Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What's so bad about extinction, anyway?


With all this talk about de-extinction and the apparent desire to bring back no less than 22 defunct species, a number of commentators are starting to ask if extinction is such a bad thing. It's a part of nature, they argue, and one that might even be good for us.

Such is the sentiment of BBC's science editor David Shukman, who in a recent article notes that "extinction has been part of the natural order of things throughout Earth's history." The most famous mass extinction, of course, resulting in the loss of the dinosaurs.

"We are certainly far better off without velociraptors slashing their way through our cities," he writes. "Our streets are safer with no sabre-toothed tigers. And imagine trying to swat one of those monster prehistoric insects like a vulture-sized dragonfly."

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