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  1. #1 Extinction- 
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    Being a thread devoted to the general topic of extinction- for some species, extinction is very desirable, e.g. the remaining military stockpiles of weaponized organisms, smallpox, etc. Smallpox in the "wild" so to speak, has already been eradicated, a VERY GOOD THING.

    Conversely, is it really appropriate to say the aurochs is "extinct" when the domesticated version of this mammal can be found on six continents?

    Aurochs Project Aims to Breed Extinct Ancient Cattle - TIME

    And with modern genetic technology it is possible to record the genetic code of any given species and may in time be advanced enough to reintroduce them ad lib- so is extinction truly "forever" in such an event?

    Is this "playing God" and if so, are we not already "playing God" by domesticating other species and introducing them to new regions of the globe, wittingly or otherwise?

    And by CAUSING such extinctions, which also proceed naturally, without human intervention?

    Is extinction ethically right, wrong, or neutral, given all of this?


    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    At the very least, there is an emotional damage from reducing biodiversity. If we cause a species of bird, for example, to go extinct, then our descendents will never be able to enjoy the presense or the song of that bird.

    I am less sympathetic to the argument that the extinction is causing ecological damage. Well before a species goes extinct, it will be present in small numbers, and its ecological impact will be nearly zero anyway. The local ecosystem will already be well adjusted to the absense of that species.

    How many species can we lose without causing serious long term damage? We cannot be sure, but the current rate of loss that is measured is 10 to 20 species per year. There will be other species that go extinct without biologists being aware of the fact, so the true number will be somewhat higher. My own 'guesstimate' is 100 species per year lost, counting only eukaryotes.

    What fraction is this? Again, we cannot be sure, but the total eukaryote species is probably of the order of 5 to 20 million species. So a loss of 100 per year means that in 1000 years we will lose 0.5% to 2% of our eukaryote biodiversity.


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    There is emotional damage from rejection, too, even justified rejection. Big fat, hairy deal, as the Americans say. What you never had, you never miss. Do you miss mastodon steak? Neither does Prince. And if descendants hear no song of said bird, will also not have said bird feces in hair. Let all body lice become extinct and tell me who will miss them.

    Nature suffers no "emotional damage", grinding along on its murderous way with periodic mass extinctions and others falling by wayside one by one, yet life persists invariably.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    how far would you extend the lets kill things off analogy?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Probably less far than nature in K-T event. Seriously, probably only to pathogens and parasites of humans and food sources of humans. Plus coca plant, opium poppy, and marijuana.

    Cretaceous


    Last edited by The Finger Prince; November 26th, 2011 at 01:22 AM.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Is it live or is it Memorex?

    Related thread:The end of extinction


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    Note paraliths very post in that thread, and just because it looks like something doe not mean it will replace it in the food web/natural cycles
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Note paraliths very post in that thread, and just because it looks like something doe not mean it will replace it in the food web/natural cycles
    So? Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Either way should be quick to be finding out. Oh, yeah, zebra mussels should be on list too.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    and if its quick in the "food web is now crashing" way?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Would rather not see food web terminating in local grocery store crash, hence fewer pests and pathogens is self evidently good idea.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    until all the taxa that live off them disappear and major food webs crash.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Would rather not see food web terminating in local grocery store crash, hence fewer pests and pathogens is self evidently good idea.
    chances are that pollinators might go before the pests and pathogens - and then we'd be in deep doodoo
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    1) Isn't the current extinction rate estimated to a few orders of magnitude greater than 10-20?

    2) Eradication of small pox isn't really a good idea. Know your enemy is a good strategy - especially considering that there are several hundred strains of smallpox that have been little studied and not even sequenced yet.

    When we talk of extinctions most people tend to think about the charismatic megabiota. I'd be more concerned about marine microbiiota - viral, prokaryal and eukaryal organisms - since many of these organisms play such foundational roles in major food webs. They probably even have an unsubtle influence on the entire biosphere.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    1) Isn't the current extinction rate estimated to a few orders of magnitude greater than 10-20?

    2) Eradication of small pox isn't really a good idea. Know your enemy is a good strategy - especially considering that there are several hundred strains of smallpox that have been little studied and not even sequenced yet.
    Re current extinction rate.
    There is a technique for calculating extinction rate based on habitat loss. This is an unproved algorithm, based on what is known of island ecology. It is much favoured by extremist organisations like Greenpeace, since it can be 'massaged' to give rather large numbers. So, on one occasion, Greenpeace calculated 200,000 extinctions per annum.

