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[P]
Genetic Responsibility

By Bora Horza Gobuchol in Op-Ed
Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:45:46 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Somewhere in the royal forests of Jaktorów, 1627 AD.

Hidden deep in the primeval forest of what will become modern-day Poland, a poacher notches an arrow to the string of his bow. In an open glade, preserved for the exclusive hunting of the king, an animal that exists nowhere else in the world grazes.

Her ancestors are preserved in ochre paints on the cave walls of Lascaux. Relatives to her bloodline will become the black fighting bulls of Spain, but they will be pale shadows compared to her.

Standing more than six feet high at the shoulder, the aurochs' horns are massive scimitars of bone, spreading more than an arms span from her broad triangular head. She is ten feet from nose to tail, tons of muscle and flesh that are impossible to stop once she has begun her terrifying charge.

The wood of the bow creaks as the poacher draws the arrow. The aurochs looks up curiously.

The arrow flies free. The aurochs bellows with pain and range as the shaft sinks into her body, spearing her heart. Bloody froth drips from her mouth as her head rears back - and then the massive animal falls, the collapse of her body echoing through the forest.

The leaves shake for a moment. The aurochs chest falls as she draws a shuddering breath. And then she dies.

She is the last of her kind.


While the exact numbers are riddled with controversy, there is no doubt that man has been responsible for the extinction of dozens of species since the Pleistocene epoch. From unique species that evolved on tiny island chains to birds whose flocks would darken the skies for hours, mankind has eliminated every imaginable kind of animal - those that were too slow, too delicious, too useful, or simply inconvenient.

In recent years, science has uncovered the remarkable workings of the genome. We have cloned living species, and are on the cusp of being able to recover those lost in the past. The question is, should we? Do we have an obligation to recover those animals our ancestors made extinct?

It is important to note that we're not talking Jurassic Park scenarios here. These are not animals separated from us by millions of years. The dodo, the aurochs, the European lion were not made extinct by cataclysmic weather changes or asteroid impacts, but as a direct result of the actions of man. Should they be recovered?

First, an entirely personal list of those animals that should be recovered:

  1. Mammoth/Mastodon (Mammuthus primigenius and related). These giant wooly beasts, 8 - 12 feet at the shoulder, roamed much of North America and Europe until the end of the last Ice Age. Wiped out by Neolithic hunters, global climate change, or a combination of the two factors some 12,000 years ago.
  2. Moa (Dinornis maximus and related). Giant flightless bird native to New Zealand, the tallest over two meters high at the shoulder, while others were the size of emu and turkeys. All 11 species were rendered extinct through hunting by Maori (the first acknowledged colonists of New Zealand), the destruction of their habitat, and through predation by the rats and dogs introduced by the Maori. The last had disappeared by the 1800's.
  3. Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Wiped out by hunting and trapping by European colonists.
  4. The European Lion (Leo leo Europea). Last described 100AD. Larger than its African cousin. Likely wiped out by Roman expansion in Europe.
  5. Aurochs (Bos primigenius). A giant bull, wiped out by hunting. The last known died in 1627 in a royal hunting estate in Poland.
  6. Dodo (Raphus cucullatus). First sighted by Westerners on the island of Mauritius by Dutch sailors, the species was extinct less than eighty years later.
  7. Harpagornis, or Haast eagle, the largest eagle in the world, with a wingspan of two meters. Capable of killing an adult moa (or a human being). Likely made extinct through the destruction of its habitat and prey by the Maori.
  8. Elephant Bird (Vouron Patra). A native of Madagascar, likely made extinct by encroachment on its habitat and the theft of its eggs (over three feet in circumference) by natives and Portuguese colonists. Slightly shorter (10 feet) than the tallest moa but more massively built, weighing up to 1100 pounds. Last recorded in 1658.
  9. And finally, perhaps the most controversial possibility - Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis).

So much for a wish list - but can these species actually be recovered? Efforts to re-breed lost animals like the quagga and re-sequence the genome of the mastodon have so far been fruitless - but let us assume that science succeeds in this quest. There are still other issues that might prevent the mammoth from roaming the tundra of Siberia again

First, an appropriate womb must be found for the gestation of the embryo. There are animals that are close enough - modern elephants could be used to support mammoth embryos, for example - but behavioral patterning will be much harder. In many cases we simply don't know how these animals acted in the wild - there are no zoological studies, no records other than primitive paintings and sketches on cave walls. There would be little more pathetic or sad than an animal that looked like a mammoth but acted like an Asian elephant.

Even more important is the preservation of the habitat these animals require to live. The dodo were specifically evolved to the island of Mauritius, and its ecology to them. Some of the animals in my list are big, with appetites to match. Mammoth herds might well have migrated hundreds of miles from season to season. Creating and maintaining parks for these creatures would be a massive undertaking. The animals will also be major tourist attractions, but are not the "tame wilderness" that most tourists expect to interact with - I can imagine the outcry the first time a Haast eagle carried off a toddler.

Because they are so unknown, the recovered animals may also be a new vector for diseases. Again, no Andromeda Strain scenario - just the possibility that a variation of mad cow disease could run rife through a population of aurochs.

The challenges are many, but the central questions are not scientific, but ethical: does mankind have a moral responsibility to provide the re-birth of species that our ancestors made extinct? Or should the effort be motivated solely by scientific curiosity or commercial gain? Do we have a greater responsibility to animals lost in the past, such as the mega-fauna of the Pleistocene, or should we focus our efforts on preserving the species that are endangered now? And finally, is it responsible to return extinct animals to the world when we have not yet shown that we can avoid repeating the same mistakes that killed them in the past?

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Poll
What extinct creature would you bring back?
o The mastodon. I've always wanted to have a pet named Stampy. 4%
o The mammoth. I've always wanted to have a steak like Fred Flintstone. 11%
o The elephant bird. One egg can make an omelet for the whole family! 9%
o The dodo, cause they're just so cute. 23%
o The European lion, cause it would be amusing watching them stalk BMWs on the autobahn. 51%

Votes: 72
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by Bora Horza Gobuchol


Display: Sort:
Genetic Responsibility | 309 comments (259 topical, 50 editorial, 1 hidden)
I believe this has already been addressed. (2.33 / 12) (#1)
by sllort on Mon May 03, 2004 at 04:43:15 PM EST

In his seminal troll "The Metamorphasis of Prime Intellect", localroger depicts a Universe in which an all powerful computer eliminates every living species except for man. In the stead of these species, it keeps an exact copy of their lives, slightly compressed, so that it can bring them back at any time. In the end, this mass genocide is found to be "wrong" and the Universe is "rebooted", live aliens and all.

Since the above was a troll, I think we (as reasonable people) can conclude that real morality exists as the inverse of the troll, that is, we have no duty to resurrect failed species.

However I find the similarities between your reasoning and that of a known troll disturbing.
--
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.

That's the plot? (2.28 / 7) (#28)
by godix on Mon May 03, 2004 at 10:56:35 PM EST

Jesus christ, sounds like a mix of Matrix and Twilight Zone but without any of the elements that made Matrix or Twilight Zone entertaining. This sounds almost as bad as Stephen 'what inanimate object can I bring to life this time?' King. Here's hoping the thing in more readable than it sounds like.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
It was more entertaining than that, IMHO (none / 1) (#197)
by ethereal on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:01:54 PM EST

Really, it could have been written by Asimov - there's the same focus on a machine with certain laws, and what might cause such a machine to tip over into a different way of thinking.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

+1 fp excellent (2.54 / 11) (#2)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 03, 2004 at 04:58:56 PM EST

i'd like to add two of my own:

steller's sea cow

a gigantic cold water sea cow, killed off almost overnight by hungry whale hunters

the great auk

not really a penguin, but a giant diving penguin-like bird killed off by... hungry whale hunters

depressingly enough, the last great auk was killed by hunters in the employ of naturalists interested in saving the bird in the 1880s i believe... rich dumb hobbyist naturalist interest in the great auk was so keen in europe that it drove the price of great auk corpses to such heights, it ensured their extinction ;-(


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

When these hobbyists realized they killed ... (2.77 / 9) (#94)
by pyramid termite on Tue May 04, 2004 at 03:36:35 PM EST

... the last one, it must have been an aukward moment.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
yuk yuk yuk! (2.00 / 7) (#97)
by circletimessquare on Tue May 04, 2004 at 04:44:48 PM EST

or rather:

auk auk auk!

;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

0; vertical spam. (none / 2) (#194)
by sllort on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:41:22 PM EST


--
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]
Bring back the humpback whales (2.54 / 11) (#3)
by Cro Magnon on Mon May 03, 2004 at 05:13:07 PM EST

After all, you never know when an alien probe will want to talk to them.
Information wants to be beer.
How about (none / 3) (#16)
by vyruss on Mon May 03, 2004 at 08:07:39 PM EST

taking the Enterprise for a slingshot around the sun?

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
Ya know (2.50 / 4) (#26)
by godix on Mon May 03, 2004 at 10:52:12 PM EST

If there's an alien species hiding on earth secretly monitoring our actions and reporting them to their overlords I think the correct moral thing to do is to go hunt down and slaughter each and every one of the spying alien bastards. The Japanesse are the only ones who are doing the right thing and I wish them luck on their next whaling expedition.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
What about norwegians? (none / 3) (#59)
by Hellkitten on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:30:08 AM EST

Norwegians hunts whales and this is why it's a good thing:

The population of Minke whales today is higher than it was when commercial whaling first began (think sailships and Moby Dick). This is because as the large whales were killed off more food became available to the smaller whales, that were not hunted

In order to give the remaining large whales a chance to grow in numbers you have to make their chances of surviving and breeding better, one obvious way is to decrease the number of small whales to the level it was before, freeing up the food for the larger whales



[ Parent ]
The portuguese (none / 0) (#240)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:09:59 PM EST

need to stop catching cod like thiers no tommorow, the things are at record low numbers. Then maybe there'd be more whale food.

[ Parent ]
not because of whales (none / 0) (#250)
by Hellkitten on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:24:17 AM EST

The big whales don't eat fish. They eat these microscopic shrimp like things (I have no idea what the english name for it is) that they filter out of the water

The portugese need to slow down their cod fishing alright, but for a different reason: soon they'll be out of cod and they will all be unemployed (and hungry).



[ Parent ]
Plankton [n/t] (none / 1) (#258)
by jethro on Thu May 06, 2004 at 04:52:45 PM EST



--
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
krill (nt) (none / 0) (#297)
by metalgeek on Tue May 11, 2004 at 06:01:09 AM EST



"K5 is a site where users have the motto 'Anyone Who Isn't Me Is An Idiot, And Anyone Who Disagrees With Me Is Gay'." skyknight
[ Parent ]
Responsibility? (2.42 / 7) (#4)
by megid on Mon May 03, 2004 at 05:28:17 PM EST

No we dont have the responsibility to reverse the past. Thats why it is the past, and thats why we have something as free will.

We might ponder whether it is _good_ to bring those species back, but an obligation to do so... thats a completely different matter.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."

No free will (none / 1) (#145)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:15:15 AM EST

No, you don't have free will, that's why you have no responsibility...

[ Parent ]
Depends on your definition of "free". (none / 0) (#167)
by megid on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:49:03 AM EST

If "free" == "unpredictable by any known means", then yes. If "free" == "unpredictable by any sufficiently mighty god", then no.

However my common sense (and that of the majority of humanity) suggests that we are indeed responsible for our deeds.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

No free will? Sweet! (none / 0) (#215)
by RadiantMatrix on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:52:50 PM EST

If I have no free will, then anything I do must be preordained.  I can call you an asshole all I want!  After all, if I'm doing it, it must be predestined, and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.

----------
I don't like spam - Parent ]

Darn tootin' (none / 1) (#236)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:13:27 PM EST

And if you are predestined to call me an asshole because of your reaction to me claiming you have no free will, then I maybe predestined to kick your ass, depending on how pissed off I am about your smartass responce.

[ Parent ]
not a chance. (2.16 / 6) (#5)
by the77x42 on Mon May 03, 2004 at 05:38:10 PM EST

in the great word of Pearl Jam, "It's Evolution, Baby!"


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Do the... (none / 3) (#15)
by Mine on Mon May 03, 2004 at 08:06:57 PM EST

Do the...

[ Parent ]
-1 Read the Bible. (1.04 / 21) (#6)
by Danzig on Mon May 03, 2004 at 05:48:39 PM EST

It says clearly that the only humans were Adam and Eve. See here for more details. Furthermore, God says no cloning.

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
You're no sellison. (none / 1) (#11)
by mcgrew on Mon May 03, 2004 at 07:38:51 PM EST

Oh yeah- NT!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Your lack of nt means nothing to me. (none / 1) (#13)
by Danzig on Mon May 03, 2004 at 07:51:26 PM EST

My display is nested.

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
[ Parent ]
Funny, Adam Rightmann ;) [nt] (none / 1) (#14)
by vyruss on Mon May 03, 2004 at 08:02:32 PM EST



  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
hmm (2.45 / 11) (#7)
by reklaw on Mon May 03, 2004 at 05:52:54 PM EST

I have the answer.
-
Great link! (1.75 / 4) (#137)
by ph317 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 04:33:50 AM EST


I love it - dumb fucking vegan seirra club losers decide that the best strategy is voluntary human extinction, which their members accomplish by not procreating.  I couldn't ask for more, all I ever wanted was for losers like these to promise me they'll never procreate.  My children will enjoy a happier meat-eating environment raping future with a lower quotient of peta/sierra guilt trip harrasment because of their beautiful plan.  Well I could ask for more - it's be even better if they just offed themselves instead of waiting to die and not having kids.

[ Parent ]
oh dear, sense of humour impairment [nt] (none / 1) (#157)
by reklaw on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:10:55 AM EST


-
[ Parent ]
But of course! (none / 1) (#210)
by TOGoS on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:02:13 PM EST

> My children will enjoy a happier meat-eating,
> environment-raping future

I must hearily agree! Those damn 'vegan seirra club losers' are simply too stupid to understand that the *only* way to be for humanity to thrive and be happy is to completely destroy the environment and torture meat animals by the billions in factory farms. How else do they think we can have any fun at all? Outright delusional, I tell you. They all should die!
Hello.
[ Parent ]

Related site (none / 0) (#176)
by Anonymous Hiro on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:13:05 AM EST

http://www.darwinawards.com/

[ Parent ]
What do these extinctions all have in common? (1.33 / 12) (#8)
by NaCh0 on Mon May 03, 2004 at 06:44:33 PM EST

Europeans have destroyed the ecosystem far more than any other people.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
I don't think so (none / 2) (#10)
by mcgrew on Mon May 03, 2004 at 07:38:04 PM EST

The wooley mammouth, saber tooth tiger, and others were made extinct by the original humand who settled North America from Asia 10k years ago.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Maybe not ..... (3.00 / 4) (#18)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 03, 2004 at 08:39:35 PM EST

What you speak of is a hypothesis, a theory. Most people seem to treat it as fact, perhaps in error.

The overkill hypothesis was proposed by retired University of Arizona ecologist Paul Martin in 1967 and its basic arguments haven't changed since. It claims:
  • large mammal extinctions occurred 11,000 years ago;
  • Clovis people were the first to enter North America, about 11,000 years ago;
  • Clovis people were hunters who preyed on a diverse set of now-extinct large mammals;
  • records from islands show that human colonists cause extinction;
  • therefore, Clovis people caused extinctions.

link

More recent data points to appearance of human settlements in America over 12,000 years ago. One settlement may be over 30,000 years old. The climate may have shifted at the same time the Clovis people arrived. The ecology shifted in compensation. Numerous large animals, small animals and flora became extinct.

