Dallas scientists could bring the extinct Tasmanian tiger back to life

Nearly 100 years after its extinction, the Tasmanian tiger—officially known as the Thylacine—might soon have a second chance at life. Colossal Biosciences, a Dallas genetic engineering outfit that bills itself as a “de-extinction company,” announced that it is partnering up with the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab at the University of Melbourne in Australia to work on resurrecting the thylacine,” a beloved Australian marsupial that was eradicated by human hunting.”

Professor Andrew Pask, who is leading the research from the University of Melbourne, says his lab says has already assembled the first complete genome of the animal using DNA from thylacines that had been preserved in alcohol. Pask claims the marsupial species could potentially be recreated using gene editing technology and could be reintroduced to the wild within the next decade.

“The Tasmanian tiger is iconic in Australian culture,” Pask said a news release. “We’re excited to be part of this team in bringing back this unique, cornerstone species that mankind previously eradicated from the planet.”

The species, called the Tasmanian tiger due to its distinct dark stripes along its back, was once native to the Australian island state where it gets its commonly used name, as well as the Australian mainland and New Guinea. Experts estimate that there were around 5,000 thylacines in Tasmania during the time of European settlement. However, due to a combination of excessive hunting, habitat destruction, and introduced disease, the animal quickly died out during the early 20th century, according to the National Museum of Australia.

Tasmanian tigers were featured at the National Zoo in Washington, DC during the early 1900s, and the last captive Tasmanian tiger, named Benjamin, died in 1936 from exposure while living at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart just two months after the species was granted protected status . However, many embryos and young specimens of the creature have been preserved, according to Colossal Biosciences.

This is the not the first extinct animal Colossal Biosciences has announced plans to revive. The company, which lists Australian actors Chris and Liam Hemsworth as “like-minded impact investors,” says its “landmark de-extinction project” will be the resurrection of the woolly mammoth Or, more specifically, “a cold-resistant elephant with all of the core biological traits of the woolly mammoth.”

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