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Scientists have a plan to restore the Tasmanian tiger

With Science and Technology, anything is possible! Nearly 100 years after extinction, the Tasmanian tiger may be making a comeback. According to CNN, scientists want to revive the striped carnivorous marsupial, officially known as thylacine, that once roamed the Australian bush. Scientist will harness advances in genetics, ancient DNA retrieval and artificial reproduction to bring back animals!

If you’re not familiar with thylacine, it’s comparable to a coyote. This animal disappeared about 2,000 years ago except for the Australian island of Tasmania. As the only modern marsupial apex predator, thylacine plays an important role in its ecology. However, it is not favored by humans.

The last thylacine in captivity, Benjamin, died of exposure in 1936 at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Tasmania.

The major loss occurred shortly after the thylacines were granted protective status. Unfortunately, it’s too late to save the species. Andrew Pask, a professor at the University of Melbourne and head of the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Recovery Research Laboratory, who is leading the initiative, said:

“We would strongly advocate that we need to first protect our biodiversity from further extinction, but unfortunately we don’t see species loss slowing down.”

He continued, “This technology offers an opportunity to correct this and can be applied in special cases where foundation species have been lost.”

The project has a number of heavyweights involved. Reports suggest this is a partnership with Colossal Biosciences, founded by tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm and geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School. The men are currently working on a $15 million project to bring back the woolly mammoth in its altered form.

To bring on the animal is very interesting. The team will build a complex genome of the extinct animal and compare it with the genome of its closest living relative – a rat-sized carnivorous marsupial known as a fat-tailed dunnart – to determine the difference.

“We then take living cells from our clothes and edit their DNA everywhere it differs from thylacine. We are essentially designing our dunnart cell to be a Tasmanian tiger cell,” explains Andrew.

Once the team has successfully programmed a cell, Andrew says that stem cells and reproductive techniques involving dunnarts as substitutes will “turn the cell back into a living animal”. Roommate, what do you think about this?


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