Scientists Hope to Resurrect Animal That's Been Extinct for 100 Years

The last known Tasmanian tiger died in 1936, effectively rendering the species extinct. Now nearly 100 years later, scientists hope to resurrect thylacines entirely. In a press release distributed by the University of Melbourne on Tuesday, researchers at the school unveiled a new partnership with a Dallas-based startup in hopes of bringing back Australia's lone "marsupial apex predator."

Between the team of the University of Melbourne's Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research (TIGRR) Lab and Colossal Biosciences, scientists believe new DNA editing technology while be able to help bring the species back to life.

"We can now take the giant leaps to conserve Australia's threatened marsupials and take on the grand challenge of de-extincting animals we had lost," University of Melbourne professor Andrew Pask said in the press release.

"A lot of the challenges with our efforts can be overcome by an army of scientists working on the same problems simultaneously, conducting and collaborating on the many experiments to accelerate discoveries. With this partnership, we will now have the army we need to make this happen," he added.

While Pask and his team will shift their efforts in hopes of establishing new reproductive technologies tailored to thylacines and Australian marsupials, Colossal will be charged with deploying their proprietary CRISPR gene editing technology in hopes of reproducing thylacine DNA.

"The question everyone asks is 'how long until we see a living thylacine' – and I've previously believed in ten years' time we would have an edited cell that we could then consider progressing into making into an animal," Pask continued. "With this partnership, I now believe that in ten years' time we could have our first living baby thylacine since they were hunted to extinction close to a century ago."

Colossal CEO Ben Lamm added, "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Andrew Pask and the University of Melbourne to restore this amazing animal to Earth while also further developing gestational and genetic rescue technologies for future marsupial conservation efforts."

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Benjamin, the last known thylacine in captivity, died on September 7, 1936 due to exposure. He was being held at Australia's Beaumaris Zoo.