As animal cloning becomes more and more commonplace, the idea of replacing your dearly departed dachshund may be losing some of its sizzle to what could be the next breakthrough: taking lessons learned from duplicating the Spots and Fidos of the world and applying them to a cause as ambitious as Jurassic Park itself.
In other words, not simply cheating death, but full-scale extinction.
In a sprawling profile of South Korean dog cloner Hwang Woo-suk, a once-disgraced human cloning researcher whom billionaires now pay to respawn their dying or deceased pets, Vanity Fair observed that Hwang and other cloning scientists’ eyes are increasingly beginning to drift toward the past — even as they refine the still highly inefficient process of churning out the canine version of what one researcher described as “identical twins born at a later date.”
“In a nod to Jurassic Park, Hwang is also using intact tissue frozen for thousands of years in Siberia to attempt to resurrect the woolly mammoth, fusing ancient cells recovered from the frozen tundra with donor eggs from modern-day elephants,” VF reports.
That cursory description suggests a process that’s strikingly similar to the one playfully outlined by Jurassic Park’s Mr. DNA — the friendly animated character who greets visitors with the quick and easy version of how Dr. Henry Wu and his colleagues extracted and then spliced ancient dinosaur DNA to populate an entire Jurassic Park’s worth of lumbering archaic beasts.
In another dystopian nod to the movies, one dog-cloning scientist revealed that the surrogate mother dogs used to gestate the cloned embryos, while not clones themselves, are nevertheless bred with specific characteristics in mind.
“We breed the surrogate moms to be docile and gentle,” explained researcher Jae Woong Wang, describing one of the mixed-breed “mutts” who births and nurses the 2.0 batches of duplicate pups.
Of course the cloning debate remains as rife as ever with ethical issues, but with policies and regulations varying so tremendously throughout the world (to say nothing of researchers who always will carry out their work regardless of the legal risks), science, like life, finds a way. Let’s just hope whatever way the cloning community eventually conjures comes without the teeth and claws that might one day cause us to go the way of the dinosaurs.