The Tasmanian Tiger was wiped out decades ago, but some scientists from Australia have a mad plan to resurrect the wolf-like marsupials and reintroduce them to their original habitat. We may still be decades away from Jurassic Park, but these researchers did successfully implant Tasmanian Tiger DNA into a mouse and got some of the genes to express themselves. That's a major first. So will we be using mice to breed a new race of Tasmanian Tigers?
A few photos and some specimens preserved in alcohol are all that remain of the Tasmanian Tiger - it was hunted to extinction early in the 20th century. Those alcohol-preserved bodies had enough DNA for the scientists to recover. They injected a few genes for cartilage development into mouse embryos, and the genes functioned, basically taking the place of the mouse genes that usually serve that function. It gave the researchers a new look into the genetics of a vanished species.
Pulling usable DNA from a fossilized bone or egg is a far cry from a preserved specimen, so species that were wiped out thousands or millions of years ago are going to be a little harder to bring back. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the Tasmanian Tiger project - is it even possible to bring back a living Tasmanian Tiger? And if it is possible, is it really something we should do? Even if the extinction was brought about by humans, I think the law of unintended consequences is going to bite us in the ass if we go too far down this road. Still, I'd be first in line to ride the automated SUV past the T-Rex enclosure. Image by: Universal Pictures.
Tasmanian tiger DNA 'resurrected'. [BBC News]