While the traditional belief about Paleoindians is that they migrated across the "Land Bridge" between Alaska and Siberia in pursuit of big game animals, it is equally possible that Clovis and Folsum Cultures represent the end of much older Paleoindian cultures that had been well established for many millennia in the milder climates of Central and South America. On this line of speculation, what we see in the Clovis Culture is Paleoindians migrating northward, following the receding glaciers and big game animals towards their ultimate extinction. The technological developments of finely crafted fluted spear and atlatl points represents a necessary step in the adjustment of these people to substantial climatic change and the consequent changes in huntable fauna. (It is noteworthy that fluted points were never made in the Old World.) Traces of this culture are found along a north-south line in Central Canada as well as along the northern parts of Alaska.

link

In short, the link between the Clovis people and the Wooly Mammoth extinction is a correlation not a cause and effect. It is possible that the Clovis did not hunt the big mammals into extinction. Instead, the Clovis people hunted the big animals which were becoming extinct because of the climate change.



[ Parent ]

The Polish! (none / 3) (#49)
by livus on Tue May 04, 2004 at 06:31:17 AM EST

I think this article is unfairly blaming Poland, probably because it joined the EU the other day.

Don't worry a quick look at emissions shows that the US is well on the way to surpassing anything Europeans could have ever done.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Don't forget ... (none / 1) (#110)
by Saad on Tue May 04, 2004 at 07:21:11 PM EST

... that we are also responsible for killing almost all of your bisons and Native Americans.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
[ Parent ]
This is why history should be taught in schools... (none / 1) (#131)
by dasunt on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:37:23 AM EST

Europeans have destroyed the ecosystem far more than any other people.

IDIOT

Europeans don't seem to have a better or worse track record than most civilizations. Both the 'old' and 'new' worlds have had plenty of extinctions. Entire societies have fallen due to destruction of the environment.



[ Parent ]
too true (none / 1) (#163)
by wumpus on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:54:13 AM EST

Try to find any instance of any culture discovering a previously uninhabited area. You will find major exctinctions (try to remember horses evolved in the Americas, and were driven extinct shortly after human expansion: this played a major role when Cortez came to town). Europeans are simply the ones most likely to have made recent discoveries.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

Chinese (none / 0) (#298)
by metalgeek on Tue May 11, 2004 at 06:11:21 AM EST

They kill and eat everything here.
I'm amazed at how few birds I see compared to when I lived in Canada.
They've basically either eaten everything to death, or killed it to make "medicines"


"K5 is a site where users have the motto 'Anyone Who Isn't Me Is An Idiot, And Anyone Who Disagrees With Me Is Gay'." skyknight
[ Parent ]
A big roadblock (2.56 / 16) (#22)
by Undesirable Username on Mon May 03, 2004 at 09:29:41 PM EST

on the way to cloning extinct animals may be that we have no technology for building mitochondria with custom mtDNA. This isn't a problem for extant animals, since we can use eggs from another member of the species, which have perfectly good mtDNA. This probably won't work (well) for cross-species mitochondrial transfer.

That, and reconstructing a functional genome from scraps of dead cells is, well, daunting: harder than any of the sequencing projects so far. Plus, you've got to actually assemble the thing, get it to fold nicely onto chromatin, etc, etc, etc.

In other words, it's a very interesting idea, but it would cost many, many billions just to get the technology to work.

+1 from me.

fucking cool (2.23 / 13) (#23)
by Suppafly on Mon May 03, 2004 at 09:59:57 PM EST

Elephant Bird (Vouron Patra). A native of Madagascar, likely made extinct by encroachment on its habitat and the theft of its eggs (over three feet in circumference) by natives and Portuguese colonists. Slightly shorter (10 feet) than the tallest moa but more massively built, weighing up to 1100 pounds. Last recorded in 1658.

I for one would welcome back our elephant bird overlords.
---
Playstation Sucks.
An egg 3 feet around. (2.75 / 4) (#56)
by interrobanger on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:13:11 AM EST

I can't believe McDonald's isn't cloning them left and right. An egg that size could make quite a few Egg McMuffins.


===============
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Nonsense. (none / 1) (#257)
by glor on Thu May 06, 2004 at 04:41:50 PM EST

Who would eat a three-foot McMuffin?

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Americans (none / 1) (#272)
by dn on Fri May 07, 2004 at 07:48:40 PM EST

They already have their shovels ready in anticipation.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

looking beyond charismatic megafauna (2.25 / 4) (#25)
by Lode Runner on Mon May 03, 2004 at 10:49:07 PM EST

There are plenty of little critters and plants that need saving too. And what about defunct bacteria and viruses?

The reincarnated Neandertal is a tremendous idea! We could put them in zoos, just like Ota Benga.

Typical Cro-Magnon arrogance. (none / 2) (#55)
by interrobanger on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:10:24 AM EST

Neanderthals had larger brains than us, and were far stronger pound for pound. So, they were stronger and (probably) smarter than us -- maybe their true genetic failing was that they lacked the warlike nature and sheer bloodymindedness of modern man. Darwin would be proud.


===============
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Doubtful (none / 3) (#75)
by Cro Magnon on Tue May 04, 2004 at 11:03:04 AM EST

Neanderthal remains show many injuries. You don't get injured like that sitting around knitting. The Neanderthals were every bit as violent and aggressive as any "modern man".
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
If you don't get injuries sitting and knitting ... (2.50 / 4) (#84)
by glor on Tue May 04, 2004 at 01:01:45 PM EST

... why can't you take knitting needles on airplanes?

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

IHBT. (none / 2) (#125)
by Zerotime on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:17:27 AM EST

For much the same reason that you can't take screwdrivers, marlinspikes, or stilletos.

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Not that it changes anything... (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon May 03, 2004 at 10:53:31 PM EST

But wasn't the extinction of the Mammoth closer to 3000 years ago, rather than 12,000?

Seem to remember reading somewhere, that a small colony survived until then on some island off of Siberia. They were almost pygmy mammoths, due to the limited habitat...

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

Siberia (3.00 / 8) (#30)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 03, 2004 at 11:54:06 PM EST

I found this information about mammoths in Siberia

During the last glacial maximum (ca. 20 ka ago), environmental conditions on Wrangel Island proved capable of sustaining habitation by mammoths. Our data show that woolly mammoths persisted on Wrangel Island in the mid-Holocene, from 7390-3730 yr ago. 14C dating has shown that mammoths inhabited Wrangel Island for as long as 6000 yr after the estimated extinction of Mammuthus primigenius on the Siberian continent.

quote link

tourist link

Wrangel Island map



[ Parent ]
yup, read that too (none / 2) (#139)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:03:20 AM EST

think about it: mammoths were still roaming the earth while we were building the pyramids

that's fucking cool

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I suggest we use genetic engineering (1.76 / 13) (#29)
by Dr Phil on Mon May 03, 2004 at 11:44:19 PM EST

to resurrect all the great trolls Rusty has banned over the years.

*** ATTENTION *** Rusty has disabled my account for anti-Jewish views. What a fucking hypocrite.
I can't think of a single reason... (2.27 / 11) (#31)
by gzt on Tue May 04, 2004 at 12:27:16 AM EST

...we'd be morally obligated to bring a species out of extinction. If you're going to write an article asking whether we have the responsibility to do so, perhaps you should help those with poor imaginations see why this is even an issue.

It is certainly unfortunate that they are gone, but what of it? There are better toys to spend money on.

Imagination? (2.83 / 6) (#53)
by interrobanger on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:06:20 AM EST

Not really the word I'd use. Conscience, maybe. If you go to your neighbor's house and accidentally destroy his garden, would you say, "It's gone. What of it?" or would you offer to help replace the lost plants? What if you ran over his dog / cat / child? He isn't talking about animals that fell by the wayside due to poor design, he's talking about animals that humans actively erased from existence (except maybe Neanderthals, which we might have simply absorbed through interbreeding). If you just noticed that your neighbor had lost his dog (through no fault of yours), would you offer to help or just say, "It's gone. What of it?"

Of all the animals on the planet, humans alone have the ability to ask the question: We broke it, shouldn't we have to fix it? Even if we didn't break it, should we still try to fix it? The answer should be obvious: We shouldn't bring back a damn thing yet, because we'd almost certainly just kill it off again. We can barely keep ourselves going at this point, let alone protect other species from us, but there will come a time, one day (I'm an optimist, I guess) when that won't be true anymore. One day, maybe, we'll be able to do the right thing and leave this planet (for the most part) altogether. Maybe make it into a really big preserve. It gave us life and we've been taking and taking and taking (not our fault, we're just designed that way, like all animals) for a long time now. One day we might have the chance to give something back, to give Earth the chance to heal, and at that time we might decide to restore some of the species that would probably still be around if we hadn't slaughtered them. Try to restore the ecological status quo, as best we can, and then leave well enough alone. Once we're out of the nursery, evolution might bring forth a new intelligence (or put the finishing touches on cetaceans or some great ape or other), but as long as we're still crawling around down here on Earth (and breeding like rats) nothing else has a chance to evolve in peace. That seems a bit selfish to me, but the moral arugment doesn't really matter in the end -- we can't continue this way forever.

If you've read David Brin's Uplift novels you'll know what I'm talking about: leave the Earth fallow for a few dozen (or hundred) thousand years, let the global ecosystem sort itself out. If nothing interesting develops, someone can move back in for a while -- but not for so long or in a manner that puts the global ecosystem in jeopardy.


===============
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
It's certainly unfortunate... (none / 3) (#89)
by gzt on Tue May 04, 2004 at 02:23:18 PM EST

...if I accidentally destroyed his garden [dog], and I would certainly be obligated to help in whatever capacity is reasonable. But, who's the gardener in this case? To whom do we owe it? And is this the line of reasoning the author wants us to consider? This is the sort of stuff the article should address.

You seem to claim the earth [or nature] is the gardener, we owe it to the earth to replace those animals we slew, and the way to replace those animals is to clone them once we have a way to keep them alive. Okay, fine. Dandy for you.

If you're interested in my take: I just don't particularly care whether this is the last generation of humans or not, it would be no grand tragedy if we were. I don't see any virtue to the development of "new intelligence", either, whatever that means. We do have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this earth and to treat it responsibly [and causing the extinction of animals is certainly never responsible]. However, if there is an obligation to keep a species alive, it only seems to extend to those animals yet living, not future generations, and if they're all dead, I don't see an obligation. One can certainly make new ones, but that does not make it right, since you already killed those others. I don't care about genetic potential or future possibilities for evolution.

[ Parent ]

What does conscience have to do with it? (none / 1) (#122)
by sully on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:30:00 AM EST

If you accidentaly destroyed your neighbor's garden, you'd have a responsibility to *your neighbor* to fix it. Who, or even what (not that you can really be obliged to an object), do we owe for wooly mammoths? An animal that's been extinct for several thousand years certainly isn't filling any vital ecological role. I don't understand what the root of an obligation to long-extinct megafauna might be. There are plenty of good reasons for protecting biodiversity, habitat quality, etc., but trying to make up for hurting mother earth's feelings doesn't seem to be one of them.

[ Parent ]
oops. (none / 0) (#123)
by sully on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:33:18 AM EST

Wow, if I'd paid more attention I could have avoided saying exactly the same thing as gzt. At least I needn't fear moral aloneness...

[ Parent ]
what is the source of any sense of responsibility? (none / 3) (#141)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:14:11 AM EST

answer: a conscience

what is the source of our conscience?

answer: caring... not uniquely human, but certainly highly developed in our species: empathy, an ability to "put ourselves in someone else's shoes"

you say we have no responsibility to bring back species we killed

well, you will be right when you stop human beings from having empathy

that's not going to happen anytime soon

so develop a better understanding of human nature and a better line of reasoning


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Bastard. (3.00 / 5) (#164)
by gzt on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:01:08 AM EST

Quit implying I don't understand man or have a conscience. My point was that it is not obvious that we must jump from it was wrong to kill off species X to we must clone species X. Not making the jump does not mean I do not have a conscience and am not a human, you prick.

[ Parent ]
well maybe you don't have a conscience (none / 1) (#223)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:37:13 PM EST

becuse i just told you how the leap is made from species x is dead to lets clone species x: compassion, a conscience, and you still don't see it LOL


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Conscience? (none / 1) (#225)
by gzt on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:57:31 PM EST

Look, kid, I don't come by where you work and slap the dick out of your mouth. Don't talk to me about conscience and compassion.

[ Parent ]
i agree (none / 1) (#238)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:56:52 PM EST

by the way you speak, you certainly couldn't talk to me about conscience lol

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
dear sir, (none / 1) (#253)
by Battle Troll on Thu May 06, 2004 at 08:11:50 AM EST

You are an assclown.

Discuss.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

dear sir (none / 1) (#266)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 11:00:36 PM EST

the clowns in my ass are unionizing, please send help

thank you

er

discuss

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

don't step, bitch. (none / 0) (#262)
by rmg on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:41:37 PM EST

don't fuck with gzt or i'll come down on your bitch ass like a haast eagle on a luau, you got that motherfucker?

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

no you didn't! no you didn't! (nt) (none / 2) (#265)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:59:45 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
dear sir (none / 0) (#174)
by Battle Troll on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:07:31 AM EST

You are an assclown.

Discuss.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

dear sir (none / 0) (#222)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:35:46 PM EST

the clowns in my ass are unionizing

discuss


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Quack, heal thyself (none / 0) (#205)
by DoomHaven on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:48:40 PM EST

Your little moral arguments about "caring", "empathy" and "conscience" are pretty hypocritical coming from one who is running around this site calling others "fucktwit" and "fuck". May I assume by your antipathy that you are subhuman?

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
aw (none / 3) (#221)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:35:06 PM EST

somebody needs a hug

LOL

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

fucking amazing aim (2.00 / 6) (#33)
by killmepleez on Tue May 04, 2004 at 12:50:49 AM EST

Some people say we're causing massive extinctions, and that those extinctions are tilting the environmental balance too far and we should stop. Well, I say those people are quitters. There's still one more species that we've left to multiply dangerously.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
yea (none / 3) (#34)
by khallow on Tue May 04, 2004 at 01:34:49 AM EST

We need to off those people. If it's such a great idea, then I don't understand why they aren't taking their own advice.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

sets and sects? (none / 1) (#64)
by killmepleez on Tue May 04, 2004 at 09:14:53 AM EST

In a set of time-ordered objects, we will have two elements which are the Greatest Lower Bound and Least Upper Bound, respectively. Being LUB or GLB doesn't, however, disqualify those elements from remaining true members of the set. Therefore, while members of the C.O.E. are offering to stay behind and help everyone else jump off, being the last to go doesn't necessarily belie their stated creed.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
let's reorder that se(c)t (none / 0) (#108)
by khallow on Tue May 04, 2004 at 06:56:57 PM EST

True, but I think things would be better for all concerned, if the ordering were different. Ie, the C.O.E. elements should be before the "I don't wanna die" elements of the set.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Voluntary Human Extinction (none / 0) (#224)
by egeland on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:42:21 PM EST

In other words, STOP BREEDING!

http://www.vhemt.org/

--
Some interesting quotes
[ Parent ]

Neanderthals were people (2.36 / 11) (#41)
by Blarney on Tue May 04, 2004 at 05:11:22 AM EST

Bringing back animals is all fine and good, I'd certainly be glad to see furry elephants roam the Midwestern United States once again.

But Neanderthals - those are people. Many researchers believe that they could and did interbreed with modern human beings. In other words, they weren't a separate species, merely a race of humanity. The more distorted anatomical features - like a hunchbacked possibly knuckewalking gait - were likely due to an early specimen which was an old man with arthritis rather than a typical individual.

A race of stout, thick-skulled people with sloping foreheads, but people just the same. Their genes almost certainly live on - you've probably seen people who look like that.

Not the same species (2.00 / 4) (#51)
by Gerhard on Tue May 04, 2004 at 07:30:00 AM EST

Neanderthals was different species of genus Homo and thus they are not human. However they were human in appearance.

[ Parent ]
Depends on how you define 'species' and 'human'. (2.20 / 5) (#71)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue May 04, 2004 at 10:35:00 AM EST

The definition that I learned growing up was that two groups were different species if they could not interbreed successfully. Apparently this definition has fallen into disfavor because many "obviously different" species can and do interbreed. These days they define species by appearance and geography - and by that definition the modern races of man are also different species.

