Can Ancient and Modern Species Interbreed?

Take the very ancient coelocanth fish (it is a survivor from about 100 miilion years ago)-couldit be interbred with a modern fish species? Is the DNA too different to allow a hybrid to be produced?
How about plants,a really ancient tree (like the ginko) might have some worthwhile characteristics…could its genes be splicedin to those of a more modern tree? All of these survivors from the past must be something special…perhaps they have some genetic advantage that has allowed them to stay around?
Has anything been done with those ancient bacteria species that have been found in amber? I washoping that something deadly might emerge from some scientist’s lab" “500 million year old bacteria found deadly to humans!”. :eek:

as to your initial question, a useful definition of “species” refers to the ability to reproduce. Those individuals that can successfully mate are said to be in the same species. Ergo, no, you can’t cross two species. (yes, yes, I know…there are a handful of exceptions). And why would we want to splice ancient genes into an extant species? As you suggested, life on earth today is the winners. What would be the point?

Well, in general , you are right CC , but some close species can interbreed. Wolf & dog, Horse & jackass, etc.

OP- are you asking if a coelocanth from 100 millions year ago could breed with a modern coelocanth?

Yes, genes could be spliced. They are hoping to splice wooly Mammoth genes onto an elephant, and thus bring back a mammoth.

Seems doubtful to me. I assume bacterias must be somehow adapted to their host. Since there wasn’t even a mammal around 500 million years ago, I would suspect it’s very unlikely.

But the Latimeria chalumnae (coelacanth) IS a modern species. I don’t believe that it is even in the same family as any Cretaceous fish.

Most of the “living fossils” have a conservative morphology because they live in fairly stable (and small) niches. Their genetic complement gives them the tools needed to live in the specific environments where they live. If they had any magic genes which would allow them to exploit other niches they would be all over the damn place instead of tucked away in fringe biospaces.

Well, there have been certain species destroyed by humanity and/or earth-changes that didn’t really have anything to do with whether or not the creatures were worthy or not (or at least, should a similar fate befall us in these times, we’d all be gone too). Just like breeding dogs to get certain traits, maybe someone would want to breed their fish with one of those long-named things with the crazy fangs and armor plating to rule the sea (Megalodon?).

I thought wolves and dogs were both Canis Lupus. The wolf is IIRC Canis Lupus Lupus. The dog is Canis Lupus Familiaris.

Only species which are very closely related can interbreed and produce hybrid offspring (which are usually sterile). The coelacanth has no surviving, close relatives. That’s the point of the “living fossil” designation–the coelacanth is the only survivor of a class whose other members all died out long ago. Because of this absence of close relatives, the coelacanth would be just about dead last out of all species in hybridization potential.

No. The coelocanth fish lived 100 million years ago. They can’t breed with modern fish. – They’re all dead.

That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange eons even death may die.

Those species that died out are no different from any other species that became extinct because they could not adapt to environmental circumstances, be they meteorological or biological. We are simply another species in the large scheme of things, and animals and plants that have become extinct as a result of our behavior are no different from those who became extinct because of excess predation. While relatively larger and faster, the changes we’ve made in the environment can be compared, in terms of evolution, to any other changes that living things have caused. “Worthy” is not a term that is used much by scientists, as it implies a judgment. Fact is, living things tend to go on living if they can. If pressures exceed ability to procreate fast enough, they die out.

No one considers bats or ants to be “living fossils” although, morphologically, living species are indisinguishable to the laymen from the earliest fosil species.

General failure of a type seems to be a requisite to be noticed as a “living fossil”.

I can’t believe I missed that part of Chairman Pow’s post.

While I feel strongly that we must all be careful to minimize our impact on the environment, the overwhelming majority of extinct species had died out before Homo sapiens sapiens showed up. IANA biologist, zoologist, or paleontologist but off the toppa my hed- Devonian mass extinction, Cambrian mass extinction, I think there are three or four more mass extinctions. Yes, we’ve eliminated the wooly mammoth, dodo, great auk, quagga, and Tasmanian wolf among others. But most extinctions happened before our ancestors discovered how to make fire.

Re Megalodon

Carcharodon megalodon No scales, just a really big shark. There is some speculation (largely regarded as founded on a faulty analysis of evidence, and thought of as the aquatic equivalent of bigfoot) that megalodon may not be extinct.

I don’t have a cite (I can search my bookshelves and the web if you really want one), but many of the changes in bats are thought to have been in soft tissues (ears, noses, tail membranes etc) which don’t last long. The bones may look the same, but it’s impossible to say that a complete specimen would.

“Lumpers” vs “Splitters”.

There are huge numbers of animals of different species and even different genera that are quite capable of hybridising and producing fertile offspring. Sterile hybrids between animals in different families aren’t unknown. Wolves and coyotes and cattle and bison are two of the better examples familiar to most people. The simple ability to successfully mate does not and never has placed two organisms in the same species or even the same family.

And that probably goes some way to answering the question. We know that animals that have been separated for millions or tens of millions of years can successfully hybridise. That also tells us that there is no inherent barrier that would prevent any putative ancient species form hybridising with the modern, since the descendants are still fertile.

But having said that Ralph your question leads me to think you don’t quite understand the way taxonomy and evolution work. The Coelacanth hasn’t just stood still in time for a billion years or whatever. It’s as different from the lobe finned fished then as a goldfish is. It may share a lot of gross characteristics in common, but it is also very different.

Seems doubtful to me. I assume bacterias must be somehow adapted to their host. Since there wasn’t even a mammal around 500 million years ago, I would suspect it’s very unlikely./quote]

To nitpick, the plural is either bacteria or bacteriums.

Anyway you should relaise that there’s no need for a microbe to have a mmalian ost, or even to be aothogen for it to be deadly. The bug repsonsible for tetanus proves that. It’s an accidental pathogen that just happens to be lethl to humans because it’s inbuilt antibiotic also happens to be an anti-animal agent as well.