    I think the people here are smart enough to see the flaw in that reasoning. My figure of 10 to 20 per year proven extinctions comes from species that have been discovered, named and described, and later found to be gone. As I said before, there will be many extinctions of species we never knew existed, and that is why my personal 'guesstimate' is 100 per year. You can dispute the figure of 100, if you like, and provide a counter argument for your own number.

    Re smallpox
    I disagree. I think that there is a kind of mystical view held by many people (not you, Zwirko) that every species has a special place in global ecologies, and disaster results if it is removed. That is easily proven wrong, with hundreds of counter-examples. There is no evidence that the smallpox virus has any beneficial effects whatever, and heaps of evidence for its extreme harm.
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    I've no clue how many species go extinct, myself. The numbers appear to be all over the place - 200,000 is clearly a bit daft as there would be nothing left in pretty short order.

    I didn't mean to suggest that smallpox is a benefit to anybody or plays an important ecological role. Rather, I'm suggesting that knowing about the virus in as much detail as is possible would be more sensible than destroying it and leaving ourselves ignorant. By all means destroy all samples once we've at least characterised the various strains at the sequence level. Nobody really knows where smallpox came from. Neither is it certain that the virus or something very similar could not re-emerge one day. Neither is it all that clear if all stocks of the virus have been declared - I shudder to think what is contained in some mislabelled tube in some freezer somewhere, unknown to anybody. I'd rather have some knowledge about such a threat ahead of time, rather than deal with it on the fly.
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    Zwirko

    Re smallpox.

    I still disagree with you. I would rather the last of it was destroyed and all knowledge of its sequence erased.

    The reason is that it is now possible to build DNA molecules in the lab with specific sequences. If the knowledge of the smallpox sequence survives, there is the chance that the wrong people might get hold of it, and rebuild the organism. Worse still, it is also known how to alter the sequence in such a way as to make it even more lethal. This has already been done in the lab with mousepox, and could be done with smallpox.

    Genetic capabilities improve each year, and the tools become more and more accessible,and less and less expensive. The day might come when an ordinary person with high intelligence might be able to buy what is needed, and build a lethal smallpox variant in his home. Let's erase the data he would need!
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    The scenario you outline is one of the main reasons why it would be foolhardy to destroy all stocks at this point in time, especially considering that as a population we are losing immunity to the virus and have limited vaccine stocks. Destroying stocks of smallpox wouldn't really make the world any safer - if anything, it would make the world a more dangerous place. Until it can be confirmed that there are no more stocks unaccounted for (it's only been 30+ years since eradication) it'd be unwise to unlearn what we know. Understanding smallpox variants - even though it doesn't exhibit much variation, is also crucial since it is not possible to guarantee that the virus, or some variant of, may make an appearance again. Forgetting what you know about a deadly enemy seems short-sighted to me and is of dubious benefit.

    With the pace of current technology your hypothetical madman may have little interest in smallpox, anyway. Why not modify the viruses that cause polio, measles or ebola; or make a cocktail of engineered flu virus that could wipe out half the world population? Or why not make an entirely synthetic one from scratch designed to kill only people from New Zealand?


    I think the next time this issue is up for debate is in 2014, when the World Health Organisation will make another decision.
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    The original vaccine was cowpox, which worked pretty well. So there is no need to keep smallpox or information about smallpox to have a vaccine. There is no cure for smallpox - only prevention by vaccination.

    As to my hypothetical madman - let us just hope that the world is smart enough to keep samples and information secure from such people. I doubt it, though. I read yesterday, in the human health forum, that a research lab has now synthesized a bird flu virus that is rapidly lethal to almost everyone, and easily transmissable from human to human. With scientists doing that kind of thing, my confidence in human wisdom is at an all time low.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    until all the taxa that live off them disappear and major food webs crash.
    What taxa feed off of tapeworms, roundworms, spirochetes, liver flukes and lice? Actually very few, Prince would wager. If there are many which DO, they are doing a crappy job and deserve extinction as well. Please to furnish specific examples.
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    Yeh, what taxa feed off of Marburg and Ebola Virus? Riddle me THAT one. Prince is aware that lymphocytes in body digest foreign viruses and bacteria but is willing to bet also(what a gambling man today, heheheheh...) that energy derived from such is negligible.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Zwirko

    Re smallpox.