So, if that's the case, what were neanderthals except one more race of man?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Quest for Fire (2.50 / 6) (#78)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue May 04, 2004 at 11:52:23 AM EST

Haven't you ever seen "Quest for Fire?" Neanderthals are hot and they have sex ALL THE TIME.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
More precisely (none / 2) (#112)
by falsedan on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:07:18 PM EST

two groups were different species if they could not interbreed successfully

The definition you're referring to was more along these lines: two groups are separate species if their offspring are not sexually viable.
Classic example: Horse+Donkey => Mule. Mules are sterile, so horses and donkeys belong to separate species.

Nowadays the definition of a species is more in-depth and includes such things as what the group eats, where the group lives and who the group breeds with.



[ Parent ]
Buffalo, cows, wolves, dogs, coyotes (none / 1) (#162)
by Blarney on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:37:16 AM EST

I think it's odd that one can go buy a fertile Beefalo, but cows and buffalo are considered different species. Or you can buy a fertile "wolf-dog". And it's okay to shoot a coyote, but not a wolf or a dog.

[ Parent ]
Same thing. (none / 1) (#171)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:01:06 AM EST

Sorry, I used "successfully" rather than go further down the gopher hole of explaining about mules, snap-dragons and so on.


Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
Genetic flow (none / 1) (#150)
by Gerhard on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:54:42 AM EST

The key to defining a biological species is that there is no significant cross-flow of genetic material between the two populations. Neanderthal share a common ancestor with humans but the different human races share an common ancestor that they do not share with Neanderthals. There is also a strong flow of genetic between human races so they form a single species but the Neanderthal / human flow is weak en thus they form a different species.

[ Parent ]
I think that's under dispute. (none / 1) (#169)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:58:08 AM EST

I could be wrong, but I thought the possibility of interbreeding between homo sapiens sapiens and homo neanderthalus was still under discussion?

Certainly there is evidence that both species existed in Europe at the same time.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Remember (none / 2) (#175)
by Magnetic North on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:08:13 AM EST

It's important to remember that definitions of species like the one you just stated, are just that, definitions.

It might make sense for mammals, and it might be practical to have this concept for a biologist, but once people start believing that these concepts are anything but abstract definitions, things get out of hand. Just look at this article.

"All is flux, nothing stays still."



--
<33333
[ Parent ]
yes, bring them back! (none / 1) (#65)
by speek on Tue May 04, 2004 at 09:43:14 AM EST

Think of all their suffering!

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Bah (2.50 / 4) (#70)
by smg on Tue May 04, 2004 at 10:30:21 AM EST

The interbreeding theory is pretty much bunk these days, as there is very little evidence supporting it: one "hybrid" skeleton. Because of the obvious morphological differences between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens it's likely that the genetic differences were also vast, meaning that any hybrids would be sterile.

[ Parent ]
Invite a Neanderthal to dinner (2.75 / 8) (#76)
by IHCOYC on Tue May 04, 2004 at 11:17:28 AM EST

My understanding is that a great number of Neanderthal finds, including Krapina and Moula-Guercy, show signs of cooking and eating.

Many palaeontologists think that the people who cooked and ate the Neanderthals at these sites were not other Neanderthals, but rather anatomically modern humans. If this is so, it would appear that anatomically modern humans had a hand in the Neanderthal extinction by hunting them for game, at least in some areas. It seems unlikely that they ever mixed socially.

Then again, a game animal that is almost as smart as a person, is good to eat, might be just the sort of animal we ought to be stocking.
--
Nisi mecum concubueris, phobistæ vicerint.
   --- Catullus
[ Parent ]

Obligatory... (none / 1) (#206)
by SPYvSPY on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:55:30 PM EST

SOILENT GREEN IS PEEEEEEEOOOOOPLE!!
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Didn't you know? (none / 0) (#239)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:05:09 PM EST

The Neanderthals selectively bred themselves into looking just like humans, and have controlled us ever since, they created modern civilization. Yes my friends, the Neandethal are the much speculated Iluminati, and they are amonst us. These creatures posses great intelligence and little remorse.

[ Parent ]
I read that book too (none / 0) (#286)
by zrail on Sat May 08, 2004 at 08:45:30 PM EST

Wish I could remember the name. It was an interesting read.

[ Parent ]
So... (none / 0) (#302)
by xcham on Wed May 12, 2004 at 06:56:05 PM EST

That explains the fact that George Dubya's head is mostly skull and not much brain? And his diminished abilities in language (I was under the impression that the Neanderthals couldn't speak)?

[ Parent ]
Actually, (none / 0) (#303)
by Zerotime on Fri May 14, 2004 at 12:35:12 AM EST

it's probably more along the lines of The Voting of the Doomed.

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Silly. (2.55 / 9) (#47)
by farlukar on Tue May 04, 2004 at 06:25:37 AM EST

It is important to note that we're not talking Jurassic Park scenarios here.

It will be Jurassic Park.
If you're going to spend astronomical amounts of pecunia for the sake of biodiversity, spend it on preservation of threatened species so you won't have to do the genetic jiggery-pokery 100 years later.
______________________
$ make install not war

evolutionary perspective (2.09 / 11) (#52)
by CAIMLAS on Tue May 04, 2004 at 07:36:00 AM EST

Looking at this from a completely evolutionary perspective, we have no obligation to anyone for anything. We are responsible to ourselves to get ahead of everyone else and to produce as many offspring as possible so as to further the chance of our (hopefully superior) genes to get passed on to future generations. The species that have become extinct did not adapt fast enough, or hit an 'evolutionary dead-end'. It's sort of a perverse twist between commercialism and the Catholic church.

What's more, according to evolutionary science, you're nothing more or nothing less than an emu, snail, dog, or monkey. You're just another animal. Your concept of "morality" is insignificant, and at best, trite. There is no such thing as morality, as we are all evolved from apes. We simply have instinct and learned traits, which we inherrited from our parents or learned from those around us.

If you're going to use evolution for your basis of discussion, you need to at least unify on that  factuality, otherwise you effectively throw out your own argument through contradiction.  

--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Evolutionary perspective? (2.33 / 6) (#58)
by interrobanger on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:27:58 AM EST

And here I was thinking one of the perks of being human was that we'd evolved beyond the genetic imperative to look at things that way, for better or worse. Survival of the fittest doesn't have to mean "We haven't won the evolution game until we're the last animal standing."


===============
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Contradiction? (none / 2) (#81)
by rpresser on Tue May 04, 2004 at 12:23:47 PM EST

If we've "evolved beyond the genetic imperative," then why should preserving any genes -- ours, extant animals, or extinct ones -- be important?  Why not just give ourselves free reign over life on earth -- let us construct any damn animal we please, and destroy it at will?
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]
No dice. (none / 2) (#113)
by gzt on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:13:54 PM EST

Well, the phrase "evolved beyond the genetic imperative" is pretty damn lame, but if you take it to mean, "Ethical questions are not to be answered by evolutionary arguments" - genetics has no imperatives, only genes - it's sort of sensible and your argument is stupid. Consider: for ages, people never took thought of these arguments from evolution in their systems of ethics, and yet we usually did not come up with the answer that we may destroy species at will, even in systems of thought where we are thought to be given reign over life on earth. True, these systems of ethics aren't about preserving genes, which is pretty stupid IMO, but about preserving life and treating the world respectfully and responsibly [whatever those mean in the respective ethical system].

[ Parent ]
only problems (none / 2) (#60)
by khallow on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:46:00 AM EST

Looking at this from a completely evolutionary perspective, we have no obligation to anyone for anything. We are responsible to ourselves to get ahead of everyone else and to produce as many offspring as possible so as to further the chance of our (hopefully superior) genes to get passed on to future generations. The species that have become extinct did not adapt fast enough, or hit an 'evolutionary dead-end'. It's sort of a perverse twist between commercialism and the Catholic church.

Why are we looking at this from this viewpoint? Oh...

If you're going to use evolution for your basis of discussion, you need to at least unify on that factuality, otherwise you effectively throw out your own argument through contradiction.

You have a misconception about evolution and we're supposed to "unify" around this misconception and invalidate the original argument.

The key counter is that we don't have to operate in an evolutionary regime. For a nontrivial example, cloning one's intellect into von Neumann machines and spreading throughout the universe. Your genetic information could be completely lost, but the far more interesting intelligence resting on top of those genes could be preserved for the age of the universe which is the reverse of the current situation. Or we can construct a genetic database and preserve the genetics of every living organism we ever discover or create.

Further, evolution is a process not a code of ethics. It doesn't assign ethic responsibilities or obligations to us. We may experience harm from not chosing to propagate our genes and ethically allowing one to propagate their genes is assumed as a foundation of most ethical systems.

Also, we ignore the value of this work to our future existence as a species. For example, was making the Mammoths exinct beneficial to propagation of my genes? I doubt it. Will bringing them back help? Actually, it probably would, if for no reason other than to increase the avenues by which my genes can propagate.

What's more, according to evolutionary science, you're nothing more or nothing less than an emu, snail, dog, or monkey. You're just another animal. Your concept of "morality" is insignificant, and at best, trite. There is no such thing as morality, as we are all evolved from apes. We simply have instinct and learned traits, which we inherrited from our parents or learned from those around us.

You neglect that those learned traits allow us to master control over evolutionary processes that no other species more complicated than a virus or some bacteria has ever had. We have options and power available to us that no other species has.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

That's one way to look at it (2.00 / 4) (#61)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:59:18 AM EST

Another way would be to say that we, humans, are noble creatures, with spirit (soul) that sets us apart from the rest of the creatures inhabiting this blue/green planet of ours.

Evolution, btw, does not dictate your view. It is not a finite theory, there is still a significant amount of research going on. The jury is still out on the exact origin of our species, because we have already seen that the species we thought were our precursors in fact lived for a while side by side with us.

Your view on (non)existence of morality is certainly valid, but is still just a view, no more true (or more false) than that of a person who views morality as a firm factor our universe.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
the soul is a tricky thing (none / 2) (#68)
by thankyougustad on Tue May 04, 2004 at 10:21:02 AM EST

Why do just humans have a spirit/soul. Wouldn't we all have them? Or none of us? Humans are essentially like every other animal out there.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Aristotle begs to differ (none / 2) (#77)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 04, 2004 at 11:26:00 AM EST

At the risk of sounding patronising, yours is a simplistic one-size-fits-all view. There are several schools of philosophy, many theories of the origin and nature (and existence thereof) of humanity; unless you claim to have discovered the sole print of "Universe: Requirements and Specifications", I suggest you phrase your views more humbly.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Aristotle was wrong about a lot of things ... (none / 3) (#99)
by planders on Tue May 04, 2004 at 04:50:34 PM EST

For instance, that the brain exists merely to cool the blood. While this is true for the vast majority of Wal-Mart shoppers, occasionally humans have been known to use the brain for other purposes.

[ Parent ]
Sigh! (n/t) (none / 0) (#106)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 04, 2004 at 06:12:39 PM EST


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Sadly (none / 0) (#188)
by thankyougustad on Wed May 05, 2004 at 12:44:32 PM EST

I'm not sure I'm intrested in what Aristotle has to say about the soul. I don't understand what fundamental difference would make anyone think animals don't have souls but humans do. Or vice versa. It's simple anthropomorphism.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Evolution is no longer a selfcontained process (2.20 / 5) (#62)
by trezor on Tue May 04, 2004 at 09:05:10 AM EST

In the past, before humans developed weapons, industry, effective ways of travel and all the pollution that goes with this, we could count on evolution to do a nice job sorting things out.

Evolution however, is a slow process. It takes a long time to ensure that the ecosystems are balanced and that animals being wherever they are, are actually adapted to their environment. We however, are moving things way faster than evolution, and you'd be damned arrogant if you think we haven't made mistakes in all our "superiority" to the rest of nature.

My guess is that if we go on like we do now, we will ruin the basis of much life on the planet and thus ruin the basis for our human life in the process. Which will ofcourse make our own species extinct in the end. Hows that for "superiority"?

You do remember that there are such things as ecosystem, that it needs to be balanced in order to sustain over time, and that we are messing with more or less any ecosystem we find?

If your "I really couldn't care less"-attitude comes from the fact that you think this doesn't affect you, you are wrong. It will affect you, or your coming family.

And if you in all your "I just care about me and my genes" philosophy is consistent, well you should care.

With power comes responsibility. We, with our power, have undone evolution and then it is our responsibility to restore something at least somewhat alike it.


--
Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
This isn't new (none / 3) (#86)
by NoBeardPete on Tue May 04, 2004 at 01:26:01 PM EST

When life first evolved, there was barely any oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. All of the earliest life was anaerobic. Oxygen was poisonous to it. At some point, a new type of process evolved, which allowed cells to efficiently converty sunlight to useful energy. This process produces oxygen as a waste product. As the population of photosynthesizing cells exploded, the oxygen content of the atmosphere rose dramatically. Some small fraction of the Earth's life adapted. Most of it went extinct, including many of the cells that produced the oxygen.

This does not constitute evolution being "undone". From an evolutionary persepective, this is how it goes. Many species have ruined their enviornment in a similar way, and thereby driven themselves into extinction. It's pretty common for them to take a bunch of other species with them.

Now, evolution doesn't make any moral claims. Just because something can be considered natural, or it has a similar precedent, doesn't make it good, or even prudent. We would be foolish to poison ourselves out of existence. But this is completely separate from any evolutionary aspect to things.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

This is called the naturalistic falacy (2.91 / 12) (#85)
by NoBeardPete on Tue May 04, 2004 at 01:18:27 PM EST

Evolution is a description of how things happen. Like any sort of science, it is descriptive, and allows us to make predictions about what may happen in the future. In no way does it tell us how we ought to behave, or what we are obliged to do. We may use our scientific understanding to better understand the choices we are faced with, but the science is only relevent in that it helps us to understand just what are options are. When it comes time to choose between those options, science is irrelevant.

Perhaps, from an evolutionary perspective, I am nothing more than an emu, snail, dog, or monkey. From a chemical perspective, I'm pretty much a sack of fluids and proteins that have fairly complex interactions. From a physics based perspective, I can be thought of as a big pile of atoms, bouncing off of each other. What the hell does that have to do with morality, or what I ought to be doing?


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Evolutionary perspective? (2.42 / 7) (#90)
by gzt on Tue May 04, 2004 at 02:31:54 PM EST

Wanker. Foolish wanker. Science does not tell you waht you ought to do. It does not answer the questions, "How shall we live? What shall we do?" Science does not tell you whether you are more or less than a snail. Evolution does not say what genes are superior, either! Evolution does not tell you what your responsibilities are. Fool! Evolution does not say whether you should reproduce or not. Evolution does not say whether you should reproduce with a sleek female. Evolution says nothing. Wanker! Go home and learn SCIENCE. Quit bringing your idiotic superstitions into discussions of science, your foolish religion is what's holding back science.

[ Parent ]
What about. . . (1.75 / 4) (#69)
by thankyougustad on Tue May 04, 2004 at 10:28:24 AM EST

carcharodon megalodon?! Okay so it probably died two million years ago. . . so man wasn't responsible for its extinction. . . but a few hundred of these swimming around could sure liven things up on this boring ol dustball of a planet. I'd pay taxes to see this kind of thing.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

Resurrection Vs Conservation (2.33 / 9) (#91)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Tue May 04, 2004 at 02:42:12 PM EST

As much and all as I would love to see some wooly mammoths running around terrorising Siberians, I would have to object to any such attempt at genetic ressurection. My main issue would be the sheer cost of the damm operation.

For the kind of money you would be willing to spend to bring back such creatures, it would make more sense to spend said amount on trying to save the poor critters currently topping the final days list (i.e. soon to be extinct). The concept makes for a good "What If" type discussion, but I'm sure most reasonable people would much rather put such money into more actionable conservation plans and save those animals that are here with us now.


Ah, Del Monte!


We should mount a campaign. (2.66 / 9) (#95)
by walwyn on Tue May 04, 2004 at 03:36:42 PM EST

to save the polio virus before its too late.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
It is saved. (none / 2) (#126)
by Wulfius on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:17:37 AM EST

All the nasties including the bubonic plague are preserved in class 5 labs around the planet.

