The Survival of Great Apes – DNA and Orangutans {Part 2}

Spring break is finally over and our good weather looks like it may last a couple of days longer (let’s hope!). The sunshine warms our skin as we play and our hearts as enjoyed our time together. Mostly anyway. At the least the week gave us lots of togetherness and time to discuss interesting topics like DNA and endangered animals.

Dinosaur - Example of an Extinct Species


What are the scientific ethics in a world where extinct species could be brought back to life?

DNA, Extinct Animals, and Their Habitat

The eldest is fascinated with DNA and what we know versus how much we don’t yet have any idea about when it comes to it. He is a smart, imaginative guy who is always working to see what we could do with the science we have and the science he yearns to learn for the future. He doesn’t always have the right terminology or understanding, but he is always, always thinking.

“What if we could learn everything there is to know about DNA so that we could bring back the extinct species that died because of man?”

Who read the novel, or at least watched the movie version of, Jurassic Park? They used scientific technology to create a wonderland of dinosaurs – big and small – as amusement and then horror. It of course brings up all kinds of ethical questions about what should be done with scientific advances, just look at the world of biotechnology right now.

But beyond the fantastical and ethical, we talked about how we have caused so much destruction to certain species’ habitats and ways of survival, that we had a wonderful conversation about what could happen if we were able to bring back some of the more recent extinct species. What if we were capable of bringing back the Bali Tiger which became extinct around 1937? Would these tigers have the habitat, food, and protection to remain alive in the wild for long? I highly doubt it. Humans have interfered with the lives of animals too long and too much in many cases.

Palm Oil Deforestation


“The last batch of sawnwood from the peat forest in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province. The end of the forest, the end of forestry. The Oil Palm Planter will take over now.The palm oil will be used for Mars bars, pizzas, fish ‘n chips and perhaps your energize your electricity socket or to fill SUV gas tank with super green climate saving gasoline.” via Wakx 

The Palm Oil Problem for Orangutans

As conversations meander, so did ours to the great apes and the piece I had just written. Specifically we talked about the direct correlation between palm oil harvesting and the loss of so many orangutans. Again, even if we were to artificially bolster the population or bring them back once they become extinct – perhaps within the decade as many experts suggest – would they be able to survive in the wild without humans taking extreme measures to making their habitat safe, beneficial, and livable for them? No. This is why we are in this trouble in the first place.

So if we are speaking specifically about orangutans we know one extreme change we could all make now to help them: stop consuming palm oil.

My son had the same idea I had about creating something to show everyone the products which contain palm oil and the alternate names for it. He even wants to show it to his classmates at school. This was an idea that was sparked by his imagination, a quick car conversation, and a desire to make the world better. Who could ask for a better kid?

Want to get your kid involved? What about you? Help us research! Send along your ideas and your child will get credit on our final work.

Related: The Survival of Great Apes {Part 1}

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Comments

The Survival of Great Apes – DNA and Orangutans {Part 2} — 6 Comments

  1. Good post.

    Ultimately what I’m noticing is scientists don’t have ethics as much as they have country club memberships.

    People are motivated by money these days and money usually leads people in the opposite direction of ethical behavior or morals.

    The Tuskegee experiment is an example of what happens when the scientists have the power.

    Monsanto is another.
    Darnell Jackson recently posted..What I learned from James Chartrand – Q&A with the founder of Men with Pens

    • I don’t necessarily agree with you about the scientists themselves. The top figures in the industrial and biotech food industry are another story. Money can certainly be a corruptor and is too often true, but I hold out some hope when I see the spark in the youngest generation.

  2. What an empathetic environmentalist!
    I am learning more and more about the horrors of palm oil…up until recently, I knew I should avoid it, just wasnt totally tuned in to WHY…

  3. Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years owing to the high saturated fat content.

  4. Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years owing to the high saturated fat content.”

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