The last Tasmanian tiger died in captivity at a Hobart zoo in 1936. The species takes its name from the stripes on its back, but is actually a marsupial and is also known as the marsupial wolf.
Tasmanian tiger DNA has been preserved and can now be genetically combined with cells from other animal species. The closest surviving species in terms of DNA to the Tasmanian tiger is a marten. The idea is to modify the cells of the marten so that the creature can become a Tasmanian tiger. Because marsupials are very small at birth, it is even possible for martens to give birth to Tasmanian tiger babies.
“I believe that in ten years we could have our first baby possums since they disappeared from hunting almost a century ago,” said Professor Andrew Pask, who leads the research team at the University of Melbourne. If successful, it would be the first time an extinct species has been “brought back to life”. Several million dollars have been spent on the project.
According to Pask, the project is not just about the Tasmanian tiger, but it will also help protect species that are currently threatened with extinction.
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