After all, what better biological weapon than something that has been 'extinct'.
No vaccinations, no medical texts, no immunity.

Perfect.

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

But it isn't free. (2.28 / 7) (#136)
by walwyn on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:57:27 AM EST

What are the Animal Liberation Front and PETA doing to save it from the evil researchers?

Where are the breakins?

----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]

Since we all know that viruses are animals (n/t) (none / 0) (#226)
by ensignyu on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:00:22 PM EST

 

[ Parent ]
On science for joy and the value of human life (2.28 / 7) (#101)
by K5 Troll Authority on Tue May 04, 2004 at 05:04:49 PM EST

It's quite an enjoyment to foresee the coming of age of such advanced genetic techniques but I must disagree.

We can not, and should not, spare a single dollar for this "entertainment science" while at the same time people starve. We should take advantadge of these techniques to develop better crops, and stop  spending so much on war, and stop spending on scientific "programs" of dubious results such as the Space Station which, even if it does really exist, has yet to produce any scientific result of actual value.

K5: we get laid more than Slashdot goons — TheGreenLantern

There will always be starving people (none / 1) (#117)
by blackpaw on Tue May 04, 2004 at 10:10:30 PM EST

And if we devote all resources to them then you guarentee a misery for all else

[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 2) (#121)
by enterfornone on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:11:55 AM EST

The US has enough food sitting in storage to feed all the starving people in third world nations. However if they gave it away they would make less money than they do under the current illusion of scarcity.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Rubbish (nt) (none / 1) (#148)
by blackpaw on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:49:59 AM EST



[ Parent ]
If they gave it away ... (none / 3) (#199)
by cdguru on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:23:22 PM EST

people would expect it, rely on it, and when it eventually went away everyone would hate the US for not providing the world with food.

Sounds about the same situation as today.

Except, there would be more mouths to feed later. We should concentrate on things that will reduce the population quickly rather than worrying about feeding the already too-crowded masses of humanity.

Sounds like just the thing for some newly-revivied wild animals.

[ Parent ]

reduce the population quickly (none / 0) (#304)
by enterfornone on Fri May 14, 2004 at 04:54:36 AM EST

Well the US is leading the world in that department.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 1) (#217)
by skyknight on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:00:03 PM EST

most starvation in the world today is the result of despots using hunger as a weapon.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Who is this "we"? [nt] (none / 0) (#200)
by Julian Morrison on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:31:38 PM EST



[ Parent ]
You, sir, are a moron (2.42 / 21) (#104)
by debacle on Tue May 04, 2004 at 05:49:24 PM EST

Not a single reptile, amphibian, fish, invertibrate on the list. You think humans can be genetic messiahs? Lets resurrect 2 foot cockroaches and mosquitos that can kill a horse.

Until your bias for cute and cuddly creatures can be destroyed, you don't know a fucking thing about ecology.

Conservation is the act of replacing natural resources so that they can be used in the future. There are no morals, ethics, or virtues to conservation. It is a self-preserving crock of shit. If we really cared about ecology, extinction, and the environment, we'd all jump off the highest building we could find, with all of our family members in tow.

It tastes sweet.

I feel your pain (none / 1) (#116)
by khallow on Tue May 04, 2004 at 09:09:35 PM EST

Until your bias for cute and cuddly creatures can be destroyed, you don't know a fucking thing about ecology.

Yea. It's not enough that you should agree with me. But you need to agree with me in the right way which means using tools like bike chains, baseball bats, and a lot of pain.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

OT: Your sig and Civilization (none / 1) (#133)
by Highlander on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:07:12 AM EST

Your sig reads: There were no nukes before women were allowed to vote.

This reminds me of Sid Meiers Civilization game, where building "Womans Suffrage" gives less unrest when sending troops(men) to war.

I have wondered whether this makes sense; I have four explanations, the women really vote like this; the men are desparate to get away from home; or there is simply a higher number of women voters that don't care about the war. Also working women make a war more feasible.

Doesn't really convince me, but a handy thought when you really want to make some woman mad.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

What strikes me (none / 0) (#153)
by livus on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:01:56 AM EST

is that the Tasmanian Human was wiped out by Europeans a few years before the Tasmanian Tiger was similarly wiped out by Europeans.

Why is this person not on the list?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Because they're still alive on the mainland? (none / 0) (#277)
by Zerotime on Sat May 08, 2004 at 02:15:14 AM EST



---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Everyone has biases (none / 0) (#189)
by roystgnr on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:09:59 PM EST

You, for example, apparantly empathize strongly with repellent, annoying creatures like giant insects for some reason.  Try to accept that other people, even non-morons, may express different preferences.

Try to look on the bright side of this article's list, too: although it describes the idea as controversial, it does discuss the possibility of resurrecting prehuman anthropoids, animals which might resemble trolls more than modern humans.  You strike me as the sort of person who would be pleased to see more trolls in the world!

[ Parent ]

"Mosquitos that can kill a horse" (none / 1) (#234)
by Elendale on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:42:04 PM EST

I don't know where you live, but around here that kind of insect isn't in short supply. Northern Minnesotans don't carry heavy duty shotguns for no reason, you know!
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
What's wrong with; (none / 0) (#246)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:54:35 PM EST

Zoos full of every animal, and DNA banks as insurance? There may come a day when a particular animal becomes usefull. Not caring if a species becoms extinct is short sighted.

[ Parent ]
Would Will The Creationists Do Then? (2.25 / 4) (#107)
by robroadie on Tue May 04, 2004 at 06:13:26 PM EST

A New York Times Link

This is an exciting possibility. (2.26 / 19) (#109)
by rmg on Tue May 04, 2004 at 07:10:00 PM EST

I've been on safari in Africa on quite a few occasions. There's so much regulation these days, it's quite an ordeal though. Time was, you could shoot an elephant and get yourself a nice souvenir without having to break into a national wildlife preserve. Government regulation and the special interest groups in Washington have turned poachers into criminals.

The prospect of hunting these new "super animals," if you will, will surely reduce pressures on today's comparatively less exotic endangered populations. These "aurochs," for example, are truly fascinating beasts, as are these enormous "elephant birds" -- they will almost certainly eclipse contemporary large game in terms of interest and demand. I have no doubt that avid hunters like myself will pay top dollar for the opportunity to test their metal against such strange prehistoric creatures.

In a time when men are finding fewer outlets for their primal urges, this is just what we need. Finally, man can once again face his ancient nemeses, like Mastadon and the Neanderthal, in mortal kombat.

This is an historic opportunity to revive lost values of honor and valor one can only properly experience through the hunt. I hope our president will do everything he can to spur research in this important area.

----

dave dean

In pseudo code (none / 1) (#132)
by Highlander on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:53:33 AM EST

define hunter.valor
 {
  do {
   hunter.shoot(animal);
  } while(animal.runs_away)

  if(!animal.dead)
   hunter.run_away;
 }


Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

What was that gobbledegook? (none / 0) (#183)
by rmg on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:36:15 AM EST

Look, son, if you got something to say, say it.

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

I'll Say It (none / 2) (#213)
by virg on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:41:13 PM EST

> Look, son, if you got something to say, say it.

OK, Dad, killing an animal from a long way off with a high-powered rifle doesn't make you a good hunter. If you think that being a sniper makes you good at it, then you're a coward. Go out and try to bring down a deer in your own back yard with a baseball bat, and I'll consider you a good hunter (and yes, it can, I know someone personally who killed an 8-point buck with his belt because it charged him). Until then, I'm completely unimpressed.

Rifles don't make good hunters. Ranged weapons don't make good hunters. You're not doing it for food, so you have no excuse for doing it the easy way. When you can tell a story about dropping that tiger with a machete then you can talk. Until then you're just someone who gets off on overwhelming odds.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
With a baseball bat is a bit difficult, (3.00 / 5) (#218)
by rmg on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:12:34 PM EST

But I did once dispatch a kangaroo in the outback with five inch utility knife. It was a rabid one. A very strange sight indeed. Came right for me. Managed to dodge its first go at me, slung a rope around its neck to stun it, and used the only weapon at my disposal, the aforementioned blade, to cut its throat.

I've met a hostile tiger once and had to kill it with a hand gun as I mentioned elsewhere in the comments. It is easy for someone who has never faced one of those fearsome beasts to crack wise about machetes and other nonsense. I can assure you, a lesser man might easily have died in that confrontation even with a much more powerful weapon. Tigers are huge beasts, monsters really, capable of breaking every bone in a man's body in a single strike, laying his bowels wide open.

A post like yours is proof of how much our culture has lost. Such nancying is just sickening to these old eyes.

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Continuances (none / 1) (#256)
by virg on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:50:57 PM EST

> I've met a hostile tiger once and had to kill it with a hand gun as I mentioned elsewhere in the comments. It is easy for someone who has never faced one of those fearsome beasts to crack wise about machetes and other nonsense. I can assure you, a lesser man might easily have died in that confrontation even with a much more powerful weapon. Tigers are huge beasts, monsters really, capable of breaking every bone in a man's body in a single strike, laying his bowels wide open.

Wow. A tiger can kill a human being? That's news to me. You thoroughly missed my point. See below.

> A post like yours is proof of how much our culture has lost. Such nancying is just sickening to these old eyes.

Good. I hope it continues to sicken you for the rest of your days, which I hope are notably shortened by a wildlife preserve ranger's bullet from long range. You call it nancying, where I call it a wake-up call. Here's the point I alluded to above. I've never been in a situation where I had to try to take on a tiger with any weapon, because there's never been a reason for me to need to kill a tiger. It's sickening to these new eyes that you feel the need to go out and kill something just for the fun of it no matter what weapon you use, and I say that if you need to stroke your old-world bigness by fighting a tiger, you should do it on even grounds. If you're not willing to fight a tiger without a firearm, how about you consider not going somewhere to kill tigers? If you're not hunting for food, then you're hunting for sport, and you have no room to claim any ability with sport until you're willing to be sporting about it.

In short, fight on level grounds, or stay the hell home and keep your mouth shut. You're still just an unimpressive sniper who thinks that superior arms makes you better at the hunt.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Ridiculous! (none / 2) (#259)
by rmg on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:03:54 PM EST

Hunting tigers is completely illegal and, frankly, immoral and I certainly never did such a thing. As I remarked elsewhere, I ran afoul of the beast while hunting elephants in the North of India. I was seperated from my party when the tiger attacked and I had no choice but to defend myself.

I'd hardly say that was a situation where superior arms took the day. It was a situation where my lightening reflexes saved me from being shredded by a 700 pound monster. I heard it coming at the absolute last second, turned, and fired. If I could have avoided killing him, I certainly would have. I have great respect for such noble hunters as he and all of his African brothers. When pressed, though, I had to defend myself.

Your tame existence has dulled your wits and crippled your sense of honor. You've lost the warrior's spirit that has sustained mankind through the millenia.

Unlike you, I don't think I am above the tiger of the jungle or the lion of the savannah. Man, too, is a hunter and he must stay true to his roots, lest his spirit wither. But man is not fleet of foot like the cheetah, nor strong of claw like the leopard. His strength is his wit and his tools. A lone man cannot bring down a wild elephant with a baseball bat or spear, but through his wit, he can stalk and corner the creature and do it in with a well aimed shot from his rifle.

I should be clear on one point though. A hunter does not set out to inflict a lingering death on his prey. He shoots for an instant kill. That cannot be acheived at long range. It takes a perfect shot at a range of no more than 80 yards to bring down the Indian Elephant.

Your greenness shows in your posts, my boy. When you've bagged your first elephant, you come back and lecture me about sportsmanship.

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Ridiculous Indeed (none / 1) (#270)
by virg on Fri May 07, 2004 at 04:55:59 PM EST

> Hunting tigers is completely illegal and, frankly, immoral and I certainly never did such a thing. As I remarked elsewhere, I ran afoul of the beast while hunting elephants in the North of India. I was seperated from my party when the tiger attacked and I had no choice but to defend myself.

What exactly were you hunting those elephants with? A club? A spear? Because you felt the need to go drill a big animal for no good reason, you found yourself in a situation where you had to defend yourself from one of these grand noble hunters. Get the point? You killed the tiger because your ego put you in a position where you had to kill a tiger. Maybe if you weren't stomping around India killing animals for fun, you would never have had to kill that tiger.

> I'd hardly say that was a situation where superior arms took the day. It was a situation where my lightening reflexes saved me from being shredded by a 700 pound monster. I heard it coming at the absolute last second, turned, and fired. If I could have avoided killing him, I certainly would have. I have great respect for such noble hunters as he and all of his African brothers. When pressed, though, I had to defend myself.

It was indeed a case of superior arms. You shot it with a firearm. Ever had to dodge the bullets a tiger fired at you? Who cares if you were doing it at the last minute? Your inability to see it coming from a distance meant that you had only moments to act. If you'd been as good a hunter as the tiger, you'd have seen it coming sooner, eh? Instead, you made up for your sensory disadvantage by having a weapon far in excess of the tiger, and you still almost lost. I'm still waiting to hear how that makes you a good hunter.

> Your tame existence has dulled your wits and crippled your sense of honor. You've lost the warrior's spirit that has sustained mankind through the millenia.

Please. Warrior's spirit? How does shooting a target the size of a bus with a huge rifle make you a warrior? It makes you a wasteful killer, since I seriously doubt there's any compelling need for you to kill an elephant. You're not waging war on elephants, and you're using a ranged weapon on something that can't shoot back. There's no honor in needless trophy hunting. I'm stiil waiting to hear how that makes you a "warrior spirit".

> Unlike you, I don't think I am above the tiger of the jungle or the lion of the savannah.

Unlike you, I don't kill things just to prove that I can kill them. That puts me in a far better position to claim empathy with those lions and tigers than you can claim. Have you ever seen a tiger kill something without needing to?

> Man, too, is a hunter and he must stay true to his roots, lest his spirit wither.

Bollocks. Man's spirit is in his mind, not in his body. Staying true to your roots in this way is ludicrous, because the men at your roots didn't hunt for the hell of it. They hunted for need, and when they didn't need, they did other stuff like build things and learn things. That's the spirit. You might try it some time instead of wasting it crawling around in the bushes.

> A lone man cannot bring down a wild elephant with a baseball bat or spear, but through his wit, he can stalk and corner the creature and do it in with a well aimed shot from his rifle.

A lone man can also figure out that there are better things to do with his time than massage his ego by stalking a dump-truck-sized animal for shits and giggles.

> I should be clear on one point though. A hunter does not set out to inflict a lingering death on his prey. He shoots for an instant kill. That cannot be acheived at long range. It takes a perfect shot at a range of no more than 80 yards to bring down the Indian Elephant.

You could kill it from a quarter mile away with a badly aimed RPG. Why do you take it only to a certain level with the rifle, and think that makes you some big deal? You're either using your wits and your tools, in which case you're sadly underutilizing both, or you're showing off your hunting skill, in which case you're fighting with superior arms. You don't need the elephant for meat, so pick one. If you're not willing to hunt on a level playing field, then why bother doing it at all? You're not proving anything by doing it half-assed.

> Your greenness shows in your posts, my boy. When you've bagged your first elephant, you come back and lecture me about sportsmanship.

I'll never bag an elephant, because I have no good reason to kill an elephant, and that's not sportsmanship. It's needless killing of a big animal, and I'm man enough to realize that killing it doesn't prove anything but my own short-sightedness. There are plenty of ways to "thread the needle" that don't involve being a sniper. Maybe you should do what some of your other contemporaries did for sport, and explore somewhere or discover something. You'd be contributing a lot more than dead elephant carcasses and you could still get your shot of testosterone.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Such gibbering... (none / 2) (#271)
by rmg on Fri May 07, 2004 at 06:13:31 PM EST

As a matter of fact, son, I haven't had to dodge a tiger's bullets, but a three year tour of duty in Vietnam taught me to dodge bullets from the Viet Kong.