    I still disagree with you. I would rather the last of it was destroyed and all knowledge of its sequence erased.

    The reason is that it is now possible to build DNA molecules in the lab with specific sequences. If the knowledge of the smallpox sequence survives, there is the chance that the wrong people might get hold of it, and rebuild the organism. Worse still, it is also known how to alter the sequence in such a way as to make it even more lethal. This has already been done in the lab with mousepox, and could be done with smallpox.

    Genetic capabilities improve each year, and the tools become more and more accessible,and less and less expensive. The day might come when an ordinary person with high intelligence might be able to buy what is needed, and build a lethal smallpox variant in his home. Let's erase the data he would need!
    Supposedly anthrax powder used in bioterror attacks of 2001 came from USA government lab and patsy/guy responsible had no connection visible to the Al-Quaeda network(at least to Prince's knowledge), so timing is very suspect, as is motivation mysterious. It is ALMOST enough to make one entertain crazy conspiracy theories, not that such are topic of this thread.

    For scary novel on this theme, try:

    Richard Preston
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Would rather not see food web terminating in local grocery store crash, hence fewer pests and pathogens is self evidently good idea.
    chances are that pollinators might go before the pests and pathogens - and then we'd be in deep doodoo
    Agreed, most heartily. To test capabilities of resurrecting extinct species of insect Prince proposes honeybees as a prime target, just to be sure we can if dire need should arise. Of course, resolving principal causes of said extinction should be urgent priority as well.

    Prince is honored to find himself in such distinguished company on this humble thread, thank you all so much for your thoughts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post

    What taxa feed off of tapeworms, roundworms, spirochetes, liver flukes and lice? Actually very few, Prince would wager. If there are many which DO, they are doing a crappy job and deserve extinction as well. Please to furnish specific examples.
    There is a hypothesis floating around in some circles that posits that the low incidence of intestinal parasites in many parts of the developed world may be a contributing factor in the rise of allergies such as hay fever, food allergies and ailments such as asthma.
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    Fossils are rare in that to preserve them has to have the right circumstances to preserve them. Science cannot possibly know what every species that lived in the past to actually determine what numbers and the biodiversity on the majority that ever lived since fossils are difficult to form in the first place. The biodiversity today would not be what it is without Humans here. The megafauna that changed from the last extinction event that now live mostly in protected areas or game parks are living ghosts. Any species under our control is in danger or is a living ghost of extinction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    Fossils are rare in that to preserve them has to have the right circumstances to preserve them. Science cannot possibly know what every species that lived in the past to actually determine what numbers and the biodiversity on the majority that ever lived since fossils are difficult to form in the first place. The biodiversity today would not be what it is without Humans here. The megafauna that changed from the last extinction event that now live mostly in protected areas or game parks are living ghosts. Any species under our control is in danger or is a living ghost of extinction.
    All species are subject to extinction, as attested to by this same fossil record, evidence of many such extinctions antedating our own species. Maize is a plant species so thoroughly domesticated and so important to us as a food source that it cannot grow in the wild, period, and if it DOES fall prey to extinction, will severely and adversely affect our own prospects for survival.

    Swine, by contrast, seem to flourish in the wild, as do horses, cats, pigeons, and certain breeds of dog. Feral examples of these species are common. There is also the category of "commensal" organisms, e.g. rats, generally regarded as pests, though domesticated varieties exist and are useful for scientific research.

    Yes, Zwirko, Prince has heard of this and invites you to elaborate. Little-known and disgusting fact- tapeworms were once commercially available as a means of weight loss. Much too commensal for most, one may safely assume. Prince is surprised upon investigation to learn that this is still the case in Mexico:

    Tapeworm Diet: Using Beef Tapeworms in Humans
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    Tapeworms were very much in fashion in the old days:



    The whole "diet pill" (er, tapeworm cysts) thing was a scam, as far I'm aware.




    I don't know anything about the technical details of this parasite-allergy hypothesis to be honest (the terminology employed by immunologist gives me nightmares). I'm not even informed enough on the topic to know if it's just woo or not. I do know a little bit about tapeworms though and can tell you that they don't tend to cause any significant weight loss.

    Still, I think I'd have the tapeworm therapy over the fecal transplant though.
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    Prince agrees strongly with this sentiment. Commensalism, parasitism, mutualism, these are labels of convenience. Circumstances may change, and with them our relationships with other species. If a species is determined to have no value under any circumstances to humanity and presents any hazard whatsoever, it should be eradicated with sequence recorded for research purposes.

