Monday, January 18, 2010

Headlines! Megafauna Forever!

Italian scientists want to "recreate" the aurochs by selective breeding of similar modern breeds. But it wouldn't really be an aurochs, which I presume was a species rather than a breed, and what place do they see in modern Europe for such a large critter? Is this just for the tourist trade? Or is there an ecological need for a large wild grazer in some areas of Europe? Or do they just think it'd be cool? A lot of science is proposed because the scientists think it'd be cool.

Which it would be.

Giant Cattle to Be Bred Back from Extinction

Meanwhile, up in Alaska, examination of genetic material in soil samples shows that horses and mammoths survived there much later than the fossil record shows, presumably in small remnant populations. This is an exciting technique for dealing with the fact that fossilization is a random event, not guaranteed to leave any traces of a species at all, and less and less likely to occur as a species declines in number. DNA doesn't survive well, either, but a small soil sample that has no bones in it at all could potentially have DNA from a good cross-section of the animals that existed in the area at the time it was laid down. Way more practical than rebreeding!

Late-Surviving Megafauna Exposed by Ancient DNA in Frozen Soil

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