Now I know a thing or two about RPGs and you couldn't kill an elephant with anything but a direct hit with one. It takes a sick mind to even think of using such a weapon on any large game. RPGs are vicious, flesh shredders. They do not kill. They maim. A hunter respects his prey and he never inflicts a lingering death. In a time of war, men do desperate things. Vicious things -- and that is what an RPG is. You've never seen a man who's been hit by an RPG. It's a horrible thing. It is something a man only uses when his life is in danger, when he has to kill or be killed.

Now if you want to talk about short ranged, hand to hand weapons, I can tell you about my service on a Japanese whaling ship and I can tell you about my arctic seal fur expeditions, but somehow, I think you're just determined to push this mind over matter, pacifist hippy worldview. Well, let me just tell you what you should have learned your freshman year in college -- what you should have learned from Homer. The mind and the body are not seperate as the theologians would have you believe. A fit body is the key to a good disposition and a strong spirit. Conversely, a love for sport is the sign of sharp intellect. Finally, the warrior's spirit and the desire to test one's valor is timeless -- it did not die because a bunch of limp wrist college kids said so back in 1969.

So let me ask you this last thing, boy: Have you ever served in an infantry unit? Have you ever served in a forward area? Have you ever put your life in another man's hands and asked him to do the same?

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Too Bad (none / 0) (#293)
by virg on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:00:13 PM EST

> As a matter of fact, son, I haven't had to dodge a tiger's bullets, but a three year tour of duty in Vietnam taught me to dodge bullets from the Viet Kong.

...and...

> So let me ask you this last thing, boy: Have you ever served in an infantry unit? Have you ever served in a forward area? Have you ever put your life in another man's hands and asked him to do the same?

Strange that you ask, considering how neither of these things applies to our discussion, but more below.

> Now I know a thing or two about RPGs and you couldn't kill an elephant with anything but a direct hit with one. It takes a sick mind to even think of using such a weapon on any large game. RPGs are vicious, flesh shredders. They do not kill. They maim. A hunter respects his prey and he never inflicts a lingering death. In a time of war, men do desperate things. Vicious things -- and that is what an RPG is. You've never seen a man who's been hit by an RPG. It's a horrible thing. It is something a man only uses when his life is in danger, when he has to kill or be killed.

Didn't you just comment about how skillful you were in being able to kill an elephant in one shot with a gun? Now you say it's difficult do it with an RPG? Have trouble with your aim now?

> Now if you want to talk about short ranged, hand to hand weapons, I can tell you about my service on a Japanese whaling ship and I can tell you about my arctic seal fur expeditions, but somehow, I think you're just determined to push this mind over matter, pacifist hippy worldview.

You should have quit while you were ahead, and perhaps it would not be so obvious that you're just riling me. You don't hunt whales with hand weapons (that would be a challenge worthy of a hunter, for sure!) and hunting seals simply entails finding them. "The hunt" isn't much of a challange after that, since you can just walk up to it and whollop it.

The real give-away was your extremeism. Ivory expeditions, whaling ships and seal hunting? Toss in a witch-burning and some strip-mining stories and you've got the whole gamut. Please. I thought I was fencing with a master troll. This was too easy.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
what? (none / 2) (#296)
by rmg on Mon May 10, 2004 at 09:03:32 PM EST

I thought I was fencing with a master troll.

then why did you respond in the first place? are you braindead?

the whole point of this exercise was to see how far i could go with this. as it happens, i could go pretty far.

you should just be honored to have bitten (hard) on the best troll this site has seen in months. i mean, every damned thing about this whole gig was as hilarious as it was repugnant. truly a triumph!

what makes a master is style. remember that!

----

i ♥ legitimate users.

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Incorrect (none / 0) (#299)
by virg on Tue May 11, 2004 at 09:51:25 AM EST

> then why did you respond in the first place? are you braindead?

I replied for the same reason you did. Righteous indignation is fun when applied with a painter's trowel.

> the whole point of this exercise was to see how far i could go with this. as it happens, i could go pretty far.

You did go far. Too far, in fact, which was your undoing. That's my disappointment.

> what makes a master is style. remember that!

Mastery requires both style and success. Close, but no (Cuban, rolled by a child factory worker of course) cigar yet.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
ugh... (none / 0) (#300)
by rmg on Tue May 11, 2004 at 01:11:08 PM EST

you don't get trolling at all. i was not undone. i produced an hilarious thread for all to view. that is success.

----

i ♥ legitimate users.

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Ok (none / 1) (#177)
by TranquilRage on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:14:50 AM EST

Because people like me would pay to see you go up against a pissed off Mastadon with nothing but a spear. Then you, the last remaining Neanderthal can become extinct as well.
I am a verb -------------- Matt
[ Parent ]
Not likely... (none / 2) (#216)
by skyknight on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:58:04 PM EST

Up next after Iraq is Mars. The good old US of A is going to be rather busy for a little while.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
mettle not metal, unless you're a metallurgist NT (none / 1) (#247)
by Greenarchist on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:28:30 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Another dumbassed nerd. (none / 1) (#248)
by rmg on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:05:45 AM EST

It's pathetic enough to correct someone on something like this in the first place, but even with your smug bullshit, you're still wrong. It was correct as written.

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

This nutjob sounds like someone from the Simpsons (none / 2) (#289)
by voodoo1man on Sun May 09, 2004 at 02:32:24 PM EST

"Assault weapons have gotten a lot of bad press lately, but they're manufactured for a reason: to take out today's modern super animals, such as the flying squirrel, and the electric eel."
"Government regulation and the special interest groups in Washington have turned poachers into criminals."
Poacher. Definition: One who hunts or fishes illegally on the property of another.
"In a time when men are finding fewer outlets for their primal urges, this is just what we need. Finally, man can once again face his ancient nemeses, like Mastadon and the Neanderthal, in mortal kombat."
If history and anthropology teaches us anything, it's that man's nemesis has always been man. There are plenty of outlets for your "primal urges," most of which don't involve violence. But if you really need to get off on hurting something, I suggest man, and not only for the above reason. Look how many people are out there, and what kind of wonderful things they are doing. Compare to the number of animals and exotic "game." By unloading your urges on man instead of the poor defenseless critters, you'll help solve both problems. And don't even start blabbering about "honor," "challenge," etc., because gutting tied down kangaroos with a kitchen knife is nothing compared to fighting off a 200-pound drunk waving a broken beer bottle with your bare hands. That's "mortal kombat" for you. If you happen to cause a mortality, you'll go to jail (where I feel you belong anyway) to work for pennies a day manufacturing equipment for the boys in Iraq to fight their "mortal kombat." If you're on the other side of the fence, you're dead. See, you'll be helping all around!

Now, before you go off calling me a liberal, let me state that I firmly support my right to bear assault and high-power weapons, mostly so I can defend myself against people like you.

To make a serious point: there was a big "game farming" boom in Canada a few years ago, that resulted in a total bust for everyone involved, especially now that brain wasting disease is starting to appear in Canada. I don't think that game farming re-introduced exctinct animals will be any more successful.

[ Parent ]

I wonder. (2.42 / 7) (#114)
by /dev/trash on Tue May 04, 2004 at 08:27:41 PM EST

Seriously.  How many bacteria have wiped out other bacteria.  It's what nature is all about.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
Steller's sea cow. (2.28 / 7) (#119)
by handslikesnakes on Wed May 05, 2004 at 12:53:31 AM EST

Extincted 30 years after they were discovered.

Apparently they were quite delicious. Or just easy to catch.



Sorry CTS, I need to read before I post (nt) (none / 0) (#120)
by handslikesnakes on Wed May 05, 2004 at 12:59:02 AM EST



[ Parent ]
you need to apologize for nothing (none / 1) (#140)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:04:49 AM EST

those steller sea cows need the free public relations we provide! ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Not species - Ecosystems. (2.54 / 11) (#124)
by Wulfius on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:11:32 AM EST

I will start with a correction in your article;
" pain and range" should be "pain and rage". You played too much D&D in your childhood. Your slip is showing. Kekekeke.
Oh BTW. I consider you attribution of the extintion of Aurochs to Poles to be offensive.
You should use the phrase 'Central-European' ;)

But my principal point for making the comment.

The notion that individual species are important is simply false.
We have to stop looking at the planet as if it was a zoo. Start looking at it as if it was a machine.
A very, very sophisticated machine.

A death of one species, opens up a niche.
That niche can be taken by another less successful species or what is more likely cause a gap.
That gap will have wide ranging repercusions.

Parasites living on the creature may die off.
Plants that have evolved to regenerate by going through the digestive system of the species may die off.
Predators may die off.

Each act of imbalance may and usually does cause an entire house of cards to fall.
Unfortunately, we the humans are so st00pid that we do not understand the consequences of our actions.

Who cares about parasites, plants or other creatures.
Hell, dont listen to God who has given us stewardship over our planet. "Adam, here are the keys to the pad. Dont wreck the place ok?"

The next cure for cancer or longevity drug could come from the parasite living in the gut of an Auroch. Sadly, we will never know.

Raping the planet in the name of economy is like burning the library of Alexandria to warm up your hands.

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

Re: Not species - Ecosystems. (none / 0) (#245)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:51:52 PM EST

"Oh BTW. I consider you attribution of the extintion of Aurochs to Poles to be offensive. You should use the phrase 'Central-European' ;)"
Actually it lived longest in poland, and an attempt was actually made to conserve it, but the skill of preservation was shallow back then. In many other places in europe and asia the aurochs were killed of much earlier. On your main point; so should we try and recreate entire ecosystems if we have oppertunity? Perhaps on a future terraformed mars with nothing to be displaced?

[ Parent ]
Interesting. Auroch is back. (3.00 / 9) (#128)
by Wulfius on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:22:52 AM EST

Since Aurochs are the stem stock of the entire geneological tree of european cows, these guys have tried to 'back breed' them.

http://users.aristotle.net/~swarmack/aurochs.html

I guess its one way to get a species 'back'.

What next? Can we get Mamooths this way?
Maybe with some subtle genetic engineering.

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

Very interesting. (none / 2) (#187)
by Wateshay on Wed May 05, 2004 at 12:36:27 PM EST

Almost as interesting as the account of trying to back breed the Aurochs was the account of the last days of the original Aurochs. In the article, Bora depicts the extinction of the Aurochs at the hands of a hunter, too stupid or heartless to care what he does. According to the article you linked, though (I've done no corroborating research...not even reading the source linked by the article) the Aurochs in fact spent its last days as a protected species, unable to be saved by caring conservationists who unfortuantely lacked the scientific tools to protect an inviably small number of animals from eventual extinction.


"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
A good argument against Gun Control. (2.42 / 14) (#129)
by syntactical on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:25:30 AM EST

Prehistoric monsters like the mastadon and elephant bird roaming free practically necessitate powerful fire arms in the home. It's true that an assault rifle is no use for typical sport hunters, but for people trying to defend their families from flesh eating beasts like the Haast Eagle, an AK47 could be the difference between life and death.

From an evolutionary perspective, we as a species have an imperative not to allow new predators we reintroduce to our ecosystem to threaten us. In the past we used technology to suppress the threat these creatures posed. To now tie our own hands and swear off those technologies would be suicide.

Centuries as the dominant species on Earth have left humans complacent in their position at the top of the food chain. If this article is to be believed, our position in the food chain could drop dramatically overnight. In such an uncertain atmosphere, hand wringing about accidental fatalities simply cannot prevail.

Even today certain people present a clear and present danger to our families and we are defenseless. Imagine, if you will, introducing a new sort of "human," the Neanderthal, with even lesser mental capabilities and more innate, animal hostility. There's just no telling what might happen.

Overnight, people. The whole situation could change overnight.

meow.

Hey! (none / 0) (#138)
by walwyn on Wed May 05, 2004 at 04:38:48 AM EST

Prehistoric monsters like the mastadon and elephant bird roaming free practically necessitate powerful fire arms in the home.

Elmer the same is true when facing Wascally Wabbits.

----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]

Spell Checker (2.00 / 4) (#144)
by Peahippo on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:12:33 AM EST

Imagine, if you will, introducing a new sort of "human," the >>Neanderthal<<, with even lesser mental capabilities and more innate, animal hostility.

You misspelled that word. It's correctly spelled "Republican".

Seriously (mostly), assault or battle rifles are well needed in modern times to defend against just the sort of Human you propose is the problem. Disarmament (a pack of Liberals and their laws) is not the answer. Increased responsibility is the answer.


[ Parent ]
Did I just stumble onto FreeRepublic? (none / 3) (#184)
by razumiking on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:45:00 AM EST

Seriously (mostly), assault or battle rifles are well needed in modern times to defend against just the sort of Human you propose is the problem.

I wasn't going to comment on this thread (for reasons I'll leave you to guess), but this was just too much. He's talking about black people.

I can't believe any of you are agreeing with this nutjob!

[ Parent ]

If he was talkin' 'bout Black folk ... (none / 0) (#249)
by Peahippo on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:46:35 AM EST

... then he must have been thinking about Toledo, Ohio, the land of disarmament. There were plenty of Blacks arriving in politics around here, even before the Black Mayor was elected. So ... perhaps in principle I do agree with him. I'm glad that I am armed with a battle rifle (CETME .308) to resist the attacks of this animal class ... the DISARMAMENT LIBERAL, often found by following the sound of their logic:

"No one should have guns except the police ... and the security guards following my children!"

At any rate ... Black, Hispanic, White ... the color of the man coming to take my weapons is irrelevant.

Thank you for your (short span of) attention.


[ Parent ]
You do realize (none / 0) (#267)
by Cro Magnon on Fri May 07, 2004 at 02:01:39 PM EST

that if the Big Bad Government (tm) tries to take your guns, armed resistance won't stop them. You might make the 6PM news as a "right wing" [0] whacko gunned down by the heroic police department.

[0] Yes, I know there's nothing right wing about you, except your firearms stance, but I bet that's how it would be reported.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]

Anti-Gun Myth #24: "But You Can't Win!" (none / 0) (#281)
by Peahippo on Sat May 08, 2004 at 10:41:56 AM EST

Oh, no! I'd better give up now! My insides gel with fear!

Eat a dick, surrender monkey. You have an obvious lack of understanding about the power of the sniper. By your assertion, the Germans would have made short work of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Freedom is never given, it is taken. Stop worshipping your beloved establishment power and understand the real ineffectiveness of armies against resisting members of the populace. A gun confiscation initiative will create millions of potential armed rebels and all it will take is thousands to produce an Iraq-level resistance event.

P.S. I mean, you DO realize America is nowhere near conquering and pacifying Afghanistan and Iraq, don't you? You DO realize that this is true no matter how many times the TV squawks "mission accomplished", right? Advice: Shut the fucking TV off and read some books for a change.


[ Parent ]
'fraid not (2.00 / 4) (#156)
by theElectron on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:43:29 AM EST

So-called "assault weapons" such as the AR-15, AK-47, etc. are particularly ill-suited for big game. .223, 7.62x39, and even .308 are decent anti-personnel rounds, but no African game hunter in his right mind would shoot an elephant with them. Keep in mind the "assault weapon" definition comes not just from some arbitrary notion of deadliness (although that's what the partisan media would have you believe of course). The "assault weapon" moniker refers to a number of features, some of which include a light, high-capacity rifle -- both of which preclude the use of heavy, hard-hitting game cartridges. To defend yourself from mammoths and elephant birds you'd want a bolt-action African game rifle or a .50 BMG, NOT an "assault weapon."

"Assault weapons" as defined by U.S. law are particularly well-suited for North American hunting. AR-10s, AR-15s and other "assault" rifles can be made every bit as accurate as bolt-action hunting rifles, and their light weight and superior ergonomics make them ideally suited to the task. The notion that assault weapons have no use in hunting is another lie spread by the partisan media (but then where does the Second Amendment mention hunting anyway?)

