Tasmanian Tiger

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    • Recently, the Texas-based biotechnology company Colossal announced their plans to use genetic engineering to recreate the Tasmanian Tiger and return it to the Arctic tundra, its original natural habitat. 

    About Tasmanian Tiger

    • History:
      • The animal went extinct in the 1930s and was native to the island of Tasmania, where it had lived for around 2 million years.
    • Other names:
      • Thylacine, A dingo with a pouch” or “a dog with a pouch”.
      • Its DNA also has a lot in common with the kangaroo. 
    • Major threats and challenges: 
      • Humans have been blamed for the animal’s extinction, especially after a bounty program was instituted in Tasmania to protect sheep and other animals.
      • The population today would be very susceptible to diseases, and would not be very healthy.
      • Conservationists point out those resources could be better spent conserving species currently alive at a time when more than 1 million species are at risk of going extinct.
    • Significance:
      • Rebuild biodiversity: Scientists hope that establishing populations of animals like the Tasmanian tiger and woolly mammoth can help rebuild biodiversity. 
      • Human guilt: It’s hard to ignore that de-extinction projects are driven in part by human guilt for having caused many of these species to die out in the first place. 
      • Technology: One of the benefits of de-extinction is that technologies for bringing back animals that died out are also being used in conservation projects to boost the numbers of critically endangered animals. 
    • Other targeted species:
      • Target species include the Aurochs, the ox-like animal depicted in the Lascaux cave paintings. 

     

    Do you know?

    • In 2020, the first clone of Przewalski’s horse was born at San Diego Zoo
    • The species is extinct in the wild and the 2,000 remaining individuals in zoos and reserves descend from only 12 wild ancestors. 
    • Such restricted breeding means the species is at risk of low genetic diversity, harming the chances of survival if rewilded. 

    How would the animals be created?

    • The scientists will work with stem cells taken from the closest related living species, the fat-tailed dunnart, which they plan to convert to those of a Tasmanian tiger by using gene-editing technologies. 
      • Colossal plans to essentially create a hybrid animal with many of the characteristics of a Tasmanian tiger.
    • If the conversion works, the stem cells can then be made into an embryo, which can either be grown in a lab or transferred to a surrogate dunnart mother. 

    Source: IE