Sunday, February 28, 2010
if wishes were horses
I've always liked horses. They might not provide the most comfortable or practical means of transportation but there's something about the idea of horse that lets our imaginations about other ways of living run free. So rather than painting this weekend I spent some time on a couple of new drawings for paintings to come later. Draw while the pencil is hot.
Speaking of lively imaginations I've been reading some articles recently about the efforts being made to clone extinct species and wondering what to think of the idea. There's a project underway to find some useable DNA from one of the mammoths that are occasionally found when the permafrost melts. An egg from an Asian elephant would have the nucleus destroyed and replaced with the nucleus of a mammoth specimen. If successful, the resulting clone would be genetically all mammoth. Wow.
Another plan underway is to bring back aurochs. You may remember having seen their images in cave paintings - huge cattle with sweeping horns, seven feet tall at the shoulder and weighing over a ton that haven't been seen for at least 500 years. Caesar described them as: "a little below the elephant in size" and a favorite hunting prey for wild Germanic tribesmen. I wonder how you'd milk something like that?
There are plans as well to bring back the dodo (perhaps an ostrich would mother the egg) and the DNA of other endangered species is being collected and stored just in case the last real tiger dies in captivity like the Tasmanian Devil did at the turn of the 20th century.
What next, you may wonder? Well, the last one I read about was the plan to clone a Neanderthal. Really. You can read about it here but basically now we're talking about a human species that diverged from our line approximately 450,000 years ago and were very different from us in just about every way. Considering the difficulties for one surviving birth and infancy how would he or she see our world? Could one cope without peers or would the plan be to clone a small band and let them live on a northerly island with mammoths and aurochs ready to fill an ecological niche when we're gone?
Is it possible we need to figure out how to take better care of the world as it is before diving headlong into cloning the extinct? When I think about it for a bit I really don't have a very wild imagination at all.