--
Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]

As someone who's been on safari, (none / 2) (#181)
by rmg on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:28:34 AM EST

I can tell you that if you're up against a creature with any real speed, you would much prefer a lighter firearm with a higher rate of fire and larger magazine. For example, once on safari in India, I ran afoul of a hungry tiger. Came right for me. It was fast and nimble. I didn't have a chance with my elephant gun (it was an ivory expedition), so I brought it down with five shots from my sidearm (a Glock 18C).

I think that's what this guy is getting at. The Haast Eagle can probably reach speeds well in excess of a running tiger. If that thing is coming for your daughter, you can't afford to miss.

If anything, this will be a market force. Gun manufacturers will recognize the demand for more powerful weapons and ordinance designed for bringing down large, fast moving animals.

----

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Or better yet, zombies? (nt) (none / 0) (#227)
by ensignyu on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:02:42 PM EST

 

[ Parent ]
humanity (2.27 / 11) (#135)
by ljj on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:46:32 AM EST

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps our destructive force is also a force of nature. I mean, are we that arrogant to think that we are intelligently destroying the earth. Surely it's in our nature. So nature is at fault here for being semi-suicidal.

--
ljj

Nature didn't forsee... (2.00 / 5) (#143)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:53:15 AM EST

...the problems that would occur when we evolved opposable thumbs.

As such, we stopped being a force of nature and became a force of technology and humanity. There is nothing natuaral in the extinction of many of these creatures. Just like nature doesn't want ants killing bears, we were never really meant to be spearing/stoning mammoths to death.


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
And you know this how? [n/t] (3.00 / 2) (#158)
by partykidd on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:45:06 AM EST


"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle


[ Parent ]

Easy (none / 1) (#159)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:00:19 AM EST

Nature is a biologically driven process. It creates adaptions with regard to environmental challenges in order to proliferate itself. In our case, we got to a stage where we could make/understand/use tools. And when that happened, we were no longer really being adapated to suit natures environment. We were adapting to suit our own, human made environment. Evolution didn't stop, not by a long shot, but we were creating the conditions for which adaptations would not "naturally" occur. We stopped adapting to the environment, rather adapting the environment to ourselves whenever we could.

I can think of no other creature on this planet that can do this sort of thing on the scale that humans can.

In retrospect, the use of the word "forsee" is incorrect. Nature is a system, not a conscious thought driven entity.


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
Really good point. (none / 0) (#161)
by partykidd on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:26:44 AM EST

And even moreso today with such things as genetic engineering.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle


[ Parent ]

Indeed (none / 0) (#179)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:23:39 AM EST

Which is why me must be exceptionally careful with GE. It is the ultimate natural tool in a sense - evolution (at least, our evolution) under direct control.

Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
Bull-shit (none / 1) (#166)
by Magnetic North on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:40:58 AM EST

Even the most high-tech genetics laboratory in the world is a product of nature. The skyscrapers on Manhattan is as much a product of nature as an antpile.

Artificial and arbitrary distinctions between what's natural and what's not does nothing but cloud the facts. Are you one of those who religously believe in the hard lines drawn by concepts such as "species"?

We are part of nature. Everything is a part of nature. Take it from there.



--
<33333
[ Parent ]
Thats great... (none / 1) (#173)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:06:48 AM EST

...but what, exactly, does it have to do with what I said? I fail to see which part of my argument you are trying to invalidate, or which part you call bullshit.

As much as I personally dislike silly distinctions, some distinctions are neccessary, unless we want to go around describing things by their elementary particles alone.

I think you should have put this as a separate comment or in a diary entry. It would make for an interesting discussion (unless you were trolling...).


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
Man and nature (none / 1) (#180)
by Magnetic North on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:26:06 AM EST

As such, we stopped being a force of nature and became a force of technology and humanity. There is nothing natuaral in the extinction of many of these creatures.

This is the idea I don't like, maybe I should have replied directly to it.

A large part of the "green" movement are basing their arguments upon this worldview. They are also the people who keep healthfood shops running by buying into the whole "it's natural so it must be better" argument.

I'm all for conservation if there are rational arguments for it. But arguments from the non-naturalness of man (or the supremacy of man as granted by God and other fairytales) are simply non sequiturs.



--
<33333
[ Parent ]
Ah, I see... (none / 2) (#186)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:56:54 AM EST

Hmm, if Kuro5hin had an edit button.

Perhaps if I rephrased it to be that humanity was diminshed as a force of nature, instead becoming more a force for technology and humanity. Of course, it is ridiculouse (IMO) to say that humanity is entirely divorced from nature. Heck, every time I gawk at a pair of boobs swaying past me I'm fullfilling a natural urge.

And, with regards many of the creatures that have been made extinct, their death's were not by any "natural causes". Some dodo's were shot. Mammoths were speared to death, or lured into punji traps. I'm not trying to come across as uber-green here, but their extinction was by no means a frequently occuring ailement of their species (Mammoths didn't just lunge at sharpened sticks, for example). Perhaps it is just a figure of speech, but I wouldn't classify their deaths as naturally occuring. Its a question of subtle semantics.


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
The Nature of Nature (none / 1) (#202)
by virg on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:16:16 PM EST

> And, with regards many of the creatures that have been made extinct, their death's were not by any "natural causes". Some dodo's were shot. Mammoths were speared to death, or lured into punji traps. I'm not trying to come across as uber-green here, but their extinction was by no means a frequently occuring ailement of their species (Mammoths didn't just lunge at sharpened sticks, for example). Perhaps it is just a figure of speech, but I wouldn't classify their deaths as naturally occuring. Its a question of subtle semantics.

Perhaps subtle, but it's not entirely accurate. See, when early man went out with spears to kill mammoths, they didn't do it toward the end of driving mammoths to extinction. They did it because mammoth meat kept them fed, and mammoth hides kept them warm and dry. Your analysis of extinction doesn't seem to include environment except where it's "natural" by your odd definition of such. The frequently occurring ailment that drove the mammoth off the planet was living in close proximity to a predator that they couldn't outwit or avoid. The same forces drove tree frogs to extinction on Pacific islands when snakes found their way to the islands, and birds who didn't nest far enough away from mice and raccoons who ate their eggs. Perhaps man used tools to bring down mammoths, but that doesn't make them any less "natural" in that case than a virus that can override a mammoth's immune system would.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
RE: Easy (none / 1) (#244)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:41:05 PM EST

I can think of no other creature on this planet that can do this sort of thing on the scale that humans can.
You have a good point, but I think that some type of plants could qualify to your scale, like some trees, or algea which is so abundant that it actually changes the composition of our atmosphere, or plankton which defines the food chain of the ocean... but although these species change the environment so much, they did it with the help of evolution, requiring themselves to change and adapt as they changed thier environment, while we mostly do not change genetically. Actually I'd like some confirmation as to whether the average human today is as similar to a 10k old average human as we think.

[ Parent ]
Dude you are soooo right (none / 1) (#160)
by iheartzelda on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:08:26 AM EST

I've always said that when dolphins evolve opposable thumbs we, as humans, are screwed.

[ Parent ]
Nature Doesn't Forsee Anything (none / 2) (#190)
by Valdrax on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:15:11 PM EST

Information... err... Nature wants to be Anthropomorphised!

Aside from the fact that "nature" doesn't "forsee" anything, I'll bet that it didn't "forsee" the problems that could occur when it let primitive algae form chloroplasts and wipe out almost all other life on earth by oxygen poisoning.

Plus, if nature didn't want to create ants that could kill bears, why do army ant swarms exist (which would certainly kill bears if they could coexist in each other's natural climate)?  If we weren't meant to be spearing/stoning mammoths to death, then why are we so well adapted for throwing things?  Why can wolverines back down bears?  Just because something's bigger means that it's meant to be superior.  Otherwise, we would've seen an evolutionary trend towards dinosaur-sized animals again, and the giant sloth and saber-toothed tiger would rule the Earth.

Never forget -- intelligence and cunning are evolved traits as well.

The whole natural/artificial divide is spurious when you look at things on a geological timescale.  While we are certainly causing problems, we've killed off less species than nature "herself" has in asteroid impacts, ice ages, major atmospheric changes, etc.  We do have the intelligence to check our own behavior, but that doesn't mean that as a species we aren't inherently designed (like all species) to expand as much as possible at the expense of any competition and food resources in our path.  That's what all species try to do, even at their own expense in situations were predation and other checks and balances can't keep them from stripping their territory bare of food.

[ Parent ]

I corrected what I said... (none / 0) (#193)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:32:22 PM EST

...in one of the posts below me. "Forsee" really was a terrible choice.

The examples I gave were not meant to be taken literally. More of a thought excersize. Your other points are bang on the money though.


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
What about Neanderthals? (none / 0) (#241)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:20:41 PM EST

They had apposable thumbs, and used tools. It took our peculiar nature to actually spread so far, so fast and so thoroughly. And now in the twilight years of nature we sit here being armchair gods, speculating uselessly.

[ Parent ]
Evolution (none / 2) (#165)
by Fon2d2 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:32:23 AM EST

See the parallel comments by Del Monte Cyber Monkey. There is one critical evolution in the species of homo sapiens that does not exist in any other species. That is the ability to adapt the environment to ourselves, rather than adapt ourselves to our environment. You can see only the most cursory examples of this in some of the other species: higher primates, etc. It's so crucial to human survival the need to use tools is basically evolved into us. Look at us: no sharp claws, no sharp teeth, scrawny, not much muscle, slow, small/weak jaw, etc. We'd never've evolved this way without the use of tools/fire somewhere earlier along the evolutionary chain. Tools more than compensate for all this. Being able to adapt your environment to you is infinitely better than being at the mercy of your environment. It's a sea change in the evolutionary process. A paradigm shift. Or if you're into Chaos Theory, a bifurcation point. Humanity does not fit into the concept of nature as we know it, into the world of balanced ecosystems and mutual dependence. True, we are not completely free of that dependence, but the distinction is still pretty clear.

[ Parent ]
Bah (none / 1) (#172)
by NoBeardPete on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:06:04 AM EST

We're certainly better at changing our enviornment to suit ourselves than most creatures, but we are by no means the only species. Consider the beaver and his damn. Neither are we the only creatures to use tools. Chimps will carefully select and prepare twigs for "fishing" for termites. Chimps will also carefully select rocks for use in cracking nuts, which is actually a very difficult process, and takes a _lot_ of practice to get right.

If humanity does not fit into the concept of nature as you know it, into the world of balanced ecosystems and mutual dependence, I suggest you reevaluate your concept of nature. I suspect you'll find that your concept of nature is a poor fit to most species and ecosystems, not just to humanity.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

This is true... (none / 1) (#178)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:17:50 AM EST

...but humans took it to the next level.

I've yet to see a beaver examining the fundamental components of molecules with an X-Ray spectrometer, or creating a warm den with nuclear fission.

Humans are, as mentioned already, a paradigm shift from the way nature usually (statistically) operates. Beavers are merely making use of their environment for their benefit. Humans create their environment. A beaver cannot create a river with which to build a damm over. Humans can. Thats one of the distinctions.


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
Bah to you (none / 1) (#182)
by Fon2d2 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:33:15 AM EST

Those are specific instances. Yes, the beaver builds dams, but what does he do besides that? And does the chimp ever go beyond fishing for termites or cracking nuts? At some level, you could say that all animals modify their environment. A chimp would probably never figure out how to kill an aurochs but humans can, and did. And what do humans have over chimps, physically? Not much. That's the distinction. Whatever it is that humans want to do, we've got a fair chance of figuring it out. We can develop the tools and the skills to accomplish new tasks and live in new environments. Chimps aren't even close to this. So they use rocks and twigs to get at their food? Well hooray for them. The key is to be able to develop new skills and new tools for new situations. Chimps and beavers do not do this. They are in a rut and their skills are bounded. And the fact that their skills are bounded puts them in the old system of balanced ecosystems and mutual dependece. You see, as long as the skills are not adaptable, it doesn't matter whether they use twigs or a proboscis to eat termites. They are still stuck to their environment, and if they lost that environment, they would die.

[ Parent ]
I was responding to (none / 0) (#192)
by NoBeardPete on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:20:59 PM EST

You claimed "There is one critical evolution in the species of homo sapiens that does not exist in any other species. That is the ability to adapt the environment to ourselves". I think this is false. Now, I'm not saying that we aren't better than other species at adapting the enviornment to ourselves. Obviously we are. I'm not claiming that we are better tool users than other species. Obviously we are. We're better, but not really fundamentally different.

As far as your claim that we've reshaped the way nature works, I disagree. We're a very dominant species at the moment, with the ability to reshape the globe. This has happened plenty of times in the past. The advent of oxygen producing bacteria probably had a bigger effect on Earth than we ever will. The first multicellular life probably had a bigger competitive advantage over their enviornment than we do. The evolution of good immune systems was a bigger boon to the creatures that have them than our brains are to us. We've developed powerful tools to do stuff with, and it's dramatically shifted the balance of power. This happens all the time, and it's probably not quite as dramatic as you think.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

A new world order. (none / 0) (#196)
by Fon2d2 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:00:11 PM EST

The development of oxygen producing bacteria was a new world order. The development of multicellular life was a new world order. The evolution of good immune systems was a new world order. And the development of human intelligence was a new world order. I would call all of these things bifurcation points. The way we use our intelligence to adapt our environments really is not witnessed in any other species.

[ Parent ]
It's not quite as big though (none / 0) (#201)
by NoBeardPete on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:11:35 PM EST

In terms of new world orders, I think human intelligence pales in comparison to any of these other examples, though.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Thats a matter of opinion though (nt) (none / 0) (#204)
by Del Monte Cyber Monkey on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:24:03 PM EST


Ah, Del Monte!


[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#211)
by Fon2d2 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:18:38 PM EST

It may be that we just haven't had enough time to witness it all the way through yet. These other events you mentioned certainly took a very long time to change things. Human existance is an eye blink compared to the history of the earth. Our actions have the potential to off-balance every other eco-system on this planet. We have the power to radically change entire ecosystems, land masses, and climates. What we've done already is really quite extensive. There are plenty of extinct species and dead ecosystems already. The question is where this all ends up. It seems to me like the net result of human evolution is still playing out, so it might be premature to state whether or not we're a major break from the old. But I still see human intelligence as a bifurcation point, whether it ultimately fails in the long run or not.

[ Parent ]
It's all in our hands. (none / 0) (#237)
by cburke on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:05:35 PM EST

We have one significant physical advtantage over chimpanzees:  our hands.  We have extraordinarily dexterous fingers.  I don't have any scientific backing for this theory, but I suspect that the development of our hands may have been as important a development in our evolution as our large brains were.  Perhaps one encouraged the other -- the physical capacity to craft and use better, finer tools made it advantageous to have the mental capacity to take advantage, and vice versa.

Nevertheless, it is clear that you are correct:  Our ability to shape our environment is a major development in the history of life on earth.  Adaptability has turned out to be the killer feature of survival -- bacteria adapt through rapid evolution, rats and cockroaches through being generalists.  Humans change their environment into one they can survive in.  Only humans could adapt to the Antarctic, the Sahara, and outer space in a single generation.

[ Parent ]

More than just our hands... (none / 0) (#261)
by Fon2d2 on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:50:49 PM EST

There was an article in either Discover or Scientific American once. It listed I think five traits that differentiated humans from the rest of the pack. Let's see if I can get them all.

1. Hands - Extremely dextrous. Key to being able to use tools to manipulate our environment.

2. Walking upright - No other animal walks fully erect. It's way more energy efficient and the extra energy goes straight to our brains.

3. Our brains - No other animal, except perhaps dolphins, has the capacity for intelligence that humans do. Intelligence is key to understanding what to do to manipulate our environment.

4. Language - Our brains are specially adapted to process spoken language. This is very critical for being able to pass down knowledge from generation to generation. Perhaps this is why chimps can't get past twigs and rocks... nobody is passing down new discoveries. Or maybe it's their hands. Or they're just too dumb. Who knows.

5. Small jaw - Humans really do have small jaws and the reason we do is because we can use our tools and our fire to make out meat more chewable. That kind of implies tools became part of our evolutionary process. Maybe it's what also allowed us to form words. But a critical point here is that the smaller jaw muscles finally allowed the space for a larger brain.

