Should we try to bring dinosaurs back to life?
- The American Museum of Natural History explains that the origin of the word ‘dinosaur’ dates back to the 19th century, “In 1842, the English naturalist Sir Richard Owen coined the term Dinosauria, derived from the Greek deinos, meaning “fearfully great,” and sauros, meaning “lizard.”
- Dinosaurs existed for millions of years, first appearing “roughly 245 million years ago (near the beginning of the Middle Triassic Epoch) and thrived worldwide for nearly 180 million years. Most died out by the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 66 million years ago.”
- National Geographic relates that, as opposed to standard renderings, most dinosaurs actually had feathers. And this characteristic is what may have enabled some dinosaurs to survive to the present day, “early birds were the only dinosaurs to survive the asteroid that killed the rest.”
- Fossils of dinosaurs have been found on all seven continents, while there are approximately “700 known species of extinct dinosaurs.”
We should not bring back dinosaurs--even if we develop the technology to do so. They died out because they could not adapt to the changing environment. A mass extinction event was the Earth's natural way of wiping them out. And it was their extinction that paved the way for the age of mammals, allowing humans to eventually reign supreme. Bringing them back is going against natural selection and may alter the normal course of evolution on this planet.
Let's say we create a 'Jurassic Park' style enclosure. Yes, it would be awesome. But, just as in the movie, the dinosaurs could easily escape. They could go on to multiply and become an invasive species, killing many other animals on our planet that are not evolved to defend against them. This could result in a 'domino effect' that eventually creates unforeseeable and harmful consequences for our world--even potentially affecting the entire human race by introducing microbes and/or viruses that could harm us. There is simply no way of predicting what would happen if dinosaurs suddenly reappeared.
Ultimately, however, aside from the scientific argument against reanimating dinosaurs, there is also an ethical debate. We have far more pressing issues to deal with, including world hunger, a global energy crisis, and the ever-important quest for world peace. That's where we should be spending our billions. In addition, we have seen what happens when scientists try to play god and create things in laboratories. It doesn't always end well.
Once a science-fiction plot, the idea of bringing dinosaurs back to life is now close to becoming a reality. The concept was popularized in the book and blockbuster movie Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs are brought back to life and housed at a prehistoric zoo when things start going awry. Of course, as the movie points out, there are certainly dangers involved in reintroducing dinosaurs back to Earth, but many things that humans are currently responsible for are also quite dangerous, such as nuclear and biological weapons. In light of what has already been accomplished, it is difficult to imagine that reviving ancient species even moves the meter on existential threats to humanity.
Now, while it may seem on its face that resurrecting various dinosaur species is seemingly unnecessary entertainment, the process of bringing dinosaurs back to life requires a high level of genetic understanding, as the DNA of dinosaurs has long since decomposed. Furthermore, having a direct window into prehistory would have an incredible impact on the scientific community resulting in a deeper understanding of genetics along with a better comprehension of how the world used to be and how evolution has shaped the different species that we see today. This information, in turn, could lead to life-extension technologies and cures for diseases.
Another important outcome of recreating dinosaurs would be inspiring a generation of new geneticists, much like how the Apollo mission to the moon inspired many of the great astrophysicists we have today.
By re-animating these prehistoric creatures, science and, thus, the whole world could benefit greatly.
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