show longnow.org menu

Criteria Checklist

Can a particular extinct species be revived? Should it be? The answers are never simple, because they have to come from weighing an array of considerations. This interactive tool offers a way to examine a range of criteria simultaneously and to compare species in terms of how the criteria apply differently to them. (Note that the criteria listed here are a small sample of the many that must ultimately be examined.) The Criteria Checklist is intended to be provocative and to engender public engagement and critical thinking on the topic of de-extinction.The criteria fall into a logical sequence. Is de-extinction technically possible—can the extinct genome potentially be revived? Then, could a revived population of the extinct species realistically make its way through captive breeding to return to the wild. Finally, do we really want the species back?

ROM-BirdGallery-PassengerPigeon
Passenger Pigeon
take our poll
Show Section Information
1IS DE-EXTINCTION SCIENTIFICALLY POSSIBLE FOR THIS SPECIES? Comments
Has it been extinct less than 800K years?
Is there enough DNA for sequencing?Dry Tissue, Bone
Is there a closely-related species to use for reference?Band-tail Pigeon
Could this "relative" be used for producing offspring?
Is De-extinction Scientifically Possible?
Yes
Show Section Information
2COULD THIS SPECIES FLOURISH IN THE WILD? Comments
Does it have sufficient habitat to thrive?
Yes
Reforestation is increasing the area of viable habitat throughout the passenger pigeon's original range.
Could it be bred successfully in captivity?
Yes
Pigeons are a model species for captive breeding. The rarest of pigeons breed in captivity well.
Without its natural parents can behavior be conditioned?
maybe
Birds have been successfully raised by puppets and surrogate parents in captivity.
Can it be well-managed in the wild?
maybe
Have the original causes of extinction been resolved?
Yes
Commercial harvest of wild birds was a 19th century practice, now illegal.
Can new extinction threats be managed?
maybe
Could this species flourish in the wild?
maybe
Show Section Information
3SHOULD THIS SPECIES BE REVIVED? Comments
Is society receptive to its revival?
maybe
Does it offer potential economic or other societal benefits?
Yes
Ecotourism.
Can adequate animal welfare be ensured?
Yes
Will its reintroduction benefit other species?
Yes
Is it of unique significance to science?
Yes
Does it play a significant ecological role?
maybe
Passenger pigeons are seed predators that may benefit forest biodiversity.
Should this species be revived?
Yes
Is this a good candidate for de-extinction? yes

Our Rating System

To answer the question “Is this a good candidate for de-extinction?,” we have applied a very simplistic formula:
Any candidate that receives a “No” in Section 1 does not proceed to sections 2 or 3.

For all other candidates, the final calculation that is used is based on having answered 9 or more of the 16 questions with a “Yes” or a “Maybe.” Therefore, more than 50% of the answers of that type (“Yes” or “Maybe”) will result in that determination.