I know about the Seed Vault, don’t they already have one for animals?
There are numerous seed vaults around the world including:
However, it is much harder to make a vault for animals, because:
• Plants don’t move, Animals do
• Animals can be nocturnal, can burrow, hibernate, fly, swim or roam vast ranges making them difficult to find and catch
• Plants have seeds, which are enough to create life just by planting them in the ground. This has meant vast numbers have been collected over the years
• A seed basically contains a fertilised embryo ready to be 'born' whereas obtaining an embryo for animals is very rare and difficult to obtain in the wild
• Seeds are tough - seeds have tough outer shells to protect them. This means they don’t need to be frozen or carefully protected and can be sent through the standard mail
• Plant have cells with walls, animals don’t - this makes plant cells much more durable
• Seeds are easy and cheap to store and transport - they don’t need to be frozen which costs a lot out in the field and raises transport costs
When you collect a specimen, do the animals get hurt?
The animals will be captured with nets or other ways designed to be least painful.
In most cases, all we need for a DNA sample is a small sample of tissue, such as some hair, a feather or a skin sample.
Sometimes a whole specimen is needed in which case, the animal will be euthanized humanely.
When will we be able to bring species back to life?
Technology is increasing at an exponential pace according to Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.
For example, the cost of sequencing the DNA of a single human or animal has decreased from $1 billion to $10,000 and is now approximately $1,000 and will be $1 by approximately 2022.
Who collects the samples?
We use only trained and experienced field technicians who can be university researchers, scientists, conservationists, museum taxonomists and zoologists.
Can I collect samples?
If the species is endangered then most countries do not allow you to touch them.
For non-endangered species you may be allowed, there are various protocols and techniques required to collect usable tissue without harming the animal.
If you are interested in volunteering for field collection please contact your national museum or us.