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In some animals (like dogs) size seems like it's controlled mostly by just a few genes (IGF1, and the genes that repress it). I'm curious:

(1) Does other miniaturization takes a similar route (for example, with pygmy hippos).

(2) Do we have the technology / knowledge to deliberately create "pygmy" animals?

(3) Is it possible that miniaturization could be a way to protect endangered large species? For example, we shrink them down so they need less room but they could still breed and preserve biodiversity. Also, later on there's always the possibility that we could gradually un-shrink the species if we get our act together and free up more habitat.

Note: I realize that they wouldn't be able to fill the same ecological niche at half the size.

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Its not only the size - these animals fill an ecological niche. So if you shrink, lets say a rhino or an elephant, than they would show up on the "food plan" of big predators. And they would have to compete for food with other animals of that size which eat the same food. – Chris Jan 18 '14 at 18:54
I was thinking more of a zoo or some type of protected area (with predators fenced out). You're right - it would decrease their ability to protect themselves in the wild. I still think it could work though (or at least help). – user228546 Jan 18 '14 at 19:07
If zoos are the right place to maintain a species is disputable. And if you have the animal in a zoo anyways, why not keeping them at their normal size? – Chris Jan 18 '14 at 19:41
Asking 3 questions in one post is the best solution to never get a satisfying answer. I'd suggest you to narrow the focus of your post. You could edit your question (and title) and focus only on the two first points. Then, depending on the answer to this post, you may come up with a second post applying what you acquired through this question to conservation biology with an example maybe. Note: I also don't fully understand why miniaturization would be so helpful at saving endangered species. – Remi.b Jan 18 '14 at 21:03
Species are often also endangered by inbreeding or being outcompeted by similar species. The whole idea of preserving that species thus means "preserving exactly this species, without any changes". Otherwise, one might be able to change hunted species, so they breed more (and thus are less endangered by extinction), species whose environment has changed, so they adapt to the new environment and thus save them this way. Those would not be the original species though, which would still remain endangered. – skymningen Jan 20 '14 at 7:40

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