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Scientists are trying to genetically resurrect the extinct Tasmanian tiger.

Tasmanian Tiger
Photo: CNN

A team of scientists is trying to “resurrect” the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the only predatory marsupial that went extinct in Australia in 1936, through genetic engineering, one of the project’s people reported Wednesday.

Professor Andrew Pask from the University of Melbourne explained that the project was to extract cells from a mouse-like marsupial fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) and transform them into cells as close as possible to the Tasmanian tiger.

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The scientists aim to take the living cells of the dunnart, considered the closest living relative of the Tasmanian tiger, and compare them with those of the extinct animal to determine their differences.

This will allow them to “edit all of this animal’s DNA to make a thylacine,” Pask, head of the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Laboratory (TIGRR), told Australian public broadcaster ABC.

“At the end of the process, you essentially have a thylacin cell, but you can do some kind of IVF cloning (in vitro fertilization) to develop a living organism,” said the TIGRR expert, who has already developed the tiger’s full genome. Tasmania.

Ten years

Hoping to “resurrect” the Tasmanian tiger in about a decade, the project is also considering developing the embryo of this extinct carnivorous marsupial, either in a test tube or using a fat-tailed dunnart as a surrogate uterus.

“At birth, the fat-tailed tilacin and dunnart are not much larger than a grain of rice, so even an animal as small as a mouse can give birth to a tilasini,” Pask told the magazine. A B C.

Collaborating with US genetic engineering company Colossal Biosciences on this project, scientists at the Pask-led Laboratory plan to introduce the Tasmanian tiger into its natural environment, which they hope will resume its usual predatory habits.

Tasmanian Tiger

The thylacine, a striped marsupial that resembles a tiger on its back, began to inhabit the continent of Australia and the island of New Guinea, although it disappeared from these places outside the island of Tasmania about 3,000 years ago. to climate change.

By the time Europeans arrived in Oceania in the 18th century, its population was concentrated on the island of Tasmania, and its extinction was accelerated by an intense hunting campaign between 1830 and 1909, prompted by bounties to put an end to this predator that ate the animals. .

The Tasmanian tigers went extinct 81 years ago, when the last tiger died at the Hobart Zoo in 1936, despite being officially declared extinct in the 1980s.

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Source: El Nacional

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