Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A rare bird not seen for 170 years has turned up in Borneo's South Kalimantan province in Indonesia. robas / Getty Images

In October 2020, two men living in Indonesia's South Kalimantan province on Borneo managed to catch a bird that they had never seen before. They photographed and released it, then sent the pictures to birdwatching organizations in the area for identification.

Read More Show Less

Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.

Read More Show Less
A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice in places such as Greenland could stop a critical ocean current. Paul Souders / Getty Images

The climate crisis could push an important ocean current past a critical tipping point sooner than expected, new research suggests.

Read More Show Less
Yves Adams / Instagram

A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.

Read More Show Less
A gray wolf is seen howling outside in winter. Wolfgang Kaehler / Contributor / Getty Images

Wisconsin will end its controversial wolf hunt early after hunters and trappers killed almost 70 percent of the state's quota in the hunt's first 48 hours.

Read More Show Less
The Milky Way seen from the Izu Peninsula, Japan, on the Pacific Ocean coast. Krzysztof Baranowski / Moment / Getty Images

When you look up at the Milky Way, you may be looking at stars surrounded by planets with oceans like ours.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The numbers of migratory freshwater fish such as salmon have declined 76 percent since 1970. Mike Bons / 500px / Getty Images

The latest warning of the Earth's mounting extinction crisis is coming from its lakes and rivers.

Read More Show Less
Pollution from factories in Estonia in the early 1990s. Bernard Bisson / Sygma via Getty Images

In the late 1980s, scientists noticed something odd. Less of the sun's brightness was reaching Earth's surface, leaving us with a darker planet.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A worker at the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center removes oil from a sea turtle in Mikhmoret, Israel on February 21, 2021. Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty Images

A mysterious oil spill began to wash up on Israel's coast last week, closing beaches and harming wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Photos of alligators engaged in "icing" were posted on Facebook by an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation worker. David Arbour / Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

As unusually cold temperatures descended on the south and central U.S. this week, it wasn't only humans who struggled to adjust.

Read More Show Less
Elizabeth Ann is a black-footed ferret and the first endangered species in the U.S. to be cloned. USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr

In a remarkable first, scientists have cloned a U.S. endangered species.

The clone in question is a black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann, and her lineage could bring much needed genetic diversity to the imperiled species.

"[I]t was a commitment to seeing this species survive that has led to the successful birth of Elizabeth Ann," Ryan Phelan, the executive director of biotechnology conservation nonprofit Revive and Restore, said in a Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) press release. "To see her now thriving ushers in a new era for her species and for conservation-dependent species everywhere. She is a win for biodiversity and for genetic rescue."

 

Elizabeth Ann's birth was a joint effort from FWS, Revive and Restore, ViaGen Pets and Equine, San Diego Zoo Global and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She arrived on Dec. 10, with the birth first announced on Thursday.

The history of the black-footed ferret makes her birth an especially important milestone. The species once lived throughout the U.S. West, FWS recovery coordinator Pete Gober told The New York Times. But their numbers dwindled as their primary prey, prairie dogs, also declined due to habitat loss, poison and disease. At one point, scientists believed the black-footed ferret to be extinct.

"We thought they were gone," Gober told The New York Times.

That changed in 1981, when a ranch dog named Shep dragged one back to his owners' home in Wyoming. However, disease wiped out much of the newly discovered ranch population. The FWS captured 18 ferrets for a breeding program, but all of the ferrets they have bred and released since have come from just seven parents.

That's where Elizabeth Ann fits in. She is a clone of Willa, one of the last wild-caught black-footed ferrets whose genes were never passed on, according to FWS. However, they were preserved by the San Diego Zoo Global's Frozen Zoo in 1988, making Elizabeth Ann's birth possible.

"With these cloning techniques, you can basically freeze time and regenerate those cells," Gober told The Associated Press.

Scientists determined that her genome had triple the unique variations of the current ferret population, meaning that Elizabeth Ann's descendants could play a role in boosting the species' genetic health, according to FWS.

That won't happen right away, The New York Times reported. First, Elizabeth Ann will be joined by other Willa clones, as well as clones of a male named Studbook Number 2. The clones will breed, while their offspring will be interbred with wild ferrets. Scientists need to make sure that none of the mitochondrial DNA from the clones' surrogate mother, a domestic ferret, is passed on.


Cloning, which involves copying the genes of one plant or animal to make a new one, is emerging as a conservation strategy for imperiled species. Viagen, a Texas-based company that helped clone Willa, also cloned a Przewalski's wild horse last summer, The Associated Press reported. The Przewalski is a Mongolian horse species whose population of around 2,000 is descended from only 12 animals.

Cloning could also recover extinct animals. Ben Novak, Revive and Restore's lead scientist, wants to bring back the passenger pigeon, and the nonprofit is also looking into cloning a wooly mammoth. Some conservationists argue that these efforts take funding away from protecting existing species, The New York Times reported. But Novak argued that the genetic technology required for both de-extinction and conservation is the same.

The FWS also noted that it is not abandoning more traditional conservation efforts.

"Successful genetic cloning does not diminish the importance of addressing habitat-based threats to the species or the Service's focus on addressing habitat conservation and management to recover black-footed ferrets," Noreen Walsh, director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie region, said in the press release.