Sunday, October 2, 2022

Resurrection of the Tasmanian Tiger

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine has been extinct for almost 100 years. Scientists look to bring back the thylacine through the use of gene editing. To accomplish this scientists will look to create a Tasmanian tiger cell by editing the DNA of a cell from its closest relative, the fat-tailed dunnart. This cell will then be nurtured back to a living animal. Segments of the genome are still known, so this new thylacine will not be an exact replica, rather it will be a hybrid species. There is speculation this new species could even survive on its own. This raises the question whether this whole process is worth all the effort, time and money?

This study raises many more concerns that needs to be addressed. There are ethical concerns about the resurrection of a species, environmental concerns about the addition of a new species into an environment. But the potential that this study as well as the study of the resurrection of the woolly mammoth posses are incredible. It is fascinating that the DNA sequence can not only be obtained from a skeleton almost 100 years ago, but also can be encoded into another living cell. I believe this study is completely worth all the resources dedicated to it because it represents an advancement in the study of genetics and life. 



  1. I do think that it would be unethical to resurrect this species, since the world has changed so much since the time they have lived. There would be no way to ensure that the species would survive. However, I think this technology could be put to good use. If it was applied to a species that we know could survive today, then it would be better. The species that came to my mind after reading this is bees. Bees are endangered due to human activity, and we need bees to survive since they are major plant pollinators.

  2. I am familiar with the efforts to resurrect the Thylacine and while the idea is impressive and ambitious I think with our current understanding of genetics we still have a long way to go before this can happen. The fat-tailed dunnart looks a lot different from the thylacine so it will take a long time to edit the DNA to make a Tasmanian Tiger cell and then growing it in lab is a whole other challenge. But the idea is nonetheless still interesting to consider. I do think it would be worthwhile to pursue a study like this and see if thylacines can be brought back. Even if this does not happen for a long time if at all, I'm sure many advances in our technology and understanding of DNA and genes will come about from the efforts.