4 and 5 I'm not totally sure about. I think they were listed in the article but I'm not sure. But they all really do go together. All 5 points were critical in developing a primate species with real intelligence.

So what's the next step? I think the next step will be instead of adapting just our environment, to also adapt ourselves directly through genetic manipulation. It's already starting to begin, although very subtly.

[ Parent ]

True. (none / 1) (#243)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:29:53 PM EST

We only have one planet to look at here, in the glactic, or universal scheme of things we may be a common and dull occurance. We may be an actual benefit to the cause of life, if we attain interstellar travel and genetic mastery we could be expertly crafted agents spreading the seed of life into new vistas.

[ Parent ]
Humans the nerds of the animal kingdom? (none / 1) (#242)
by firefox on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:26:00 PM EST

We are the weak outcasts dealt a bad hand by nature, but we are much more intelligent than everyone else. So like is common for many nerds, we lash out mercilessly at our past tormentors, and use every advantage we have to it's fullest to attain a higher position.

[ Parent ]
nature at fault? (none / 0) (#220)
by tgibbs on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:28:06 PM EST

So nature is at fault here for being semi-suicidal.

That is like saying that a rock is "at fault" for being hard. It really only makes sense to talk about "fault" with respect to beings capable of choice. You can blame God (if you believe in him), but you can't blame "nature." Evolution may have taken the place of God as the proximal explanation for the origin of species, but that does not mean that evolution takes the place of God as moral authority. Evolution may have created us, and we like being us and find that good, but that does not mean that evolution has our best interests at heart, or that we can look to evolution for guidance as to what we should do.

Back to recreating species: It seems to me that it would be a wonderful thing if we ever could recover enough of their DNA to recreate them as they were. There is much that we could learn about their behavior and ecology. There might even be some genes that would be useful today for other purposes. But rebreeding them from surviving related species or patching gaps in their DNA with DNA from related species (a la Jurassic Park) is not at all the same thing. We'd never really know for sure how close we came, or if the behavior we observe is really the behavior of the original species.

[ Parent ]

We Can't Give Re-birth To The Same Animals (2.45 / 11) (#142)
by freestylefiend on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:26:56 AM EST

does mankind have a moral responsibility to provide the re-birth of species that our ancestors made extinct?

No. We only have rights as individuals. If these species were brought back, then they would consist of different individuals. How would it benefit those animals that we prevented from reproducing when we drove their species to extinction? Those animals will never be resurrected.

If we have a duty to create members of extinct species for their benefit (rather than for the benefit of their species), then would we also have that duty for non-extinct species?

I believe that it is a similar fallacy that leads to the talk of the freedom of nations and races rather than the freedom of their people.

Speculative reenactment (2.97 / 36) (#155)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:18:57 AM EST

                  Aieee! Giant bull!
           /   \    \               Aurochs.
          /|___|\   No, it's true!    \   
  _---__--\_\oo /     \                \   
 /|          \oo        O                O
7 |\ |  __\  /         <|V              <|>
  //\|8- //\ |          \                | 
  \\ \\  \\ \\         //                |\ 


Here's an ethical question for you... (none / 3) (#168)
by ajdecon on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:54:05 AM EST

Would it be right to re-introduce these species into environments which they haven't inhabited in hundreds or thousands of years? How would it affect existing balances between species now in existence? And we have an obligation to consider our own interests here: I personally think re-introducing the European Lion to Europe could be rather unpopular.

You mention creating parks and so on, but I really doubt it'd be politically feasible to recreate these animals and keep them all in zoos: the same environmentally-minded people who were in favor of bringing them back for moral reasons, would probably find it immoral to confine them for all their days in "artificial" environments. They'd insist on putting them back in the wild--and we don't know enough about ecology to keep from damaging current environments, let alone bring back old ones.


--
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
I'm in favor (none / 1) (#214)
by Cro Magnon on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:45:20 PM EST

of reintroducing the European lion. Of course, I'm an American so that makes a difference. :)
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 1) (#252)
by grkhetan on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:06:06 AM EST

Evolution has no end it tries to obtain.

It just happens....

There is no point bringing in species that are not alive today. Species evolve and get extinct due to the survival pressure existing mutually between then existing species. There is no right and wrong. Millions of species have come and gone. And they went either because they were not suitable for the environment or they were not as good as other species.

For example, cockroaches which have been existing for a very very long time, might themselves have been responsible for extinction of many species.

So, in sum, species come and go. Humans have come, and will go at one time. Species came, and went.

This is evolution, and will continue to happen with no purpose or noble direction.

Practically, getting those species will disrupt the current ecosystem, and might have very disastrous long term consequences.

The best species that can survive the current conditions already exist, (After long period of selection). Getting older ones will only harm everybody.

-- Ask "Why?" to everything...
[ Parent ]

Depressing (2.50 / 8) (#170)
by Magnetic North on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:00:36 AM EST

Articles like this makes you wonder what they teach kids in schools these days.

Repeat after me: Evolution has no goal. There is no such thing as better or worse.



--
<33333
but!!! (none / 0) (#191)
by modmans2ndcoming on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:19:34 PM EST

there is better or worse from an outside perspective.

it was better for Humans that the Dinosaurs became extinct because one of their kind near the end (I forget which) had an uncanny similarity in brain capacity, size and abilities that the australopithecine had. the Smithsonian had some paleontologists study it along with evolutionary biologists and the conclusion is that since this species preyed on mammals, was as smart as the proto-homonids, and was pretty successful, if the dinosaurs had not gone extinct, it is very likely that this creature would have evolved a large brain and perhaps an offshoot of it would have evolved consciousness similar to humans with the ability to think creatively and to be self reflecting.

so, it was better for humans and mammals as a whole, but it is nothing evolution cared about.

[ Parent ]

Isaac Asimov (none / 2) (#185)
by edmo on Wed May 05, 2004 at 11:46:30 AM EST

I recently read a short story by Isaac Asimov, "2430 A.D.". This story deals with exactly the concept presented in this article; anyone pushing for the 'its evolution that only humans remain' idea should deferentially read it, it just may change your mind...

Hmmm (none / 3) (#195)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed May 05, 2004 at 01:54:16 PM EST

If our ancestors hunted them to death, they must be right tasty.  As such I support the cloning of extinct superfauna.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
Species come, species go (2.80 / 5) (#198)
by Julian Morrison on Wed May 05, 2004 at 02:18:18 PM EST

Human predation or out-competition is just another selective pressure, so far as evolution's concerned. Pragmatically, it tends to favor small generalist inedible omnivore species, and to severely disfavor tasty clumsy giants, or dangerous carnivores. There's nothing particularly special about this. We're just another natural species, we do our thing, other species profit or suffer thereby. There's no moral responsibility attached.

There are good reasons to bring back extinct creatures. Aesthetics: they were pretty and they complemented their setting. Pleasure: if they were huntable then they'll be huntable now. Curiosity: extinction is a loss of information, reviving the creatures would be interesting.


all hail cannibalism! (none / 0) (#208)
by zenofchai on Wed May 05, 2004 at 04:18:27 PM EST

Human predation or out-competition is just another selective pressure, so far as evolution's concerned. Pragmatically, it tends to favor small generalist inedible omnivore species, and to severely disfavor tasty clumsy giants, or dangerous carnivores.

Well, humans can be both (a) tasty clumsy giants and (b) dangerous carnivores.

Hm... maybe there's a unified solution to world hunger and overpopulation which nobody is willing to talk about yet.
--
as gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich,
so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise.
[ Parent ]

Pass some more of that Soylent Green plaese (n/t) (none / 0) (#219)
by puppet10 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:15:26 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I prefer the Crunchy kind! (NT) (none / 0) (#229)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:05:37 PM EST



Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
Somebody did talk about that... (none / 0) (#251)
by Filip on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:34:19 AM EST

...about 250 years ago.

A Modest Proposal (scroll past that legalese) by Jonathan Swift.

To sum it up; it rather explicitly proposes exactly what you merely insinuated (and then some).

/Filip
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

yeah... (none / 0) (#254)
by zenofchai on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:23:04 AM EST

like 90% of american high school students I read the essay about 10-12 years ago...
--
as gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich,
so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise.
[ Parent ]
Ooops... (NT) (none / 0) (#260)
by Filip on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:18:53 PM EST


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Elephant Bird? (1.20 / 5) (#203)
by Scumbucket on Wed May 05, 2004 at 03:17:55 PM EST

Is that species related to the Penisbird?

Just wondering.......


well I got an email (none / 1) (#268)
by pantagruel on Fri May 07, 2004 at 02:47:12 PM EST

about a great new treatment that will change a penisbird to an elephant bird so i guess the answer would be yes.

[ Parent ]
passenger pigeons? (2.75 / 4) (#207)
by MikeWarren on Wed May 05, 2004 at 04:18:08 PM EST

Speaking of sky-darkening, delicious extinction, the passenger pigeon used to roam in flocks of billions across north america...
-- mike warren
yeah, repopulating the world with mammoths (none / 1) (#209)
by kkoolia on Wed May 05, 2004 at 04:56:41 PM EST

that's a brilliant fucking idea. not only because there is a point to it, but because it will work! i mean, there's obviously so much free, open, unexplored space in the world and so many natural resources to spare, it's absolutely crazy not to introduce a species of towering beasts.

Not a responsibility (none / 3) (#212)
by Nursie on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:40:00 PM EST

I understand why someone would talk about the responsibility angle, but I personally don't think we have a responsibility for the actions of generations pastt. We can learn from their actions, we can condemn them, but I do not believe that we should be making up for what they did to the natural world (unless that world were in crisis).
I think we should be spending all the money that would be spent on cloning the Dodo or elephant bird would be better put into defence of the tiger. I'm willing to consider other species, but the tiger is special. It is the very symbol of predatory power and elegance, of both the ferocity and beauty of nature. We humans use it extensively in our art and our culture. Why then do we allow them to continue to decline? There are only about 5000 left.

However, having said that I think we should concentrate on what we've got; I think it would be great to reintroduce diversity, I wholly applaud the efforts to re-breed the quagga, the barbary lion and the aurochs. But Mastodons and other ancient creatures wiped out by a pre-civilised man.... not sure about them. I guess in my mind there's some sort of cut-off date for when extinctions at the hand of man were "natural" and when they were "artificial" or "civilised". Possibly a distinction should also be made based on ho they were wiped out, whether it was natural selection or hunting them for pleasure.

That last thing leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Humans have wiped out whole species and contyinue to do so for reasons like chinese medicine, the fur trade and worst of all "big game hunting". It sickens me to see some of the comments below that say "Well yuh, lets reintroduce them, because then we can have something to hunt again". Barbarous, sick individuals delighting in the death of other animal......

Meta Sigs suck.

Problem of maintaining genetic diversity (none / 2) (#228)
by hershmire on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:05:07 PM EST

I believe this whole problem is moot for one reason: it is really hard to maintain genetic diversity with cloning. No, hear me out.

Even if we could effectively perfectly reconstruct the DNA of extinct animals, and could easily supplant them in similar species to form a clone, we'd still only have copies from one or two variants of the species. We would never be able to find enough different samples to form a genetically healthy family.

I'm too lazy tired to do a Google search, but if you only have one or two originals, the species will die out in a couple of generations due to deformations. This is why it's a big pain in the ass that captive pandas don't fuck, why incest is bad, and why the bible doesn't explain who Cain married.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
Not mutations (none / 1) (#233)
by Urthpaw on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:39:00 PM EST

Inbreeding increases the chances that a recessive gene will be expressed.  Since there are many unpleasant recessive genes, inbreeding can increase the chances for genetic diseases and so on.

[ Parent ]
Two Thoughts: (none / 3) (#231)
by virtualjay222 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:30:19 PM EST

1 - Evolution is, if you can forgive the cliché, survival of the fittest. Species go extinct because they are no longer able to survive in their environment. The problem lies in the fact that human influence on the environment may result in more than just problems for the animals/plants long term, but for us too. By killing off certain species, we may make our own existance more difficult for ourselves (ie. if a species of spider should go extinct, we may find ourselves with an insect problem that wrecks havoc on our agricultural system. just an example)

2 - Bringing back species, though appealing, is not the best long term idea. It would be like introducing any other new species to an ecosystem. I heard once that virtually all species, both animals and plants, native to Hawaii have gone extinct due to the introduction of other species. Why should currect species be sacrificed for the sake of those extinct?

(this rings vaguely of an affermative action argument - why should the current generation pay for a previous generation's mistakes, or the converse. but i digress)

---

I'm not in denial, I'm just selective about the reality I choose to accept.

-Calvin and Hobbes


hmmm, my take on that (none / 2) (#232)
by khallow on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:37:49 PM EST

2 - Bringing back species, though appealing, is not the best long term idea. It would be like introducing any other new species to an ecosystem. I heard once that virtually all species, both animals and plants, native to Hawaii have gone extinct due to the introduction of other species. Why should currect species be sacrificed for the sake of those extinct?

First, the pie is big. Current species don't need to be sacrificed. Second, you mix the problem of recreating ancient plants and animals - which will always be few in number due to the difficulty and expense of retrieving DNA to the modern problem of transport of exotic species. The latter is far greater in magnitude than the former will ever be.

(this rings vaguely of an affermative action argument - why should the current generation pay for a previous generation's mistakes, or the converse. but i digress)

On the other hand, why should that former generation not make those "mistakes" if they know that they and their descendants will never be harmed by the "mistake" and they will benefit greatly?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Dude, check out some history .... :) (none / 2) (#235)
by Saad on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:44:18 PM EST

1627, the year in which the last aurochs cow died a natural death in her haunts, as is stated in the report of the royal inspection performed in the year 1630.

Also, I do not think Polish king (or poachers) were using bows in 1627, any more.

But apart from fiction, story is ok.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
what weapons were they using then? -nt- (none / 0) (#263)
by Suppafly on Thu May 06, 2004 at 08:33:14 PM EST


---
Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
Maybe not. (none / 0) (#282)
by locke baron on Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:38:38 AM EST

But it's worthy of mention that some people hunt with bows, even today, so it's not unreasonable to suppose that someone might have been in 1627, despite the availability of muskets. After all, a bow reloads much faster than a musket.

The point about the last aurochs not having been directly killed by man is valid, though.
Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]

Boom (none / 1) (#287)
by Rob Simpson on Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:07:36 PM EST

It's also a lot quieter than a musket, which just might make a difference if you're likely to be executed if you're caught poaching.

[ Parent ]
Modern Use of the Bow (none / 0) (#291)
by CENGEL3 on Mon May 10, 2004 at 11:48:30 AM EST

Saw a revival after the American Civil War. Ex-Confederates were generaly forbiden from owning firearms.... so some inventive ones started using bows and arrows for hunting. This actualy caught on as a pastime and spread from there.

Prior to this the bow wasn't used for hunting among non-native populations that had access to fire arms. Fire Arms, even primitive ones, are just way more effective hunting weapons then bow & arrow,

[ Parent ]

Conflict in sources (none / 0) (#283)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:48:43 AM EST

For every source I find that claims that the last aurochs died through natural causes, another claims poachers (including, if I remember correctly, the Encyclopedia Brittanica). I decided to go with the latter (and admittedly more dramatic) claim for the purpose of the essay. It would be interesting to find an absolute authoritative source on this.


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
Nice Article (none / 1) (#255)
by Siddhi on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:12:22 AM EST

Its for interesting stuff like I visit K5. Nice article, no trolling, no flame wars, good discussion. If only more articles were like this.

A misunderstanding of evolution (none / 3) (#264)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:46:27 PM EST

First, thanks to all for the feedback and comments. There is one point of misunderstanding that I must address, however.

The argument has been made that the extinction of species is "just evolution", thereby implying that since these animals couldn't compete with man, it was inevitable and natural that they die out. This is fallacious.

