A team of scientists from Colossal Biosciencesan American biotechnology company, is planning to resurrect the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), which became extinct in the 1930s.
When still alive, the animal used to be one of the biggest predators inhabiting Australia and the Island of New Guinea for over 2,000 years. Due to intense hunting, the Tasmanian tiger began to disappear. The last survivor died in 1936 at the Beaumaris Zoo in Tasmania. The species was officially declared extinct in the 1980s.
For the restoration, the team of scientists sequenced the genome of the thylacines. Thanks to advances in genetic studies and the emergence of new technologies, the laboratory promises to bring the marsupial through an ancient and preserved DNA, based on artificial reproduction.
“The technology and key learnings from this project will also influence the next generation of marsupial conservation efforts,” says Andrew Pask, a Tasmanian tiger biologist who will lead the research team.
The experiment consists of collecting stem cells from a living species with DNA close to that of the extinct tiger. After this procedure, the team will transform the material into an embryo, which will be transferred to an artificial uterus or to genetically similar animals.
The chief executive of the company Colossal Biosciences believes that the animal can come back to life in less than six years. Andrew Pask, on the other hand, estimates that the project’s first puppies should be born in ten years. “We don’t have a choice. If we lose 50% of the Earth’s biodiversity, we ourselves will be extinct in the next 50 to 100 years”, warned the geneticist, during an interview with the British newspaper. The Guardian.