Recently we got some “New Year’s Brain Food for the BSG (Bear Specialist group)” from our friend Dave Garshelis that we want to share with you.

  1. A Short Quiz:

Which bear species has the shortest snout relative to the length of the skull?

  1. Giant panda
  2. Sun bear
  3. Andean bear
  4. Giant short-faced bear (extinct)
  1.  A Controversial Question:

Should we bring back the Giant Short-Faced bear (or other charismatic fauna that humans drove to extinction)? Geneticists are on the cusp of doing so – see this interesting video:  TED talk de-extinction

The speaker asks –“are you ready?” — Indeed, are we ready?
(For a more technical paper on the subject, see: Pathways to de-extinction)

The IUCN recently produced a document on: Guiding Principles on Creating Proxies of Extinct Species for Conservation Benefit

click here to read the document

Short faced bear
A restoration of a Giant short-faced bear (extinct) from Wikipedia

Note that it is generally acknowledged that no extinct species can actually be “brought back” in its entirety “due to genetic, epigenetic, behavioural, physiological, and other differences.” But geneticists may create species that look and act a lot like the extinct forms and serve as functional equivalents of what was lost.  But how might this affect the current ecosystems that have evolved in the absence of these species?  That’s the main controversy.  We have little idea what would happen in an area if we establish a population of giant short-faced bears.  But do we have a moral obligation to bring back species that we caused to go extinct, if we have the technical abilities to do so?

New Year’s Brain Food for the BSG