    Such is Prince's current thinking on matter.
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    F*** the humans are the only species that matter mind set. Please give a list of all species you want to see obliterated.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Zwirko

    Re smallpox.

    I still disagree with you. I would rather the last of it was destroyed and all knowledge of its sequence erased.

    The reason is that it is now possible to build DNA molecules in the lab with specific sequences. If the knowledge of the smallpox sequence survives, there is the chance that the wrong people might get hold of it, and rebuild the organism. Worse still, it is also known how to alter the sequence in such a way as to make it even more lethal. This has already been done in the lab with mousepox, and could be done with smallpox.

    Genetic capabilities improve each year, and the tools become more and more accessible,and less and less expensive. The day might come when an ordinary person with high intelligence might be able to buy what is needed, and build a lethal smallpox variant in his home. Let's erase the data he would need!
    Supposedly anthrax powder used in bioterror attacks of 2001 came from USA government lab and patsy/guy responsible had no connection visible to the Al-Quaeda network(at least to Prince's knowledge), so timing is very suspect, as is motivation mysterious. It is ALMOST enough to make one entertain crazy conspiracy theories, not that such are topic of this thread.

    For scary novel on this theme, try:

    Richard Preston
    There were many arrests where vehicles were pulled over and police found anthrax in their cars prior to 9/11 - Comments from the media were wondering how easy it was to obtain anthrax from your local college lab. Of course after 9/11 nobody put these arrests with the terroist attack which I thought was odd.
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    If a species is determined to have no value under any circumstances to humanity
    Be interesting to see how that would be determined, in theory - in practice it is of course impossible.

    There is serious, published research of late demonstrating that certain parasitic infections seem to benefit the human immune system, keep it from developing abnormally and launching autoimmune disease. We are perhaps fortunate that we lacked the ability to rid the world of human parasites, twenty five years ago.
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    That is true, of course. I do not think it applies to viruses, though. I am not aware of any virus infection that confers any significant benefit. We can, in theory, render any exclusively human virus disease extinct, through finding effective vaccines and vaccinating everyone who might contract said disease. We can, in theory, even render AIDS extinct, by providing anti-HIV drugs to everyone with the infection, so they will not pass it on, and the disease will eventually die with them.

    I have seen nothing to suggest anything other than this is an excellent idea.
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    For individual virus infections that cause a direct fitness advantage to their hosts, I can't think of an example offhand - if there aren't any concrete examples (I'm sure there are though), I predict there will be quite a few discovered in the near future.

    Regarding viruses in general and more widely, it is now widely accepted that without viruses we might not be here as a species since viruses are thought to have played critical roles in our evolution. By this I don't mean shaped our immune systems (that too, of course), but actually that they have served as engines of major evolutionary change itself. The placenta, for example, is thought to have had a partly retroviral origin. Thus, there might not have been placental mammals without viruses. Then there is the fact that viruses are the most diverse and most abundant group of "organisms" on earth - in terms of both biomass and individual numbers - I'm sure they have a global impact on the biosphere.

    They likely play important roles in the ecology of our intestinal tracts too - the microbiome probably has all sorts of weird influences on our development.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    F*** the humans are the only species that matter mind set. Please give a list of all species you want to see obliterated.
    Selection criteria have been established and examples given. But to accommodate your request, a preliminary list is given: List of parasites of humans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    There were many arrests where vehicles were pulled over and police found anthrax in their cars prior to 9/11 - Comments from the media were wondering how easy it was to obtain anthrax from your local college lab. Of course after 9/11 nobody put these arrests with the terroist attack which I thought was odd.
    Indeed? Prince was unaware of such events. Anthrax should be exterminated. All other comments regarding anthrax and 09/11/2001 will be addressed on separate thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    For individual virus infections that cause a direct fitness advantage to their hosts, I can't think of an example offhand - if there aren't any concrete examples (I'm sure there are though), I predict there will be quite a few discovered in the near future.

    Regarding viruses in general and more widely, it is now widely accepted that without viruses we might not be here as a species since viruses are thought to have played critical roles in our evolution.
    My statement was significant bernefits. I can well imagine viruses conferring minor and unimportant benefits. In fact, I know of one. Smallpox vaccinations appear to confer a minor level of protection against melanoma. I suspect that there will be other cases where a virus infection confers a level of immunity against certain cancers.

