We live in a generation where teachers make a fraction of what professional athletes take home. People can become celebrities by being really good at Twitter and you could get an MTV show by being able to ride in a shopping cart and crash into things, so we think it’s kind of cool how science and learning is making it’s comeback and our current favorite is the #SciShow on Youtube!
In the spirit of our new weekly advice column, “The Elephant in the Room,” we thought we’d give you a nice visual to start your weekend with. Beautiful, powerful, moving, and just plain adorable, these images are guaranteed to make an impression on your heart.
There are roughly 450,000 to 700,000 African elephants and 35,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants in the world today. These numbers have drastically reduced since the turn of the 20th century, though, due to poaching, climate change, and habitat loss. Majestic and highly intelligent, elephants live in matriarchal herds and can communicate with one another even over vast distances. They are the “big friendly giants” of the animal kingdom, and certainly worthy of praise.
Have a great weekend!
If you thought Jurassic Park was entirely science fiction, then guess again. “De-extinction” isn’t just the stuff of fantasy, but rather a burgeoning field in science that aims to revive extinct species. Early trials are being tested on the Passenger Pigeon, as well as the wooly mammoth, the prospect of which conjures an exciting, if bizarre, mental image.
Before we get your hopes up over mammoth-covered hillsides and (dare we dream) dinosaur-filled theme parks, the success of these early trials has been very modest. As of now, only one extinct species has “successfully” been brought back to life – in quotes because the baby animal only survived several minutes before perishing once again into oblivion. Had the baby lived, the world would have witnessed the rebirth of the Pyrenean ibex, a species of wild goat with long curved horns and a bulk of up to 220 pounds. Of 57 implantations using cloned cells from the last Pyrenean ibex, driven to extinction by hunters in 1999, seven lead to pregnancies, and only one was carried to term. Even just the hint of success has created a flurry in the scientific community.
It may be thrilling to imagine a revival of the orange-bellied Passenger Pigeon or the hills of Spain peppered with giant wild goats. But some scientists have questioned the ethics of such use of scientific technologies. Even if researchers have the ability to bring extinct species back to life, is it practical, necessary, or even appropriate for them to do so? Given humans’ track record, do we have any place in meddling further with evolution? Perhaps instead, as conservation scientist Stacy Small-Lorenz suggests, we should save precious conservation resources for protecting currently at-risk species. “De-extinction” or no, the reality remains that human actions can have permanent detrimental effects on the environment. Only preemptive efforts are going to make a difference on that front.
Here are five species facing extinction that we’d like to see live on (and keep playing) for decades to come:
1. Celebes Crested Macaque
2. Siberian Tiger
3. San Joaquin Kit Fox
4. Sea Otter
5. Dhole – Mountain Dog
Would you like to help these animals live on and keep playing? There are plenty of opportunities for citizens to take action and make a difference. Learn what you can do by visiting the Take Action page at Defenders of Wildlife.
Photo essay originally published in Time Magazine.