Let’s face it, scientists: Some genes are meant to be folded

image It was 14 years ago this week that the bucardo mountain goat became extinct after a tree fell on the last of its species in northern Spain, prompting scientists to ponder the age-old question:

If a tree falls on a goat in the woods, does it make a sound?

To that end, U.S. and Spanish researchers are now collaborating to utilize cells preserved in liquid nitrogen to create the very first clone of an extinct species — beginning with the bucardo, whose scientific name is goatus stupidus. While I can appreciate the enormity of this scientific milestone, it also raises a fundamental question about our genetic science capabilities:

Should we duplicate an animal that wasn’t smart enough to avoid its own doom by moving a couple of hooves to the left?

According to researchers, the Massachusetts-based company currently working on the goat project has already cloned the near-extinct gaur — a humpbacked cow from southeast Asia that is on the endangered species list because of its propensity to get stuck in small openings and starve to death.

And what about the meestupido, a relative of the polar bear that resides in Siberia and is now dwindling in numbers because of its flawed instinct to stop eating and remove all of its hair before going into hibernation?

Angola’s yellow-billed, purging cockatoo? The extremely rare, trunk-swallowing elephants of China? The sand-drinking lizards of the Sahara that tragically fill themselves with sand and are then sold as hacky sacks?

The point is, I believe our growing capability to de-extinct a species makes it necessary to devise guidelines to help determine the difference between extinction and “natural selection.”

Because I know scientists are busy, and because if I end my column here it would be about 250 words too short, I took it upon myself to host an impromptu conference call with a panel of philosophers, geneticists, researchers and an extra from the original Jurassic Park.

Our objective?

Composed a short list of considerations that can help genetic scientists determine those species that should be rescued from the brink of extinction — and those that were meant to jump off the edge.

Immediately, we all agreed Justin Bieber should never be cloned. Even if he is struck by a falling tree or gets stuck in a revolving door. Either of which is entirely possible.
We also determined that in order to be cloned, a species should:

1) Not be instinctively suicidal.
2) In some way advance the eco-system, either by its direct contribution to the food chain, or by its marketing potential as a mascot for fast-food chains.
3) Not be any type of insect (Everyone on the panel agreed that we have plenty).
4) Not resemble a species we already have; between brown chickens and white chickens, one will have to go.
5) Never have been the subject of a Stephen King novel.
6) Have potential as an offering to alien invaders.
7) Be no bigger than an SUV.

If scientists follow this basic list of criteria, we will be able to prevent the tragic duplication of things like flightless birds, lemmings, rabid St. Bernards, lawyers and the beakless hummingbird.

And let me just say that, for the sake of our own species, we really need to get our obesity problem under control if we want to avoid No. 7.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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49 thoughts on “Let’s face it, scientists: Some genes are meant to be folded

  1. 9) Anything that smells like a 14-year-old boy’s football jersey/hockey mask/wrestling shoes. I think that smell may be been cloned in medieval times and continues to mutate in my son’s bathroom. And, come to think of it, the bathroom could be a scientific laboratory all its own.

  2. Also, no Kardashians (unless said Kardashians are raised in the same cage as any Dahmers who may mistakenly be regenerated and need to be fed).

  3. My cat licks itself until all the fur is gone. I am removing it from the list.

    Oh… and myself. After all, the world certainly doesn’t need another Chris Brown.

      • My daughter wore soccer shin guards, oven mitts, and a goalie mask when she first approached this cat. If I ever licked the darned thing, there’s not much chance I would survive. Thus the cloning decision would become a little more urgent.

        I appreciate the sentiment.

  4. It’s the Justin Bieber thing again, I think it’s time to pick on someone closer to home, lol. Cloning, I think it is just a bad idea. Sooner or later some weird scientist is going to want to try and clone humans, another head you said sir? Yeah, bad idea.

  5. If we need offerings for Alien invaders, especially if they would consider the cloned creature as a food source, then we should actually include Justin Bieber, i.e the perfect junk food for aliens.

  6. I cannot endorse #2emphatically enough. I once served as a mascot for a popular fast-food chain during a major college bowl game. (I earned the position by responding to a job posting that said, “Seeking cow with musical skills.”) I spent most of the game conducting marching bands and trying to incite the crowd, as bovines are wont to do. But my duties did not end there. My presence was requested for the the awards ceremony. As I stood on the dais, basking in a moment of mascot glory, the linebacker next to me grabbed my arm, spun me towards him, yelled, “I LOVE YOU, COW MAN!” and then proceeded to head-butt me right off the stage.

  7. Agreed on nothing that bites or stings, like insects. I think Cujo could eat an SUV, so no rabid St Bernards is also a good policy. Also nothing feline. Or slithery.

  8. I wish scientists would push the pause button on cloning and just work on blocking the reproduction of stupid people. Have you ever noticed that worthless individuals can spit out 12 kids before they turn 30? These are the people who leave their shopping carts beside the corral … 🙂

  9. When I read the opening paragraph I just knew this was going to be one of your funniest posts yet! That said, many many years ago I insisted on sleeping top bunk. In my sleep I rolled over and fell a few feet to the ground. In other words, don’t be too hard on goatus stupidus, because I can relate to it:S

  10. But #7 precludes being able to clone either the black or white rhino that is on the verge of extinction right now! I agree about Justin Bieber – is there a way we can make this retroactive?

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