    I do not think we can take into account past genetic insertions. It is the future benefit of humanity we are discussing. With regard to that, the extinction of as many virus ailments as possible will be of overwhelming net benefit. We have pretty nearly eliminated smallpox. Another that came close to extinction was polio, which was preserved by human stupidity.

    There are bacterial infections, also, that could be and should be eliminated. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) found only in humans and (of all things) armadillos. It is possible in theory to heal all lepers (multi-drug therapy), and kill all infected armadillos. In the long run, that would be to the benefit of armadillo-kind also.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    F*** the humans are the only species that matter mind set. Please give a list of all species you want to see obliterated.
    Selection criteria have been established and examples given. But to accommodate your request, a preliminary list is given: List of parasites of humans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    No you did not specify what you were referring to. You are actually just talking about very specifically about human parasites then. your poorly worded opening post, in your attempt to speak in third person, did not make that clear. In fact the opening paragraph was not about that at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Being a thread devoted to the general topic of extinction- for some species, extinction is very desirable, e.g. the remaining military stockpiles of weaponized organisms, smallpox, etc. Smallpox in the "wild" so to speak, has already been eradicated, a VERY GOOD THING.

    Conversely, is it really appropriate to say the aurochs is "extinct" when the domesticated version of this mammal can be found on six continents?

    Aurochs Project Aims to Breed Extinct Ancient Cattle - TIME

    And with modern genetic technology it is possible to record the genetic code of any given species and may in time be advanced enough to reintroduce them ad lib- so is extinction truly "forever" in such an event?

    Is this "playing God" and if so, are we not already "playing God" by domesticating other species and introducing them to new regions of the globe, wittingly or otherwise?

    And by CAUSING such extinctions, which also proceed naturally, without human intervention?

    Is extinction ethically right, wrong, or neutral, given all of this?
    Grumpy today. Anyway, given both recent and projected advances in technology as applied to biology, extinction may be a temporary condition, whatever its ethical status is determined to be. Prince has complied with your request, you are welcome. He will no longer "attempt" to speak in third person- he will do so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    For individual virus infections that cause a direct fitness advantage to their hosts, I can't think of an example offhand - if there aren't any concrete examples (I'm sure there are though), I predict there will be quite a few discovered in the near future.

    Regarding viruses in general and more widely, it is now widely accepted that without viruses we might not be here as a species since viruses are thought to have played critical roles in our evolution.
    My statement was significant bernefits. I can well imagine viruses conferring minor and unimportant benefits. In fact, I know of one. Smallpox vaccinations appear to confer a minor level of protection against melanoma. I suspect that there will be other cases where a virus infection confers a level of immunity against certain cancers.

    I do not think we can take into account past genetic insertions. It is the future benefit of humanity we are discussing. With regard to that, the extinction of as many virus ailments as possible will be of overwhelming net benefit. We have pretty nearly eliminated smallpox. Another that came close to extinction was polio, which was preserved by human stupidity.

    There are bacterial infections, also, that could be and should be eliminated. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) found only in humans and (of all things) armadillos. It is possible in theory to heal all lepers (multi-drug therapy), and kill all infected armadillos. In the long run, that would be to the benefit of armadillo-kind also.
    Indeed and it would. Do other species expend such tender solicitude upon ours?

    No.

    Pathogens and parasites are doing their best to kill us, by making them extinct we are merely returning the favor. They are evolutionary dead ends, in any case, too specialized to survive without some host and if host is gone, most likely they are as well.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Skeptic,


    Are you sure that the extinction of as many viral ailments as possible is a good strategy in the long term? I wonder what effects that would have on our immune systems? Any overwhelming net benefit may well have a nasty sting in the tail. We've already mentioned that improved farming practices and food preparation have greatly reduced the incidence of intestinal parasites in humans, with perhaps the side effect of increasing levels of auto-immune disorders. Removing human pathogens could very well end up making us extinct too. Suffering from disease is perhaps essential to our future viability as a species.
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    Zwirko

    Eliminating viral illnesses is probably impossible anyway, since many of them are also carried by assorted species of animal. However, it would be a good thing to eliminate as many as possible. Any harmful effects from such elimination is speculative only at this stage.
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    Perhaps viral diseases have some value in keeping auto-immune disorders in check. We can test this hypothesis as we already have control group.

