Resurrecting the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger from Preserved DNA

25 05 2008

The last Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), a female about 12 years old, which died in 1936.

The Tasmanian Tiger was wiped out decades ago, but some scientists from Australia have a mad plan to resurrect the wolf-like marsupials and reintroduce them to their original habitat. We may still be decades away from Jurassic Park, but these researchers did successfully implant Tasmanian Tiger DNA into a mouse and got some of the genes to express themselves. That’s a major first. So will we be using mice to breed a new race of Tasmanian Tigers?

A few photos and some specimens preserved in alcohol are all that remain of the Tasmanian Tiger – it was hunted to extinction early in the 20th century. Those alcohol-preserved bodies had enough DNA for the scientists to recover. They injected a few genes for cartilage development into mouse embryos, and the genes functioned, basically taking the place of the mouse genes that usually serve that function. It gave the researchers a new look into the genetics of a vanished species.

Pulling usable DNA from a fossilized bone or egg is a far cry from a preserved specimen, so species that were wiped out thousands or millions of years ago are going to be a little harder to bring back. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the Tasmanian Tiger project – is it even possible to bring back a living Tasmanian Tiger? And if it is possible, is it really something we should do? Even if the extinction was brought about by humans, I think the law of unintended consequences is going to bite us in the ass if we go too far down this road. Still, I’d be first in line to ride the automated SUV past the T-Rex enclosure.

Image by: Universal Pictures.




5 responses

26 06 2010
Fill drummond


23 09 2010

are they stupid

10 10 2010

I’m actually considering both sides. If they are extinct, is that how God wanted them to be? I don’t think so, because they have become extinct from hunting/poaching- so maybe God didn’t in fact want them extinct, and as a way of life the wild took its on decision. But say if we did bring them back, a whole race of Tasmanian tigers would come back, bringing the species to existence. That would be massive DNA history into perspective, and people might get angry. Is it bad to bring back these beautiful animals from the dead? Think about if dodos were brought back to life. The world wouldn’t be the same again because we all know dodos don’t exist, they were at one point in our universe but now they aren’t and we can live with that. What do we have to gain from bringing Tasmanian tigers back? We need to save the species that are still alive and very threatened, such as the Amur leopard, with maybe only 30 left in the wild. Though you could also think if they brought back Tasmanian tigers, there would be another species on this planet, this would be a chance to prove we can do phenomenal things that some people on this planet have never even thought would be possible.
Read this and consider for yourself. What’s the right thing to do?

M. Aged 12. Written 10th of October 2010.

18 11 2010
Tiger Eater

I think we should clone them so I can hunt them and eat them.

19 11 2010


God does not exist.
your parents are lying to you.

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