The ethics of a real-life Jurassic Park

William Fisher

Parker Bradford, Editor of Community

Technology has been advancing since the dawn of human innovation, as has our fundamental understanding of our planet and the creatures living on it. Therefore, it is not surprising that we, as a people, have considered the possibility of changing or recreating creatures that are no longer alive on Earth. We have seen people making attempts at bringing back extinct species such as the woolly mammoth already, and these creations are, as of now, promising. This begs the question, could we bring back some of Earth’s most ancient creatures- specifically, dinosaurs?

“Genetic engineering is the process of using recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology to alter the genetic makeup of an organism. Traditionally, humans have manipulated genomes indirectly by controlling breeding and selecting offspring with desired traits. Genetic engineering involves the direct manipulation of one or more genes. Most often, a gene from another species is added to an organism’s genome to give it a desired phenotype.” This definition comes from the National Human Genome Research Institute. Genetic engineering is by no means new technology, but it has advanced far beyond what it was when the term was first coined, currently being used to bring back a long-extinct animal, the woolly mammoth, a feat that will be a testament to how far science and technology have advanced during our time on Earth.

If the idea of bringing back extinct animals is familiar to you, that may be because one of the most popular films of the 1990s, Jurassic Park, explored this exact idea and showed the possible repercussions of such actions. Of course, there are plenty of people who will say that a real Jurassic Park would be one of the most popular attractions and would attract hundreds of thousands of people, but this comes at a cost. Those who are fans of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies know that they all end in the dinosaurs breaching captivity and causing mayhem and destruction, not to mention several deaths. Knowing how possible it is to bring back the long-extinct woolly mammoth, the recreation of dinosaurs, while currently unlikely, is more than likely to be possible at some point in the future. So, with this in mind, the question should not be if a real Jurassic Park could happen, but if it should happen.

Taking the concerns shown within the movies (the real possibility of death and destruction of property) out of the picture for the moment, a real-life Jurassic Park would entail the use of genetic engineering to recreate creatures that are long extinct. Containment of these creatures would be the highest priority of those creating this park, but consider that though it is as of the moment unlikely that a normal zoo experiences a breach in containment, many dinosaurs are massive, and their numerous capabilities are as of now unprecedented in any single modern species of animal. Assuming any of these creatures did breach containment, which still happens in zoos that contain animals we are able to observe and study in the wild regularly, this means that they would have no natural predators and that those dinosaurs that are predators themselves would be free to attack animals that are unaccustomed to dealing with the threats that dinosaurs can bring.

The idea that a dinosaur recreated by our technology breaking free of containment is not new, it happens in every Jurassic Park film. Therefore, we should think of the consequences this brings, not just to us, but to our environment. Dinosaurs would easily be considered an invasive species, and the repercussions environments face when in contact with an invasive species can be extreme. The United States Geological Survey has written about multiple invasive species that were introduced to the U.S. and the disastrous effects they have had on not only the environment but the economy.

Now let us examine the possibility of these recreated dinosaurs escaping captivity and the harm that they could do to anyone in the vicinity. Many species of dinosaurs are massive, much more so than humans, and so these creatures don’t even need to be predators to do real harm to us and to our property. Predatorial dinosaur species are in the position to do even more damage and to cause even more deaths, especially with the threat of both size and predatory instinct. Few who have heard of the Tyrannosaurus Rex would not be terrified to encounter one in the flesh, especially one that is no longer in containment. The real danger that these creatures would pose to human lives is staggering and should bring pause to those considering attempting to bring them back.

Conversely, the emergence of dinosaurs in a theme-park setting like Jurassic Park could be a massive benefit to the economy, as people pile into airports across the world for tickets to see the genetically engineered dinosaur replicas. However, this benefit alone should not be enough to eclipse the serious harm that dinosaurs could do to us and to our society, and anyone considering the possible recreation of dinosaurs should take into account the real danger they pose to humanity and planet Earth as a whole.