    To digress a bit, would it be to advantage to modify human immune response rather than count on virus to perform this function for us?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    I do not believe that Humans have the right to determine other species fate. I realize also that its not going to stop people from wiping out any species that they chose too. We are already at the point of no return when we have so many species now living in game parks, zoos, protected areas, etc that their gene pool is at risk. They are living ghosts and are already at the door of extinction. There is no room for a new species to take their place since we occupy their territory now.


    I hope science is right that you only require a few survivors to create speciation that brings diversity back in the future. If science is wrong, I can't even imagine what that scenario would be, but I'm sure it will not be forgiven lightly. Wiping out pathogens, viruses, etc when science knows just enough to get in trouble, but still has a long way to go in understanding all of the biodiversity of the microbial world and most likely is playing with catastrophic consequences with this domain of life.

    Afterall, this domain of life have been here from the beginning and what we do know about them is you can't ever get rid of them, it is not possible and why would we since we depend on them for our existance and survival?
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    We depend on what for existence and survival? Scabies and rabies? Prince prefers babies, although they DO emit shrill, loud noises and foul smells.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    How do we know that the large mammal biodiversity, example: wholly mammoths, saber tooth tiger, giant sloths, etc actually became extinct? They could have easily changed in appearance with modification with descent since many of those species resemble in appearance to today's mammals. This is why I have a big problem with us thinking we can wipe out many mammals living today with the idea that speciation will occur in the future.
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    Because the time frame required for a change of that magnitude is not available, and genetic sampling has shown them to be extinct.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    many of the last mammoths did indeed show signs of dwarfism, but they were still clearly mammoths and not any other extant type of elephant
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Because the time frame required for a change of that magnitude is not available, and genetic sampling has shown them to be extinct.
    What do mean by the time frame is not available? Wouldn't it have been easier for mutations to occur in the offspring of the larger megafauna to resemble today's mammals instead of speciation off a few mammals that gave us our biodiversity? If anything takes more time it would be speciation and not descent with modification.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    many of the last mammoths did indeed show signs of dwarfism, but they were still clearly mammoths and not any other extant type of elephant
    I have problems accepting that mammoths are not the direct ancestors of modern elephants. DNA evidence would definitely given the impression that these two are not related but how do we know if the DNA of mammoths did not change to resemble elephant's DNA today. My DNA is not an exact replicate of my parents DNA and I would imagine that my descendents 10,000 years from now isn't going to look anything like my DNA IS TODAY.
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    We have a very complete fossil record of the Elephas, Loxodonta, Mammuthus, and Mammut ancestries which indicate that mammoths and mastodons did not change to become modern Asian (Elephas) or African (Loxodonta) elephants. The ~10,000 year time frame between that last iceage and now is not enough generations to create the genetic change you are suggesting. Morphology may shift in that time frame but the genetics show a different story. Sorry
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Pathogens and parasites are doing their best to kill us,
    Not at all. Most parasites and some pathogens put considerable effort into keeping us alive. We are their meal ticket, after all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    I have problems accepting that mammoths are not the direct ancestors of modern elephants.
    Personal incredulity in the face of solid evidence is not scientific. Personal incredulity in the raw is not scientific. Incredulity and scepticism are not the same thing at all. The latter is pragmatism, the former is dogma.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    We have a very complete fossil record of the Elephas, Loxodonta, Mammuthus, and Mammut ancestries which indicate that mammoths and mastodons did not change to become modern Asian (Elephas) or African (Loxodonta) elephants. The ~10,000 year time frame between that last iceage and now is not enough generations to create the genetic change you are suggesting. Morphology may shift in that time frame but the genetics show a different story. Sorry
    My understanding of fossils is they are the exception not the norm since in order to fossilize they need special conditions. It is not possible to have a complete history of biota before us since many did not become fossils.
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    Correct, but we are talking about a time period which is so recent that more of the remains have survived to this point and more of them are accessible. The result is a much higher proportion of 'fossils' than is typical. The damn beasts are contemporaries. You are taking the same kind of view that would have homo neanderthalis as our direct ancestor. Pay attention to paleoichnium: (s)he knows what (s)he's talking about.
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    It is my own opinion so I do not expect people to agree with me. I have studied this subject for the past 10 years from my own personal research. I do think that neanderthals is the direct ancestor of people that live in the area from the last ice age, especially in Germany and Alaska since many of the features of neaderthal's facial traits shows some resemblance in modern humans of that area.

