions of human iPS-derived precursor cells to even replace even part of a human liver.

8. A king turned up in a car park: In February the bones of Richard III were discovered in the inauspicious surroundings of a car park in Leicester, England – more than 500 years after he died. Radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, DNA and bone analysis all helped confirm the identity of last Plantagenet king. As if the indignity of being dug up in a car park wasn’t bad enough, further research revealed Richard was infected with roundworms in his intestines.

9. The croaking dead: An Aussie frog was resurrected: Australian scientists announced in March that they had succeeded in growing early stage embryos containing the DNA of an extinct frog. The research is the first step of Project Lazarus, which aims to bring the Australian gastric-brooding frog back to life. The scientists took nuclei – which contain the extinct frog’s DNA – from frozen tissue samples collected in the 1970s. The nuclei were injected into donor eggs from a distantly-related frog, and some of the eggs went on to divide and grow into embryos, reviving hopes for an animal that has been extinct since 1983. The research was listed as one of Time magazine’s top 25 inventions of this year

10. The world’s largest volcano was discovered: In September, scientists discovered the largest single volcano on Earth under the Pacific Ocean. The megavolcano spans 650 km – similar to the distance between Melbourne and Canberra – but don’t worry, it’s been slumbering for the last 145m years. Scientists had thought the volcano, known as Tamu Massif, was a series of volcanoes, but the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program – of which Australia is a partner – showed that it is in fact a single, immense volcano, constructed from massive lava flows that emanated from the volcanic centre to form a broad, shield-like shape.


How to Resurrect a Wooly Mammoth on DIY TV

Scientists are getting closer to bringing back extinct species. But is it a good idea? In this illustrated explainer video, Daren explores the how, the why, and the what of de-extinction.

The Mammoth Cometh

Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.

The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals. At 14, he saw a photograph of a passenger pigeon in an Audubon Society book and “fell in love.” But he didn’t know that the Science Museum of Minnesota, which he was then visiting with a summer program for North Dakotan high-school students, had them in their collection, so he was shocked when he came across a cabinet containing two stuffed pigeons, a male and a female, mounted in lifelike poses. He was overcome by awe, sadness and the birds’ physical beauty: their bright auburn breasts, slate-gray backs and the dusting of iridescence around their napes that, depending on the light and angle, appeared purple, fuchsia or green. Before his chaperones dragged him out of the room, Novak snapped a photograph with his disposable camera. The flash was too strong, however, and when the film was processed several weeks later, he was haunted to discover that the photograph hadn’t developed. It was blank, just a flash of white light.

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Watch on

Bringing back extinct animals! 

I’m going to be posting a few of these vids, a little overhyped, Ich weiss, but I find these things facinatting and I enjoy listening to them while cleaning the house or writing letters! 


Copy Cat - why scientists in New Orleans are cloning wildcats

anonymous asked:

What's your opinion on the de-extinction project ?

Holy shit how do you want me to explain that I suck at explaining things in English, especially when it’s a long answer.

Okay then.

I don’t know.

I think it’s amazing how science can bring back to life like, wow, I can’t even imagine. And it would be awesome to bring back early extinct species to life, so our children and grandchildren won’t just see all those in books or in documentaries, see ? It opens so many new paths for science and that’s great

and terrifying at the same time. This is like playing gods and I don’t think it can be a good idea.

Here is the whole real problem about it : ecosystem.

Nature is fragile as fuck, we all know that. There’s the food chain and everything is connected ( in the great circle of life ) and we also all know what can happen if you introduce a new species in an ecosystem. It can, alone, fuck it up.

I heard about the wild pigs, or the scorpions fishes, or even the squirrels, I don’t know, ANYTHING, really. Introducing a new species can be dangerous and this is something we need to really think about before taking any decisions. Of course, all those examples above weren’t introduced on purpose, but still, you see my point.

What if we re-introduced mammoths ? I read the biologist Sergueï Zimov suggested we let them be freely in a park he made in Siberia, I think. And from what I read, this didn’t seem like a bad idea, but who fucking knows ? We can’t plan how Nature would react.

And if it was only about herbivores, it would be great but they also plan to reborn the sabertooth tiger ? The sabertooth tiger ? No. Herbivores is one thing, don’t bring carnivores into this, what are you thinking ? What next, the Megalodon ? Seriously.

From what I heard, they want to reborn some birds species that went extinct just a few decades ago, like the passenger pigeon and such, and ok that’s great, the extinction isn’t too old so we can re-introduce them more easily.

But once again, if you have time and money to bring extinct species back to life, why aren’t you using this time and money to protect the species that are still there ? I mean HONESTLY. Why would you wait for them to disappear to finally care about them ?

So really I don’t know, I know what I wrote here is messed up I’m sorry. 


17 Animals that scientists want to bring back from extinction


check out this guy’s shirt