The Xerces Blue butterfly became infamous in the early 1940s as the first butterfly to become extinct in North America. The California Condor became extinct in the wild in 1987.
But conservationists were able to draw on a modern resource – museum genomics: extracting DNA from specimens held in natural history collections to provide vital information on genetic identity. And, as Barry Thomson of West Valley College, California, describes, both the butterflies and the condors were brought back from extinction. In May this year California Condors were released in Redwood National Park in Northern California, on the territorial land of the Yurok tribe.
Barry Thomson from South Ronaldsay studied Tropical Environmental Science at Aberdeen University, and then took a Masters degree in Tropical Soils and Sustainable Land Management at Newcastle. He worked for four years as a naturalist guide in the Ecuadorian Amazon before moving in 2022 to California where he teaches at West Valley College and Cañada College.
This online event is free and will be streamed through the Science Festival’s YouTube channel, through a link which will be posted up here in advance.