So, some extinct species. Say, Neandertals. Or mammoths, whatever. We do the Jurassic Park thing, revive them.
So, Matt Ridley, Red Queen stuff.
Don’t they just get wiped out again, near immediately? For the bacteria, virii, bugs and parasites have been evolving these millennia. And the immune systems of those revived have, by definition, not.
Also, time travel won’t work because anyone who travels into the future will drown in their own snot as the then modern cold gets a grip….
That is, our immune systems are the products of a time and place and won’t work well elsewhere or elsewhen.
Good question. But the proposal for mammoths is insert mammoth dna in an elephant egg and get half a mammoth. Again, and three quarters mammoth, etc. Presumably some immunity acquired from original elephant? Also bugs and host evolve together, so no mammoths, no mammoth bug evolution.
But if we get to the point of time travel–we should be able to sort out an immune system.
Mammoths were still surviving on Wrangel Island north of the Bering Straits until a couple of millenia ago, so not many generations ago. They lived in herds and therefore must have evolved immune systems to provide herd immunity to contagion. If one successfully cloned one and used amodern elephant to carry it through a normal gestation and then suckle it, it would be protected from viruses to which the mother was immune while its own immune system developed so perfectly feasible.
Neanderthals are not extinct in that every person on earth with origins outside subSaharan Africa carries a couple of percent of their genes whose survival indicates they are of some use to get this far. Neanderthals never formed colonies large enough to keepinfectious disease circulating so I guess never went through intense selection pressure settled Homo sapiens did when we became agriculturalists.
I hadn’t really thought about it but presumably Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were safe because all the dino pathogens had long since died out.
There are two things. Evolution, which works slowly, much much more slowly in mammals than in the pathogens it has to react to. You have pretty much the same immune system as Neanderthals would have done. In fact, a pretty similar immune system to mammoths.
The second thing is that your immunity to stuff is a product of _your_ exposure in the past, especially when you were knee high. Much, much, much, more a product of your personal individual, lifetime exposure than selective pressure of specific infections on those who didn’t become ancestors.
A closer analogy for Coronavirus would be European settlers taking lurgis to the New World, not than reinarnating Neanderthals. They’d probably do fine in terms of immunity if you could reincarnate them.
Not much of a story though. Time Machine takes scientist to the future, he dies two days later.
But in a way, the proper H G Wells story, The War of the Worlds (not the BBC abomination) touched on this.
The Martians die of Earth diseases. Humans are masters of the planet, by virtue of millions of years of evolution.
But only in this generation, one can add.
A related issue for this reincarnation business – gut microbiota. Turn out you need a well-functioning ecosystem down there. I imagine cloned mammoths and neanderthals could get away with picking up elephant and human ones (?) but not sure what you would do about something as old as the dinosaurs (though I doubt they’re practically clonable anyway due to DNA degradation in any samples).
The plural of virus in English is viruses. It has no attested plural in Latin. See https://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-1540.html
Not all extinctions are caused by disease. The dodo was eaten to extinction.
“The second thing is that your immunity to stuff is a product of _your_ exposure in the past, especially when you were knee high. Much, much, much, more a product of your personal individual, lifetime exposure than selective pressure of specific infections on those who didn’t become ancestors.”
I was listening to someone thinking out loud that as she spent all her time flying from country to country, all over the world, she wondered if all those little infections and bugs she picked up had strengthened her immune system and if this would help should she get the Coronavirus. Seemed plausible to me, is there anything in it?
Probably no great problem with Neanderthal immune systems in the modern world.
There are two different systems: innate and adaptive. The innate system consists of lymphocytes that recognise rather non-specifically the sort of things that are generally found in pathogens, and destroy them even if there has been no previous exposure to the pathogen. The adaptive system consists of lymphocytes which, as they develop, shuffle around parts of. their DNA to create new genes, which may or may not produce proteins that recognise specific pathogens. If they don’t, too bad. If they do, the act of recognition causes those cells to multiply. enormously, making (among other things) antibodies released into the blood, which destroy the specific pathogens.
Now, everybody, H. sapiens or H. neanderthalis, had at birth no functioning adaptive system, but had to form one after encountering diseases: and there is no reason to suppose that the Neanderthal system was any worse in producing specific antibodies after exposure to pathogens.
