Skip to comments.Pleistocene Park? On the reintroduction of species
Posted on 08/20/2005 2:15:44 PM PDT by sociotard
Sorry if this is a repost.
Elephants and lions unleashed on North America?
18:00 17 August 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Elephants, lions, cheetahs and camels could one day roam the western US under a proposal to recreate North American landscapes as they existed more than 13,000 years ago, when humans first encountered them.
The plan, proposed in a commentary in Nature and co-authored by 13 ecologists and conservation biologists, would help enrich a North American ecosystem that was left almost devoid of large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene period. It would also help preserve wildlife that faces the threat of extinction in Africa and Asia.
Between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, 97 of 150 genera of large mammals disappeared from around the world. Although a warming climate played its part, the consensus is that over-hunting by humans probably had a significant role.
In North America, by about 13,000 years ago, humans were leaving evidence of big-game hunting using sophisticated stone tools. This hunting probably helped to drive many animals to extinction, including North American mammoths and mastodons, lions, cheetahs, camelops (a relative of the modern camel), horses and asses.
Although those animals are gone forever, related African and Asian species could serve as proxies, the authors say. They propose introducing the animals over 50 years, starting with horses, asses and camels, working up to elephants, and finally bringing in the big cats.
Eventually, the animals could roam in preserves hundreds of thousands of hectares in size. The best place to create this Pleistocene Park would be in the North American Great Plains, where the human population is relatively low and the grazing animals would have a ready supply of food.
But other conservationists think it is a bad idea. Chris Haney, a conservation biologist at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, DC, US, says that substituting modern equivalents of extinct species will not be the same as restoring the ancient ecosystem. And he thinks it would detract from more pressing and realistic goals, such as restoring wolves, grizzlies, elk and other animals to their historic North American ranges. Even those reintroductions have faced bitter opposition from ranchers, farmers, and residents.
"I need to work on wolves, not mastodons," agrees Douglas Inkley, senior science adviser to the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Virginia, US.
Journal reference: Nature (vol 436, p 913)
If they were to do this, I would hope they'd use another suggestion I heard, that of using genuine Pleistocene DNA, grafted (if necessary) onto their modern equivalents. It just seems more interesting.
Now to the wildlife: for the "camels" grab some alpaca and llamas from South America. For "lions"...well, unless we manage to clone the sabre toothed cat with a strong enough gene pool for it not to become extinct again, we're just gonna have to be satisfied with mountain lions; though they're a different specie of cat, at least THEY'RE native.
Whoever came up with this idea needs to slow down on the late night drinking binges.
And we've ALREADY got horses, big cats, donkeys and the asses who come up with whacked like this one. Elephants...for Pete's sake.
I Wish science would make up its mind. First we hear about an obesity crisis in the U.S. then we get told, " The plan, would help enrich a North American ecosystem that was left almost devoid of large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene period."
Either they want large mammals or they don't. Now which would you rather have people wandering about looking for their next Big Mac or hungry lions?
Does this report imply Native Americans caused extinction of some animal species in N. America?! Oh the horror!
? What does YEC INTREP mean?
Typical pointy-headed acedemics awash in hubris.
All other arguments aside, man cannot create a sustainable ecosystem. Just look at the repercussions of plants and animals that have been imported into various countries to control this or that pest. Huge failures that turn into Frankensteins.
They've been trying to clone a mammoth for years. They're having trouble finding unbroken DNA.
at least THEY'RE native.
We don't have any of them there hectares here in the US so you don't need to worry about them furaner critters.
LOL! Native Americans are blamed for causing the extinction of the wolly mammoth in North America...when they're not being worshipped for their sensitivity to gaia.
This is backward. If anything, it was a cooling climate that played a part, specifically the Ice Age which concentrated the large animals near coastal areas preventing them from migrating away from the hunting pressure.
In fact, the ice age + over-hunting theory appeared right here on FR not that long ago:
This, to me, suggests the author is trying to sneak in the global warming junk science into a story that really has nothing to do with warming.
As for the merrits of the introduction of these large anumals, every single instance of Man's tinkering around with introduction of outside species has brought disaster in one form or another. Witness the rabits to Australia, dogs and cats to New Zealand, Buffo frogs to Hawaii, etc.
Left unsaid is who's land they propose to take for their grand expiriment.
And I for one think that might be a cool idea. Not that I expect them to be viable, but just to see what they looked like and compare them to modern elephants.
The difference is there exists samples of flesh for these animals, as every once in a while one is pulled out of a glacier or the perma-frost somewhere reasonably intact.
I think it is a great idea. It is best possible use for the State of Kansas!
Heck, the author's trying to sneak global warming junk science into zoological and geological junk science, to at least he's consistant.
You'll notice that ya never see stories about Carter visiting Australia. Cause and effect!
"Now which would you rather have people wandering about looking for their next Big Mac or hungry lions?"
Actually the latter is the answer to the former.
To thin out(no pun intended) the slowest and the fattest by introducing very hungry lions that will either eat them or make then run off the extra fries.
Then of course you have to decide what to do with fat lions.....LOL
Hasn't anyone seen Jurassic Park? I think it would be a bad move.
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