Resurrecting an Extinct Tasmanian Tiger [Study]
The 48-year-old professor of bioscience, Andrew Pask, promises to lead a team of scientists to do what humans have never done before; and that is to bring an extinct creature back to life.
The Tasmanian tiger was brought from the brink of extinction
(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/ via Getty Images)
The thylacine, which was native to Australia and Papua New Guinea, disappeared from the continent and its northern neighbor more than 2,000 years ago, according to Aljazeera.
Some have attributed its extinction to the arrival of the dingo, some other top predators, but others disagree.
In July 1936, the Tasmanian government finally declared the thylacine a protected species, but it was far too late.
The last known living thylacine died a few months later at the now defunct Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart’s city centre.
She was the unfortunate victim of cruel neglect.
At the turn of the century, Australian paleontologist Mike Archer made headlines worldwide when he announced that he had extracted DNA from a preserved thylacine specimen, a seemingly extraordinary feat for the time, and that he had identified a Tassie tiger in just ten years would produce.
Needless to say, it didn’t happen on a $30,000 budget and the discovery that thylacine DNA was contaminated with human DNA didn’t help.
The same sentiments are echoed by those responsible for the latest eradication venture, Professor Andrew Pask of the University of Melbourne, and his collaborator and backer, the US biotech and genetic engineering company Colossal.
Pask reached a watershed moment in 2008.
In a world first, he and his team succeeded in resurrecting an extinct thylacine’s DNA fragment.
They made it visible by trying to insert it into a mouse embryo by altering the rodent’s genome.
They plan to modify the genome of a fat-tailed dunnart to bring back an entire thylacine, not just a piece of its DNA.
Pask seems fairly confident that his group will be able to generate a genetically engineered thylacine cell within the next ten years, but he believed it could be decades before such a thylacine is born, let alone released into the wild .
Also read: Animal extinction can potentially wipe out existing species
Ways to exterminate animals
De-extinction is indeed the process of reviving extinct species through the use of biotechnology.
There are several methods to resurrect extinct animals, such as by amino laboratories.
Some of the methods used to save endangered species can also be used to bring back extinct animals.
Cloning is the process of replicating cells. In other words, creating a genetically identical cell from a reference cell.
One limitation of this technique is that it necessitates the use of closely related existing animals. Another limitation is that extinct animals’ genomes must have been preserved over time.
Bucardo, a mountain goat, became the first species to be successfully eradicated in 2003. Unfortunately, the animal died seven minutes after birth due to a lung defect.
Bringing back one bucardo from extinction was a difficult task.
Genome editing is the process of recreating extinct species by modifying the genome of a closely related species using the genome of the extinct species.
Advanced biotechnology, such as CRISPR-cas9, can be used. However, CRISPR cannot edit every location of a genome.
In reality, the insertion of multiple DNA sequences is a difficult and error-prone process.
Related article: Animal resurrection: can a bioscience firm bring extinct woolly mammoth back to life?
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