“Jurassic Park” Redux: Scientists Plan to Resurrect the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger

Joel Eisenberg

In yet another high-profile attempt that would effectively replicate concepts of the popular fiction franchise, a start-up company aims to return another species from extinction.

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Tasmanian TigerAdobe Stock

Author’s Note

This article is free of opinion and bias, and is based solely on science and accredited media reports. No science or morality-based argument is offered herein on the part of the author. All listed theories and facts within this article are fully-attributed to several scientists and media outlets including The New York Times, NPR.com, Daily Beast, Yahoo News, Wikipedia.org, and CNN.com.

Introduction

I recently wrote an article for NewsBreak, entitled “Progress Report: Private Company Seeks to Genetically Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth,” which reported on a similar scientific effort regarding an attempt to resurrect an extinct species.

From the article, which included this excerpt from a New York Times piece on the matter, entitled “A New Company With a Wild Mission: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth”: With $15 million in private funding, Colossal aims to bring thousands of woolly mammoths back to Siberia. Some scientists are deeply skeptical that will happen.

My article went on to state: One of the chief critics behind this effort, Joseph Frederickson, a vertebrate paleontologist and director of the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha, Wisconsin, says he was inspired as a child by the original “Jurassic Park” film. But he believes the more important goal should be preventing rather than reversing extinction. See here for Scott Neuman's NPR piece: "Scientists Say They Could Bring Back Woolly Mammoths. But Maybe They Shouldn't."

Today, similar news hit the press, this time regarding a different animal. In this morning’s Daily Beast, via Yahoo News, among their headlines was included the following: “This Startup Has a Dubious Plan to Resurrect the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger.”

As excerpted from the article: Colossal Biosciences, a biotech and genetic engineering startup co-founded by Harvard geneticist George Church, plans to “de-extinct” the Tasmanian tiger by using gene-editing technology. They hope to reintroduce the creature to its once-native habitats in order to rewild the ecosystems that were damaged after losing the species.

Let us explore further.

Status of the Resurrection of Extinct Species, 2022

Wikipedia features a comprehensive overview of the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, which is said to have last been seen in the 1930’s.

The Wikipedia page states: The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) is an extinct carnivorous marsupial that was native to the Australian mainland and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea. The last known live animal was captured in 1930 in Tasmania. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped lower back) or the Tasmanian wolf (because of its canid-like characteristics). Various Aboriginal Tasmanian names have been recorded, such as coorinna, kanunnah, cab-berr-one-nen-er, loarinna, laoonana, can-nen-ner and lagunta, while kaparuninais used in Palawa kani.

CNN.com elaborates on the current attempts to revive the Tasmanian Tiger, in its piece entitled “Scientists Plan the Resurrection of an Animal That's Been Extinct Since 1936.”

The article states: The ambitious project will harness advances in genetics, ancient DNA retrieval and artificial reproduction to bring back the animal. "We would strongly advocate that first and foremost we need to protect our biodiversity from further extinctions, but unfortunately we are not seeing a slowing down in species loss," said Andrew Pask, a professor at the University of Melbourne and head of its Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab, who is leading the initiative. "This technology offers a chance to correct this and could be applied in exceptional circumstances where cornerstone species have been lost," he added.

Conclusion

As I had also said in my linked NewsBreak Woolly Mammoth article, above, while some in the general public are raising their voices regarding morality issues, geneticists continue to explore the limits of science and technology as it regards experimenting with genetic revival.

In time, the fiction of author Michael Crichton (“Jurassic Park”) may well come to pass. For now, the goal remains.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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