Melbourne | A genetic fragment of Australia’s extinct Tasmanian tiger has been successfully brought back to life by Melbourne researchers.
Dr Seymour Walbert and Professor Julia Svenmaker from the University of Melbourne have inserted part of a gene involved in bone growth from the fabled animal into the Tasmanian Devil, a genetically close relative.
“This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism” says Dr Walbert, at the Department of Zoology. “No one has done this in a living organism before.”
“No one has done this in a living organism before” says Dr. Walbert
Despite the latest results, Professor Svenmaker admits it is “highly unlikely” that the entire animal can be resurrected in this way.
“Even though this is a successful technological breakthrough, there may be 20 years separating us from being able to reproduce a living species of the extinct animal”, claims the specialist. “But this is the closest we’ve ever been to bringing back strands of DNA into a living fetus, which is extremely encouraging for the future”.
The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a large, meat-eating native Australian marsupial that was hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 1900s. The last-known animal died in captivity in the Hobart Zoo in 1936.