    Humans hunted many of the large mammals and prior to agriculture, I believe our species created a bottleneck in many of the large megafauna due to hunting and clearing land using fire. This bottleneck was the cue for nature to reduce them in size and change their features through descent with modication. The development of agriculture and learning to domesticate animals became an evolutionary event that gave those many species that were reduced by hunting to make a comeback.

    All of the fossils during that time frame and the recreation of what science believes they looked like has a strong resemblance to today's mammals. Unless science is wrong in how they are portrayed in pictures of those mammals during that time frame, then it would not support what I believe to be descent with modication as the dominate mechanism for changes to occur in evolution. Human behavior just like any other behavior of the living biota is considered part of the environment and it is all of those interactions combined that create the "environment."

    When humans began to use weapons and perfect their hunting skills, The predator/prey mechanism became unbalanced and from what I understand of nature, changes will occur to restore stability again. Speciation that is believed to be the primary mechanism that produced all of our current biodiversity doesn't make sense. Nature appears to make changes that is the least path of resistance and doesn't increase energy spent to do it.

    The environment can't wait for species to migrate towards it to fill the niches. its stability depends on all the different players involved that makes it stable. Yes, catastrophic conditions to occur but it does not appear to be the only dominate mechanism for new species to emerge. The environment is changing continuously and it makes more sense to make small changes in all of the biota at the same time in all the species that live in it through descent with modication. In this manner, there is no interruption in sexual reproduction since the changes are slowly done in every generation of offspring.

    Evolution affects all life at the same time and the changes over generations would not be noticed at all by the current generation of the biota. Humans were alive to witness the changes that occurred in the large megafauna, unfortunately we had not learned to document the event. Many of the large megafauna existed 10, 000 years and we have no record of when the first modern version of today's mammals came into existance. It is assumed that they had speciated off of a few mammals that lived during that time frame but science does not have any evidence to state which creature it was speciated from to explain our current biota.
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    We have mammoth tissue and DNA from specimens preserved by freezing. Genome analysis shows with 100% certainty that they did not give rise to living elephants. For that matter, the fossil record shows African elephants in Africa one million years ago. Mammoths were in the frozen north as recently as 12,000 years ago.

    You are correct in saying humans did not evolve from neanderthals. The oldest trace of neanderthals is 300,000 years ago in Europe, though some fossils with neanderthal traits have been found 500,000 years old, also in Europe. Human fossils before 100,000 years ago are all found in Africa. So humans evolved in Africa, and neanderthals in Europe according to the fossil record. However, there is now clear genomic evidence that there was some interbreeding after humans migrated to Europe.

    It is probable that both humans and neanderthals evolved from Homo erectus, which was found in both places.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Being a thread devoted to the general topic of extinction- for some species, extinction is very desirable, e.g. the remaining military stockpiles of weaponized organisms, smallpox, etc. Smallpox in the "wild" so to speak, has already been eradicated, a VERY GOOD THING.

    Conversely, is it really appropriate to say the aurochs is "extinct" when the domesticated version of this mammal can be found on six continents?

    Aurochs Project Aims to Breed Extinct Ancient Cattle - TIME

    And with modern genetic technology it is possible to record the genetic code of any given species and may in time be advanced enough to reintroduce them ad lib- so is extinction truly "forever" in such an event?

    Is this "playing God" and if so, are we not already "playing God" by domesticating other species and introducing them to new regions of the globe, wittingly or otherwise?

    And by CAUSING such extinctions, which also proceed naturally, without human intervention?

    Is extinction ethically right, wrong, or neutral, given all of this?
    Extinction is considered a natural process (aslong as there is no human intervention) and as such is beyond traditional ethics. that is like asking is it morally wrong for a lion to maul an antilope in the wild? and as such the natural process of one preditor progressing extinction of a spicies.

    asfar as geneticaly reintroducing extinct species into the wild, this topic ill confess i havent done much research on but i can speculate that the careful study of certain extinct species could be hugely benificial to humanity. asfar as introducing them into the wild however, i believe that should be the focus of massive research before it is even contemplated. need to consider inherant animalistic behaviour of that perticular animal, territorial behaviours, the animals diet in comparison with the local pre-existing wildlife, and the possibilities of cross species mateing just to name a few.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Barbi

    We have mammoth tissue and DNA from specimens preserved by freezing. Genome analysis shows with 100% certainty that they did not give rise to living elephants. For that matter, the fossil record shows African elephants in Africa one million years ago. Mammoths were in the frozen north as recently as 12,000 years ago.