First, to define the debate - evolution is genetic changes in a population over time. That's it. "Survival of the fittest" has nothing to do with it, other than the fact that an animal that survives long enough to procreate as much as possible, and thereby pass its genes on, is "fitter" than an animal which does not. To quote R. C. Lewontin in Human Diversity: "In evolutionary terms, an Olympic athlete who never has any children has a fitness of zero whereas J.S. Bach, who was sedentary and very much overweight, had an unusually high Darwinian fitness by virtue of his having been the father of twenty children."

Second, evolution is both blind and amoral. The process of evolution does not say what is "right", "wrong", or even "natural" - that is a value judgment that only a sentient being can make. Shrugging off the extinction of species by saying "it's alright, it's just evolution" is a misuse of science - a kind of naturalistic appeal to authority. (This was particularly well-addressed in this post

Third, the extinction events I've mentioned were not natural. Evolution "works" over timescales of thousands of years, and it does so best in large, diverse, and isolated populations. When your predators are armed only with tooth and claw and depend on your kind for their sustenance, it works out very well. Take a look at the boom-bust cycles in the population of wolves in Yellowstone, for example. If the wolf packs are very successful - or if there are simply too many wolves - their food source dwindles. In response, a number of wolves will die, and fewer pups will be born. The food source recovers, and the circle of life continues (cue Disney theme tune).

There is no evidence I've seen of a species being completely wiped out through predation in the animal kingdom other than at the hand of, or through the assistance of, man. (I'd be interested in seeing any cited reference to the contrary). Why not?

Because man has two things going for him: he is omnivorous, and he uses tools. How is the Thompson's gazelle meant to evolve against the spear, atalal, or long-range rifle? When the population of gazelles drops, does mankind immediately suffer? And if Thompson's gazelle is completely wiped out, does mankind starve to death? Of course not - we move on to slaughter something else, pick berries, or grow crops. The feedback mechanism stuttered when we developed molars and incisors in the same jaw, and stopped completely when we fashioned flint into spearheads. (Alternatively, nature's big payback may just be waiting a hundred years down the track).

I do side with the statement of Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park about the dinosaurs - "Nature selected them for extinction." But I was at pains to present species that were wiped out not by some cataclysmic event that we were and are powerless to prevent, but creatures that we, as human beings, wiped out through conscious action. When a Mauritian stole the last Elephant bird egg, she or he must have had some awareness of what he was doing - yet they took it anyway. It was conscious action, not "natural evolution" that caused these species to disappear from the Earth. I am presenting the possibility of conscious action bringing them back.

And as for those of you who argue that "I am only responsible for myself, and no-one else", I would make the case that you live in a rather insular and theoretical world. Most people not living in a log cabin in Montana recognize that they have some degree of responsibility to their family, community, and/or country, regarding its health, security, and prosperity. So - if you were that Mauritian, would you take the same action? And if it was in your power to do so, would you undo its consequences?

It is not my intention to indulge in some Homo sapiens guilt-trip. I am only asking if we, as human beings, completely extinguish other species, is it responsible or even reasonable to bring them back, assuming we have the power to do so?


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
RE: A misunderstanding of evolution (none / 2) (#274)
by aderusha on Sat May 08, 2004 at 01:20:54 AM EST

i take some objection to a few minor points in both this post and the original article. first, the use of the word "poacher" in the article - "poaching" is illegal hunting. the hunter in question was in violation of no laws, and as such what he was doing was hunting. no more or no less. i personally don't hunt as i don't really have the stomach for it but humanity wouldn't be where we are without it.

the second point is your suggestion in this post that natural selection only applies to non-sentient beings. you seem to argue that the fact that we have a "conciousness" somehow removes us from the chain of evolution which is clearly untrue. evolution is a process that all life engages in. it has nothing to do with conciousness or social responsibility - if one particular creature gains the ability to dominate over all other creatures, then that creature has the ability to hunt any other species to extinction for whatever reason. evolution has no sense of right or wrong, it's just the plain fact that some species are more able to thrive in a given environment, and those that are able to reproduce are more likely to survive as a species. there's no morality in evolutionary science.

now, given that we are able to see the "bigger picture", we should as a species think a little more about our place in the natural world. however, evolution alone doesn't dictate that we tread lightly and concern ourselves with species outside of ourselves. this article seems to be attempting to turn a scientific principle into a moral arguement about how we should behave in our world. there might be some room for that in some higher theory, but darwinism has no place for morality - it simply states that those species more able to reproduce and to see their offspring reproduce are more likely to be sucessful. nothing more.

[ Parent ]

Uh... (none / 1) (#276)
by Zerotime on Sat May 08, 2004 at 01:54:09 AM EST

the hunter in question was in violation of no laws, and as such what he was doing was hunting. no more or no less.

If they were hunting in an area reserved exclusively for use by royalty, then they were most certainly breaking laws. Perhaps you should turn off your libertarianistic attitude for a few minutes and go look up deer hunting in England during the middle ages.

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]

You may want to read the article and post again (none / 1) (#278)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Sat May 08, 2004 at 02:43:47 AM EST

The hunter was poaching, and not once did I say that natural selection only affects non-sentient beings. I have said that we are somewhat "above" the natural checks and balances of a predatory population.

Otherwise you're repeating most of my points, which suggests that either you don't understand them or you haven't been paying attention.


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
extinction (none / 1) (#279)
by jezmund on Sat May 08, 2004 at 03:14:44 AM EST

There is no evidence I've seen of a species being completely wiped out through predation in the animal kingdom other than at the hand of, or through the assistance of, man. (I'd be interested in seeing any cited reference to the contrary). Why not?

Well, then I propose that you just aren't looking hard enough. The two easiest and most obvious examples are Australia and South America. For a great while, Antarctica, Australia, and South America were connected together, and separate from the other continents. Marsupial life flourished on these continents, with marsupials occupying basically every ecological niche. However, most of these marsupials are now extinct. These species were simply outcompeted and outhunted by placental (non-human) competitors. You yourself point out that dogs and rats played as much (if not more) of a role in the extinction of some species. As for a reference, I'm too tired to hunt for a good link. If you want to know more, I suggest you read Splendid Isolation, which is the seminal account of the South American Marsupial experience. At least, it was back when I read it. I'm interested in where you get the idea that the only species which create extinction are humans. You mention predation as an example - if predators eat too much of their prey, they decline in numbers and the prey return. However, this neglects the fact that many predators hunt more than one type of prey, and could still survive even if one of their prey species should go extinct. More importantly, you overlook competition as a means of extinction. A species doesn't necessarily have to "hunt" another species to drive it to extinction. It can just outcompete the other species for resources.

[ Parent ]
You have not supplied a single solid example... (none / 0) (#280)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Sat May 08, 2004 at 09:58:49 AM EST

...and I also said that dogs, rats etc were introduced by man to the areas where extinction happened - they wouldn't have made it to New Zealand and elsewhere otherwise. Ergo "at the hand of, or through the assistance of, man". Thanks for the book reference!
-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
a single example (none / 0) (#284)
by jezmund on Sat May 08, 2004 at 02:01:42 PM EST

Well, I figured entire continents of example would be good enough, but if you want just one, here you go: alphadon. And you completely missed the point about the dogs and rats. Yes, they were introduced by man, but they caused the extinction, not man. It's illustrative of a point: how species introduced to a new ecosystem can cause extinction. Now imagine that instead of man being the agent of introduction, it's plate tectonics.
It's nice that you have an interest in the subject, I would suggest you take classes or read books on the subject so that you can better understand some of the basics.

[ Parent ]
Thank you for the research, but... (none / 0) (#285)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Sat May 08, 2004 at 08:19:48 PM EST

I was asking for examples of extinction through predation in the natural world that were not caused by man. You've supplied Alphadon, but it is not clear that the species was eliminated through predation. Since it disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous, the most likely cause was the same mass extinction event that caused the death of 75% of species at that time, rather than predation. The point remains open - again, if you have evidence to the contrary I'd be interested in seeing it.

I'm afraid we're in disagreement over the "introduced species" argument. I see your reductionism of "it wasn't man, it was the animals he introduced" to be along the same lines as "it's not us that's causing the smog, it's this darn pollution." Bottom line - without human action, it would not have happened. Man remains the prime cause.


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
You're making a mistake... (none / 0) (#301)
by Chubs on Tue May 11, 2004 at 03:32:12 PM EST

You're basing your thesis on a very, very, short period of time in earth's history. The movement of the earth's land masses have joined and separated different species. To say that no other species have gone extinct due to over predation of another, except by man, is specious. In short, you're asking for people to prove you wrong when there's no way you can prove you're thesis is right. To be right, you'd have to show that every species that went extinct pre-man was because of environmental causes - you can't provide that proof.

[ Parent ]
But neither can it be proved that any species... (none / 0) (#305)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Fri May 14, 2004 at 12:30:36 PM EST

... became extinct from non-human predation. Environmental changes are known to cause extinction - non-human predation is not. On that basis, the point stands.


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
Well then it is a lose-lose situation (none / 0) (#309)
by StangDriver on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 06:37:44 PM EST

If we re-introduce an already extinct spieces into an already balanced ecosystem.....

[ Parent ]
Human beings are not natural? (none / 1) (#295)
by kwertii on Mon May 10, 2004 at 06:47:09 PM EST

Your argument, if I understand correctly, is basically that extinctions due to natural causes are OK and should not be reversed by humans (the dinosaurs), but extinctions instigated by humans maybe ought to be reversed (the dodo).

However, implicit in this argument is the assumption that human beings (and, by extension, activities) are somehow unnatural.

Did humans not evolve, just as any other animal? Were our omnivorous, tool-using bodies not developed through a long, long period of natural selection, just like every other animal?

I think this distinction you draw between "natural" extinctions and human-triggered extinctions is rather specious and artificial. Yes, "conscious action" prompted these animals you've listed to become extinct; but that "conscious action" is, in itself, nothing but a natural product, the behavior of just another organically evolved species. Kind of arrogant to elevate humans and their behavior onto some kind of pedestal so far above nature, eh?




----
"He lives most gaily who knows best how to deceive himself." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

[ Parent ]
I disagree with your definition... (none / 0) (#308)
by StangDriver on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 06:06:01 PM EST

...of "Survival of the fittest"

"Survival of the fittest" has nothing to do with it, other than the fact that an animal that survives long enough to procreate as much as possible, and thereby pass its genes on, is "fitter" than an animal which does not.

I dont claim to know much on the topic, but in my opinion, your definition is slightly off. You are right in the sense that if an animal can survive long enough to produce offspring, it is fit. You leave out the fact that the environment, which is ever-changing, has an aweful lot to do with an animal's ability to survive long enough.

Lets say for example, there was an animal that is so fit to live in our world, it could never die of accidental causes. If we give this animal a lifespan of 100 years, it would only have to reproduce once in its life and its species would never go extinct. That is until the environment changes in such a way to present the possibility of an accident that could actually kill the animal. Like maybe all the world's oxygen producing plant dying off. This animal no longer meets the definition of "fit" in this new environment and will go extinct.

When the first modern humans appeared on earth, the environment changed in such a way that decreased the odds of certain speices living on. This had nothing to do with their rate of reproduction. It was the properties of those animals that did not match up well with the new environment, and put them at a disadvantage.

[ Parent ]

Assuming we will be able to do this in the future, (none / 0) (#269)
by Edziak on Fri May 07, 2004 at 03:33:09 PM EST

Where are we going to put these animals? It seems to me that the greater challenge would be finding a habitat suitable for them. Conservationists are having a hard enough time finding places to put packs of timberwolves, and thats in highly upopulated areas of America. Where in Europe are we going to put a herd of Aurochs? I don't think it would be ethical to bring back any of these animals simply to put them in a zoo. Perhaps some sort of ranching situation could be aranged for the large herbivores, like what they're doing with Bison.

The Plymouth colony in mass. was founded 1621 (none / 1) (#273)
by lukme on Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:35:08 PM EST

The pilgrams certainly weren't using bow an arrows to kill all things.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Passenger pigeons? You know what they ate? (none / 0) (#275)
by ankh on Sat May 08, 2004 at 01:50:58 AM EST

The main item on the passenger pigeon's diet: mosquitos.

West nile, encephalitis, malaria, you name it.

All thanks to the professional stool-pigeon-shooters, who just parked their wagon and turned a huge pile of shotgun shells into a huge pile of dead birds, those they bothered to retrieve out of the carpet of dead ones around their little portable seat at the end of the day.

Swat all you like, you'll never match the birds; there are plenty of mosquitoes.

What I'm waiting for: 21st Century Cockfights (none / 2) (#288)
by flimflam on Sun May 09, 2004 at 11:20:03 AM EST

Moa vs. Elephant Bird!

Tasmanian Tiger vs. European Lion!

Mastodon vs. Aurochs!


-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek

You do realise... (none / 0) (#290)
by Zerotime on Mon May 10, 2004 at 12:59:32 AM EST

...that the European Lion was rather large, and the Thylacine was somewhat smaller and actually a kind of dog, right?

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
That's what handicapping is for (none / 2) (#292)
by flimflam on Mon May 10, 2004 at 03:21:59 PM EST

3-legged European Lion vs. Thylacine.

Anyway, since we're probably going to have to do some genetic manipulation to make these things viable anyway, why not even the score a bit:

European Lion vs. Giant Thylacine (with reinforced jaw)


-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]

Strange (none / 1) (#294)
by gr3m on Mon May 10, 2004 at 06:43:28 PM EST

No mention of introduced disease?

We should bring them back for scientific purposes (none / 0) (#306)
by StangDriver on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:40:52 PM EST

It is important to note that we're not talking Jurassic Park scenarios here. These are not animals separated from us by millions of years. The dodo, the aurochs, the European lion were not made extinct by cataclysmic weather changes or asteroid impacts, but as a direct result of the actions of man. Should they be recovered? The cataclysmic events that made other species extinct have no remorse. Why should we? Species go extinct for different reasons every day. Why do the ones that we are responsible for deserve a second chance? Blame us for killing off the mammoth? How about blaming the mammoth for having an extremely low reproduction rate. Life is a business of out with the old and in with the new. This is the natural order of things. Its how we prevent life itself from going extinct! That said, I wouldn't mind going to the zoo one day and seeing up-close and in person, a living mammoth! :D Who wouldn't want to? Thats some cool science! But please dont get caught up in all the hype of "we are savage intellegent beings who single handedly wiped out these species". We aren't the first species to wipe out another, nor the last. One thing that really gets my blood boiling, however, is when people harm endangered creatures out of greed. The only purpose for such killings is for one to provide in excess, for oneself. This is one of the ugliest sides of human nature, but like it or not, it is in our nature. Meaning it is *natural* for us to do this. Should we bring these extinct creatures back? The only correct answer to that question is, "If you want to".

We should bring them back for scientific purposes (none / 0) (#307)
by StangDriver on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:42:16 PM EST

Sorry...reposting this with paragraph breaks.

 

It is important to note that we're not talking Jurassic Park scenarios here. These are not animals separated from us by millions of years. The dodo, the aurochs, the European lion were not made extinct by cataclysmic weather changes or asteroid impacts, but as a direct result of the actions of man. Should they be recovered?

The cataclysmic events that made other species extinct have no remorse. Why should we? Species go extinct for different reasons every day. Why do the ones that we are responsible for deserve a second chance? Blame us for killing off the mammoth? How about blaming the mammoth for having an extremely low reproduction rate. Life is a business of out with the old and in with the new. This is the natural order of things. Its how we prevent life itself from going extinct!

That said, I wouldn't mind going to the zoo one day and seeing up-close and in person, a living mammoth! :D

Who wouldn't want to? Thats some cool science! But please dont get caught up in all the hype of "we are savage intellegent beings who single handedly wiped out these species". We aren't the first species to wipe out another, nor the last.

One thing that really gets my blood boiling, however, is when people harm endangered creatures out of greed. The only purpose for such killings is for one to provide in excess, for oneself. This is one of the ugliest sides of human nature, but like it or not, it is in our nature. Meaning it is *natural* for us to do this. Should we bring these extinct creatures back? The only correct answer to that question is, "If you want to".

Genetic Responsibility | 309 comments (259 topical, 50 editorial, 1 hidden)
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