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Historic first: RNA recovered from extinct Tasmanian tiger

  • The tiger has been housed in a Stockholm museum since 1891
  • Researchers say more RNA breakthroughs could prevent future pandemics
  • RNA carries genetic information it receives from DNA

Three views of the desiccated remains of an extinct marsupial mammal called the Tasmanian tiger, or the thylacine, from a collection at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm are seen in this undated handout image. Emilio Marmol Sanchez/Handout via REUTERS Acquire Licensing Rights

STOCKHOLM (NewsNation) — In a scientific first, researchers said Tuesday they have recovered RNA, genetic material present in all living cells that has structural similarities to DNA, from the desiccated skin and muscle of a Tasmanian tiger from 1891.

The remains of the extinct tiger were being stored in a museum in Stockholm.

The ability to extract, sequence and analyze old RNA could boost efforts by other scientists toward recreating extinct species. Recovering RNA from old viruses also could help decipher the cause of past pandemics, according to Reuters. reports that the de-extinction effort with the Tasmanian tiger was an ideal specimen due to its “natural habitat in Tasmania” being still “mostly preserved.”

DNA is a double-stranded molecule that contains an organism’s genetic code, carrying the genes that give rise to all living things. RNA is a single-stranded molecule that carries genetic information it receives from the DNA, putting this information into practice. RNA synthesizes the panoply of proteins that an organism requires to live and works to regulate cell metabolism.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Science News

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