Friday, May 27, 2022

Trying to Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine)

The is interesting, scientists in Australia are trying to bring back the Tasmanian Tiger in a very unusual way, but it is the same method they are using for the Wooly Mammoth. Note that the Tasmanian Tiger is not a tiger, but a marsupial. Albeit a carnivorous marsupial.*

Last Tasmanian Tiger - died in a zoo in 1936

It is not cloning (which I figured it was). I mean cloning works if the animal is alive and around but never proven on an extinct species.

Instead, these scientists have decoded the Tasmanian Tiger DNA. They are then taking the DNA of the closest species - Dunnart for the Tiger, Elephant for the mammoth, and  then changing the host DNA. Scientist cut and past in the different DNA from the extinct species. A fertilized egg will be implanted into the host species. This should result in a new Tasmanian Tiger. It is as yet unproven.

This DNA splice seems particularly odd in the Tiger case because the Dunnart, its closest relative, is a mouse sized marsupial. But the good thing with marsupials is that their offspring are born super tiny and they finish growing in mom's pouch. Zoos and sanctuaries in Australia already have experience in raising marsupials in an artificial pouch. So I guess we will see if this works. 

Unlike the Wooly Mammoth, the Tasmanian Tiger already has a niche in the ecology of Tasmania. And introduction would make sense to control populations of other animals.

*Interesting side note: The extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger means that the largest marsupial predator is the Tasmanian Devil. Which is really about 2 1/2 feet long and does not twirl into a whorl wind.

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