Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger from extinction

Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger from extinction

News Analysis   /   Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger from extinction

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Published on: August 20, 2022

Source: CBS 


Scientists in the US and Australia have embarked on a $15-million project to resurrect the Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, a marsupial that went extinct in the 1930s, using gene-editing technology.

About Tasmanian Tiger:

  • Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the only animal in the Thylacinidae family to survive in modern times, was a marsupial mammal that raises young ones in a pouch.
  • Even though the species earned its nickname Tasmanian Tiger because of the stripes along its back, it was a slow-paced carnivorous that usually hunted alone or in pairs at night.
  • The sharply clawed animal had a dog-like head and ate kangaroos, other marsupials, small rodents, and birds.
  • At one time the Thylacine was widespread over continental Australia, extending north to New Guinea and south to Tasmania.

Reasons of Extinction:

The animals were reported to have eaten poultry of farmers, and were killed following official authorisation.

Competition with another animal, the Dingo, is also considered a reason for its extinction.

The resurrection process

Even though the last living thylacine died over 86 years ago, many embryos and young specimens of the species have been preserved.

For the de-extinction project, the scientists will be using a genome sequenced from a DNA extracted from a 108-year-old specimen held at Australia’s Victoria Museum.

De-extinction will not be complete until the success of the rewilding process – reintroducing the animal to its native habitat — which will ‘stabilise the fragile ecosystem of Tasmania.’

Why is it the right choice?

The thylacine is a great candidate for de-extinction because it only went extinct in 1936 due to human hunting and the ecosystem scientists are looking to return it to is still intact.


  • De-extinction, or resurrection biology, reverses plant and animal extinctions by creating new versions of previously lost species.
  • Back-breeding, cloning, and genome editing are species restoration methods.
  • The goal is to re-establish dynamic processes that produce healthy ecosystems and restore biodiversity.

How De-extinction Works through Genome Editing?

  1. Genome editing technology creates hybrids between living and extinct organisms. 
  2. Scientists insert edited DNA from an extinct species into the nucleus of a reproducing cell.
  3. They use this technique to resurrect more species, including those whose remains are not well-preserved.
  4. Genome editing blends the desired traits that made the species unique with genes from the donor species.
  5. That is why the resulting organism is not completely identical to the extinct species but is a hybrid.
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