But a very interesting thing about the innate system is that, if you look at the genes for its components in modern Europeans, Asians and their descendants, a surprisingly high proportion are in fact of Neanderthal origin. It looks as if H. sapiens, coming out of Africa, had innate systems that were not particularly well attuned to Eurasian pathogens: hence, in the descendants of sapiens-neanderthal hybrids, strong selection for the Neanderthal version.
So, a resurrected Neanderthal should have no problems with the adaptive system, and would probably do well with the innate system as long as it kept out of Africa.
Wouldn’t work for the early adopters maybe, but if you can figure out time travel, immune system shouldna be beyond the pale within a few expeditions. Take prophylactics or comeback and get treated.
another idle thought – why aren’t NHS hospitals prefixed with HMH?
Thats rather what happened when the West reached the New World and the other way round with Africa .Living in India remained a struggle hence those pristine bungalows hiding on the hills. You only have to go on holiday and it will take a while to acclimatise to the local bacteria.
BiND, dunno. The set of people who fly around the world a lot is already highly selected for general good health, so good luck in teasing the various factors apart.
My thoughts, and this is getting deep into crystal ball territory, are that as containment is obviously not feasible, this will become one of those other background influenza-like illnesses we all get, we will have to live with it for a long time (centuries, like ‘flu), there will probably not be an effective vaccine available, and it will end up being about as dangerous as ‘flu, after the first initial shock, in which it is probably about 3 times deadlier than ‘flu (not the 30 times deadlier the stupid comparison of “with” fatalities to confirmed positive cases gives). In future it will not occur to anyone to distinguish which of various uncontainable viruses is finishing off the half a million old folks a year that bog-standard ‘flu currently finishes off.
Time travel is obvious bollocks because the Earth is, unhelpfully, whizzing around a star at 30 km/s, and the star is whirling about the galaxy at 230 km/s, and the galaxy is clipping through space at an alarming rate while space itself stretches and expands like Diane Abbott’s lycra buffet trousers.
Travel back to 1955 and you’ll instantly die in the cold and unforgiving vacuum, doomed to orbit the galactic centre for quadrillions of years or until GRR Martin releases his next dragon erotica.
Pneumie – Good to know that somewhere has pristine bungalows.
“another idle thought – why aren’t NHS hospitals prefixed with HMH?”
Probably because the first ones they owned were forcibly expropriated from charities and private business. Also Labour.
Late night here in Aus, so time to cuddle up to my little red headed Neanderthal.
A mammoth specific pathogen would die out with the mammoths, unless it was anthrax X x and could stay in the soil for millennia. The risk to reincarnated mammoths would be from pathogens jumping species, just as Wuhan flu is initially more deadly than standard flu.
Disease, habitat, food/digestion. All questions.
All we can do is speculate. We won’t know til we try it.
I am of the mind to leave the dead buried.
We know there were Neanderthals living on Gibraltar ‘only’ 25,000 years ago (little has changed since, some may think). It’s an interesting thought experiment to contemplate how society would be changed if we had two extant human species coexisting.
In practice, it probably couldn’t happen because H sapiens and H neanderthalensis could (and did) interbreed – Neanderthals didn’t become extinct, their DNA is still around as a few percent of ours.
Why would you want to revive mammoths. Surely we can breed something large, furry and horny starting from animals, deer perhaps, that we already have. You just have to look what’s been achieved with dogs. And why revive neanderthals when you can breed the characteristics required by mixing a G.Brown sized welfare state with Scousers.
The scientists could be better used offering no questions asked gene therapies.
I am of the mind to leave the dead buried
Yes, who needs massive herds of Mammoths crapping all over the place? Weird that ecoloons rage against ruminants such as sheep but want to bring back creatures 20-50 times their mass.
bloke in germany ; best answer
stephen ; best elaborate answer
While your atoms are time travelling, they are subject to the the laws of physics just as they would normally be, including stuff like gravity, inertia and the nuclear forces. They stay where they are in the local reference frame, unless some massive solid object decides to occupy the same coordinates during transit.