The return of the Tasmanian tiger

EPA/MARK GRAHAM

Conservator Patrya Kay shows off the head of a 3,000 year old mummified Thylacine, more commonly known as a Tasmanian Tiger, on display at the National Museum in Canberra, Australia, 18 June 2004.

The return of the Tasmanian tiger


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The last Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) died in captivity nearly a century ago. Now, a team of Australian biologists believes the animal could be brought back to life.

As reported by ABC News online, hope for the rebirth of the tiger – a striped marsupial wolf – lies in the murky depths of a museum specimen jar, where a six-month-old thylacine pup has sat preserved in alcohol since 1866.

Australian Museum director Mike Archer said he knew 15 years ago the specimen held the key to the return of the tiger, but it was not until Dolly the sheep was cloned in Scotland in 1997 that technology caught up with his dream.

“It became a matter of not if, but when,” Archer said.

In April, small samples of heart, liver, muscle and bone marrow tissue were extracted from the preserved pup, and a small team of evolutionary biologists in Sydney began working to unravel the tiger’s genetic code.

Experts disagree on the project’s chance of success — with odds ranging from close to zero to 50-50.

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