DNA experiment: In 10 years, Tasmanian tigers should be back on earth

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DNA-ExperimentIn 10 years, Tasmanian tigers are supposed to live on earth again

The last Tasmanian tiger died in a zoo in 1936. Since then, the thylacine has been considered extinct. But now a team of scientists wants to “revive” the predator.

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The Tasmanian tiger is considered extinct. The last of its kind died in a zoo in 1936.

IMAGO/Nature Picture Library

Called a Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped back) or Tasmanian wolf, from Meyers Lexicon, published 1924.

Called a Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped back) or Tasmanian wolf, from Meyers Lexicon, published 1924.

imago images/Classic Vision

  • Researchers aim to revive the Tasmanian tiger.

  • Using DNA from a close relative, they want to create the original animal species.

  • If that succeeds, it would be a historically unique project.

  • The project also has critics, with some calling the endeavor pure science fiction.

Researchers in Australia and the US have launched a multi-million dollar project to save the Tasmanian, which is thought to be extinct Tiger to revive. The team behind the project claim that the species can be recreated using stem cells and genetic engineering, and that the first thylacine could be released into the wild in ten years.

The group of Australian and US scientists plan to take stem cells from a living marsupial species with similar DNA, and then use genetic engineering to ‘bring back’ the extinct species – or a very similar species.

A first young within a decade

«I believe that in ten years we will be the first living cub could have had since they were wiped out almost a century ago,” said Professor Andrew Pask, who leads the research at the University of Melbourne.

If scientists manage to revive the animal, it would be the first de-extinction event in history. Some are quite skeptical about the experimental project. Many experts also doubt the scientific basis, others describe the idea as pure science fiction, writes «BBC».

The idea has existed for more than 20 years

The idea of ​​bringing the Tasmanian tiger back to life has been around for more than 20 years. In 1999 the Australian Museum began a project to clone the animal and since then various attempts have been made periodically to extract or recover viable DNA from specimens.

The latest project is a partnership between Melbourne University scientists and Texas-based company Colossal. The US-based company made headlines last year with its plans to bring the woolly mammoth back to life using similar gene-editing technology — a technological feat that has yet to be accomplished.

Tasmanian tiger/marsupial

The Tasmanian tiger is also called the thylacine. Female marsupials had a pouch that opened backwards and contained four teats. Most of the young were born during the southern hemisphere summer (December to March), the litter size was two to four young. After three months, the young left the pouch, but stayed with their mother until they were almost a year old. Life expectancy has been estimated at a maximum of twelve to fourteen years.

In Tasmania, a bounty was placed on every tiger shot because it was suspected of tearing sheep.

According to National Geographic, species are considered definitively extinct when their range has been extensively searched for surviving specimens and some time has passed.

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