Scientists to bring Tasmanian tiger back to life in 10 years

Science News

(NewsNation) — Scientists heading the biotechnology “de-extinction” company Colossal announced plans to bring the thylacine (also known as the Tasmanian tiger) back from extinction Tuesday.

Founded by George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and Ben Lamm, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, Colossal plans to pull off the feat by using gene editing technology. The scientists will take stem cells from the fat-tailed dunnart, which has similar DNA to the extinct predator, and turn them into thylacine cells.

“Colossal is excited to provide the necessary genetic editing technology and computational biology to bring this project, and the thylacine, to life,” Church said in a press release. “It’s an incredible collaboration and project with far-reaching benefits for animal conservation efforts at large.”

While the two have previously tried this process before with the extinct woolly mammoth, the $5 million philanthropic gift to open a thylacine genetic restoration lab earlier this year has given them a push in the right direction.

Native to Australia and restricted to Tasmania about 3,000 years ago, the dog-like marsupial was wiped out by bounty hunters, with the last known animal dying in captivity in the Hobart Zoo.

If successful, their plan is to reintroduce the species on private Tasmanian land and eventually into the wild. The belief is that the first joeys could be born in 10 years.

“Of all the species proposed for de-extinction, the thylacine has arguably the most compelling case. The Tasmanian habitat has remained largely unchanged, providing the perfect environment to re-introduce the thylacine and it is very likely its reintroduction would be beneficial for the whole ecosystem,” Professor Pask, from the School of BioSience at the University of Melbourne, said during the charitable donation.

“Given the fact that we have the technologies to do it, we have the DNA to do it, we can un-do this wrong, and we can help out with the ecosystem-restoration. It’s really a good candidate for de-extinction.” Lamm said on NewsNation’s “Prime.”

Critics warn that reintroducing the world to its past could quickly be impossible to regulate. However, Lamm promises that their endeavor will only resurrect species that will benefit the world’s ecosystem.

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