It was once pure folly. An impossibility. But continual advances in science, particularly in the field of genetics, means that we are getting ever closer to raising the iconic Tasmanian Tiger out of extinction. A discovery in a dusty Melbourne cabinet, and advanced plans to resurrect the mammoth, are paving the way.
A special report in the latest issue of leading science publication COSMOS documents the work being done by the University of Melbourne’s Andrew Pask, whose team has now successfully sequenced the entire genome of a thylacine, thanks to the discovery of a four-week-old joey preserved in a different solution to other damaged specimens.
The possibilities of bringing back the Tasmanian Tiger are further advanced by the CRISPR tool, being used by genetic engineers to introduce enzymes which are used by bacteria to target and destroy foreign DNA. This, combined with knowledge from American efforts to revive the mammoth, adds further crucial pieces to the once unlikely puzzle.
The report details what now needs to happen to achieve the ultimate comeback, amid concerns from some quarters that being able to conquer extinction could take away focus and funding from saving species currently facing a similar demise.