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Only a Temporary Extinction?

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Since late 1999, the Australian Museum has involved in a project unique in this world- the cloning of an extinct species, namely the Tasmanian Tiger. While no living representative of this species has been witnessed since the death of the last one in captivity in 1936, the museum possesses several preserved pups. While the ones that were preserved in formalin are unusable due to the effect of the preservative on the cell structure, there is a female pup that was preserved in ethanol. She is the linchpin of the cloning project, as this allowed intact DNA strands to persist. While the successful replication of individual Tasmanian Tiger genes, as detailed at http://www.austmus.gov.au/thylacine/newsrelease.htm,
does not mean there will be a living representive of the species any time soon, it does mark something singular. For the first time in human history, there is the indication that we may be able to bring back from the darkness of death and total extinction a unique species that was destroyed solely by our hands.

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Your rating: None

Say, hasn't there been considerable talk over the last few decades about some (admittedly shaky) sightings of thylacines in and around Tasmania? Not that I'm not glad to hear this news, but there always seemed to be sme doubt as to whether or not the animal was truly gone.

Your rating: None

There has been many sightings, most of which can be discounted usually as other species (such as a dog) from things like wrong size, wrong motion or wrong markings, but a few have been tantalizing.

So little is known about the animal's diet, social life, territory needs and breeding, it's hard to say if it could survive in modern day Tasmania. There does seem to be some evidence though that it survived past the 1930's, though the best evidence (a footprint) is over 35 years old now.

There have also been sighting in mainland Australia, which may be escaped former captive animals imported from Tasmania.

Animals thought to have been extinct do regularly pop up. This week scientists discovered a rare jungle bird thought to have died out in the 50's is still around.

Melissa "MelSkunk" Drake

Your rating: None

While we can bring back one animal, we can't create a viable species, of course. There won't be any genetic diversity. Far better, for us and the animals, if we'd learn to live with them and preserve their habitats.

Your rating: None

The idea of diversity was discussed in the press conferance I saw. Apparently they have genetic material from several animals.

Melissa "MelSkunk" Drake

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About the author

Sardonicusread storiescontact (login required)

    a veterinary assistant from Los Angeles