    You are correct in saying humans did not evolve from neanderthals. The oldest trace of neanderthals is 300,000 years ago in Europe, though some fossils with neanderthal traits have been found 500,000 years old, also in Europe. Human fossils before 100,000 years ago are all found in Africa. So humans evolved in Africa, and neanderthals in Europe according to the fossil record. However, there is now clear genomic evidence that there was some interbreeding after humans migrated to Europe.

    It is probable that both humans and neanderthals evolved from Homo erectus, which was found in both places.
    African elephants branched from the mammoth's evolutionary tree around 6 mya while the Asian elephant branched much recently around 440,000 yrs ago. They evolved from one ancestor, primelephas, around 7 mya. Our current population of elephants are cousins to mammoths.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mbush54 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Being a thread devoted to the general topic of extinction- for some species, extinction is very desirable, e.g. the remaining military stockpiles of weaponized organisms, smallpox, etc. Smallpox in the "wild" so to speak, has already been eradicated, a VERY GOOD THING.

    Conversely, is it really appropriate to say the aurochs is "extinct" when the domesticated version of this mammal can be found on six continents?

    Aurochs Project Aims to Breed Extinct Ancient Cattle - TIME

    And with modern genetic technology it is possible to record the genetic code of any given species and may in time be advanced enough to reintroduce them ad lib- so is extinction truly "forever" in such an event?

    Is this "playing God" and if so, are we not already "playing God" by domesticating other species and introducing them to new regions of the globe, wittingly or otherwise?

    And by CAUSING such extinctions, which also proceed naturally, without human intervention?

    Is extinction ethically right, wrong, or neutral, given all of this?
    Extinction is considered a natural process (aslong as there is no human intervention) and as such is beyond traditional ethics. that is like asking is it morally wrong for a lion to maul an antilope in the wild? and as such the natural process of one preditor progressing extinction of a spicies.

    asfar as geneticaly reintroducing extinct species into the wild, this topic ill confess i havent done much research on but i can speculate that the careful study of certain extinct species could be hugely benificial to humanity. asfar as introducing them into the wild however, i believe that should be the focus of massive research before it is even contemplated. need to consider inherant animalistic behaviour of that perticular animal, territorial behaviours, the animals diet in comparison with the local pre-existing wildlife, and the possibilities of cross species mateing just to name a few.

    I think it would be shameful to bring back any extinct creatures to benefit mankind's diet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    many of the last mammoths did indeed show signs of dwarfism, but they were still clearly mammoths and not any other extant type of elephant

    There is only one ancestor to all elephants and that is Primelephas. A mammoth is still a type of elephant even though we gave it a different name.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    many of the last mammoths did indeed show signs of dwarfism, but they were still clearly mammoths and not any other extant type of elephant

    There is only one ancestor to all elephants and that is Primelephas. A mammoth is still a type of elephant even though we gave it a different name.
    sounds pretty irrelevant to me - clearly the consensus is that the differences between Elephas and Mammuthus are sufficient to warrant a different generic name, let alone a specific name
    the point is that, even if the indian elephant and the mammoth are cousins, no mammoth evolved to become the ancestor of the indian elephant
    whether they are both derived from Primelephas or not is beside the point
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    many of the last mammoths did indeed show signs of dwarfism, but they were still clearly mammoths and not any other extant type of elephant

    There is only one ancestor to all elephants and that is Primelephas. A mammoth is still a type of elephant even though we gave it a different name.
    More accurately, they are all proboscids or elephantids, not elephants. "Elephant" is a society generated name that has not set definition and it meaning varies depending on who you talk to. Genus, binomial, family etc names are regulated and have defined meanings which are created through the publishing of peer review papers.

    The physical scientific evidence shows that your hypothesis is not true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Mammoths were in the frozen north as recently as 12,000 years ago.
    Just as a point of interest, we can make that 4000 years ago:

    Sign in to read: Mammoth mystery: Why giants no longer rule the north - life - 31 March 2011 - New Scientist

    "The last stand of the mammoths took place on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. Here a population of mammoths was cut off from the Siberian mainland 9000 years ago as ice sheets melted and sea level rose. However, the climate and vegetation remained suitable for them, and they survived here for 5000 years before dying out around 4000 years ago - around the time humans arrived."
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Very interesting, turtle.

    What a shame they did not hold on for another 4,000 years.
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