Scientists from Australia and the United States plan to bring back the Tasmanian Tiger, officially known as a thylacine, nearly 100 years after its extinction.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne have partnered with Texas-based Colossal Biosciences in a multi-million dollar project to resurrect the marsupial using cutting-edge technology.
According to the researchers, they will take stem cells from a living marsupial species with similar DNA and use gene-editing technology to turn them into “thylacine” cells — or an extremely close approximation of it.
The marsupial could be reintroduced to the wild in 10 years’ time, according toUniversity of Melbourne Professor Andrew Pask, who is also the head of its Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab.
“We would strongly advocate that first and foremost we need to protect our biodiversity from further extinctions, but unfortunately we are not seeing a slowing down in species loss,” Pask said, as quoted by CNN.
“This technology offers a chance to correct this and could be applied in exceptional circumstances where cornerstone species have been lost,” Pask also said.
If the scientists succeed in resurrecting the marsupial, it would mark the first “de-extinction” event in history.
The thylacine, about the size of a coyote and was Australia’s only marsupial apex predator, once lived across the continent until it disappeared virtually everywhere except on the island of Tasmania.
European colonizers in the 1800s hunted the thylacine to the point of extinction, blaming it for livestock losses.
The last living thylacine in captivity, named Benjamin, died in 1936 at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Tasmania, shortly after being granted protected status. It was officially declared extinct in the 1980s.
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