First draft 4/12/21
One of the great tragedies of our age is that Human presence and activities are having
ecologically catastrophic effects on the biosphere. We have entered into a situation in which
habitat loss, pollution and climate change are killing not just individual creatures, but causing
many species to become extinct.
Ecologists have dubbed our age the sixth great extinction event in the history of our planet.
But we have the technological capacity now to save all endangered species , not for ourselves,
but for future generations.
This would be the genetic preservation project which would have as its goal to record the DNA
code of every threatened or endangered species of plant or animal, and preserve it in the
Ozymandias Time capsule (detailed in the first version of the Ozymandias Project).
This would mean that no species we could sequence, (before it became impossible to get an
intact DNA sample), need be lost forever.
The original Ozymandias Project which was formulated in 1991 had as its goal the preservation
of all the worlds literature art and music, in case our current world civilization collapsed.
All of our culture would be digitalized and placed in a physical medium that could preserve it in
detail, and intact, for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, awaiting the arrival of a new
advanced technological civilization. (See the Ozymandias Project main page for a detailed
description of how this can be done, and why the data can be preserved perfectly.
Since this was conceived, another technological possibility has opened up which extends the
range of the Project into the biological. Since The DNA code which specifies the construction of
many species (including Humans) has been completely sequenced, this information could be
formatted in the way the rest of the Project would be, and saved in the same way.
There are already genetic librarys in place but they contain actual physical DNA samples (usually
in the form of seeds), but these degrade over time, especially if, as may well be the case, our
civilization falls, and there is no maintanence (and no cooling) possible.
There are also some digital DNA libraries which store the code of an organism itself. These are used for research purposes, and to identify species, (most often bacteria). However they are not stored in a form intended to last millennia.
In fact, most current DNA data is stored on conventional Hard Drives or optical discs which degrade after a decade.
The DNA code could be stored in a way that it would not degrade at all, it could last hundreds of
thousands, or millions of years intact, and the code for all the species could fit into a shoebox
with current technology. (See Ozymandias project, for justification of this claim).
The preservation of the code, can be done now with current technology, and the reconstruction
of a vanished creature can be done, (and is, in fact, planed) for select species. Currently they are
debating ethical issues involved with a proposal to use preserved mammoth DNA to recreate the
species by inserting this DNA into an elephant egg cell nucleus (displacing the original DNA),
and then implanting the egg in an elephant to act as the surrogate mother. The result would be
the first living mammoth for 3,500 years.
So its already within our power to recreate extinct species, all you need is their (physical) DNA.
but the code itself , just the AGTC nucleotide sequence will soon be enough to create an
Since, in the far future you cannot count on most species you would want to recreate having close
living relatives (as in the case of mammoths and elephants), our decedents would have to have
sufficiently advanced bio-technology to recreate most species from scratch, but this is something
we are fairly close to achieving in our technology, and provably will have in a hundred years or
so if we progress at the current rate)
In practice, it would make the most sense to start with endangered species, and then complete the
library of species with less at risk ones. The goal would be to sequence every known species
(there are several million species of insects alone). This is not impossible, a concentrated effort
over several decades could accomplish it, and the result would be a digital library which could be
preserved for tens or hundreds of thousands of years and then recreated by a technological
civilization that follows ours.
It would mean that the current wave of extinction could be prevented from actually wiping out
many unique and wonderful species permanently.
If there are no elephants or giraffes on earth a hundred years from now, there could be 50,000
years from now.
This is not to suggest that we should stop trying to save the species we have now from extinction,
the loss of life is tragic and for our children and grandchildren to never see an elephant or a
rhinoceros is to cheat them of something of inestimable value.
The genetic library of species, placed in a time capsule is an insurance policy, based on the
understanding that such a loss need not be final.