Extinct species: the planned resurrection of the Tasmanian tiger – jigsaw – society

Pictures of the last known Tasmanian tiger, which died at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania in 1936, are world famous. The black and white photos show an elegant and slender animal with a striped pattern. This last supposed or actual specimen died just two months after the species was protected by law. So far, researchers consider that it is unlikely that the animal species survived for a long time in its habitat – the forests of the Australian island of Tasmania. The animals were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1982, and the Tasmanian government followed suit in 1986.

A combination of factors led to this happening at all, all of which can be traced back to the arrival of Europeans in Australia in the 18th century. Because the new settlers cleared forests, brought diseases and soon began a relentless hunt for the Tasmanian tiger, also known as the Tasmanian tiger.

As a carnivore, it was suspected of preying on livestock. So, in 1888, the Tasmanian government introduced a premium of one pound for every Tasmanian tiger caught. In this way, approximately 5,000 animals that were probably still living in Tasmania at the time of European settlement were destroyed. Until now, the Tasmanian tiger – like the dodo or the homing pigeon – is considered a symbol of the extinction of species caused by humans.

Again and again there are reports of sightings

But again and again there are fairly reliable reports of sightings. Whether the Tasmanian tiger actually became extinct in the 1930s or at least in the decades that followed is always a source material for newspaper reports.

The news from Melbourne also caused an uproar in Australia. Researchers from the university there, along with their American colleagues from Colossal Biosciences in Texas, are trying to bring the Tasmanian tiger back to life. The process aims to take stem cells from a living marsupial species with similar DNA – the narrow-footed marsupial mouse. The team then hopes to reconstruct the Tasmanian tiger using stem cells and a gene-editing technology called gene scissors. The new project is made possible thanks to a donation of millions of dollars.

Australia and Tasmania are home to many species of native animals.Photo: AFP

The team is optimistic, having already sequenced the genome of a juvenile sample held by Museums Victoria. The result, Andrew Pask, who leads the research at the University of Melbourne, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “a complete plan to build a Tasmanian tiger.” “I believe within ten years we will be able to have our first living tiger,” the researcher was quoted as saying in a press release. According to the team, the ultimate goal is to resettle the Tasmanian tigers back into Tasmania at some point. However, many experts reacted with skepticism to the Melbourne Declaration, calling the “rebirth” of animals “science fiction”. Jeremy Austin of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA told the Sydney Morning Herald that bringing extinct animals back to life is “a science fiction”. In his view, the project is “more about getting media attention for scientists than about practicing serious science.”

So far, science has failed to “return” extinct animals

Corey Bradshaw, an ecologist at Flinders University in South Australia, believes the project is unlikely to be successful. Even if the animals could be revived in the lab – even if he doubts – he doesn’t think scientists will be able to breed thousands of samples with enough genetic diversity. However, the latter would be necessary to create a healthy population of Tasmanian tigers, he said in an interview with The Guardian.

In fact, science has so far failed to “return” extinct animals. Similar attempts to revive the woolly mammoth have so far been unsuccessful. Also in the case of the Tasmanian tiger, trials over the past 20 years have not been successful. The Australian Museum attempted to clone the animals. The project was discontinued in 2005.

Leave a Comment