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Thylacine Back to Life?

 

Thylacine from The Book of the Animal Kingdom, 1910

Thylacine from The Book of the Animal Kingdom, 1910

The Thylacine, an extinct marsupial that looked like a cross between a hyena and a tiger, is about to get a second chance in life. A team of scientists in Australia that believe are capable of bringing extinct species back to life, are working on reviving the Tasmanian Tiger.

Back in March, Professor Mike Archer, leader of the Lazarus Project, announced that his team had finally created cloned embryos of the extinct Australia’s southern gastric-brooding frog, which became extinct in 1983. But this is just the beginning: hundreds of other species could be put back on Earth by the scientist’s method; by gathering fragmented DNA they were able to recover intact genes that will be used to rebuild the animal’s entire genetic code.

 

 

The gastric-brooding frog giving birth through its mouth. (Credit: Mike Tyler, 1973)

The gastric-brooding frog giving birth through its mouth. (Credit: Mike Tyler, 1973)

Critics have raised questions about the ethics of recreating an extinct animal, suggesting that we shouldn’t interfere with nature. To these people, one would think, the name Wilf Batty should undoubtedly  ring a bell.

Batty, a farmer from Mawbanna, Tasmania, shot dead the last wild Thylacine because, according to him, the creature was eating his chickens. The bullet penetrated the shoulder of a male Tasmanian Tiger, leaving him alive for another 20 minutes. This was the farmer’s great opportunity to make history, giving Pat O’Halloran -friend of Batty- time to take pictures of the wounded animal waiting to die. The next day he sold the carcass for £5 to an animal dealer.

Proud Wilf Batty poses with the last wild Thylacine after he shot it

Proud Wilf Batty poses with the last wild Thylacine after he shot it

Ever since this incident, witnesses have reported Thylacine sightings in the wild. It could be possible, but very unlikely. Given the geographical features of Australia, it is very hard for a specie to recover within an island once its numbers have been reduced to possibly zero.

By Quadell  CC-BY-SA-2.0(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Quadell CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Grey Wolf of North America could have followed the same fate as the Thylacine, hadn’t the Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Today, after the Grey Wolf’s numbers has been recovered considerably, the debate whether Americans should be able to start shooting them has begun again. Accusations of the predator killing poultry and cattle flood the local papers and TV stations that, not having much to report, resort to ridiculous statistics stirring the minds of prejudiced viewers. The Thylacine was likewise accused of killing sheep, and with the excuse, farmers persecuted the animal to extinction. But now science says otherwise: this carnivorous marsupial had jaws so weak that were incapable of hunting preys larger than a possum.

The Tasmanian Tiger never got a chance.

So, if we can take species out of this world, why shouldn’t we be able to bring them back? As preposterous as it may sound, this is the least we can do for them.

Sometimes it makes you think whether elusive creatures such as Bigfoot should remain just the way they are, undiscovered, for their own safety. Unless, that is, humankind finally realizes how damaging to nature we can be.

 

 

 

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Justin Mcmaster

    April 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hey, just a suggestion: Bring back a man-eating animal. We are overpopulating the earth. We do not have a predator to keep our population in check like lions keep the zebras in check because we try to kill things that kill us. To us humans we are at the top of the food chain and superior to all things. Something has to change. They say we are building a better world. That is false. It is an illusion. In reality we are killing ourselves. At least two-thirds of the world’s population needs to be gone.

    • Marzipan 76

      July 30, 2018 at 6:13 am

      Oh wow! I thought I was the only one who thinks this!
      Some people call me sadistic when I am just being honest..

  2. Harvey Mushman

    July 12, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Aren’t we always worried about upsetting the eco-system? Wouldn’t man reintroducing extinct animals be doing just that, whether mans doing or natures? It’s like the people that try to save the baby sea turtles every year by getting them to the water, instead of some dying off. They think they are helping but they are upsetting the natural order of things.

  3. HMushman

    August 31, 2014 at 5:26 am

    That would upset the eco-system. I’m surprised the propaganda rich article didn’t pickup on that.

    • AlexAuz

      March 2, 2015 at 2:38 am

      Obviously you’re not well versed in the principles of conservation biology or ecology if you believe that returning keystone species such as top order predators to an environment could have a negative impact. Bringing back the Thylacine would be incredibly beneficial to Tasmania’s ecosystems. In the same way bringing back the Wolf to Yellowstone has helped to restore a self regulating system, how the re-introduction of wild horses and bovids to Europe is reinvigorating the regions biodiversity and natural processes. Even the more controversial step of introducing Elephants to North America to act as proxies for the extinct Mammoth and Mastadon has a multitude of benefits. Elephant conservation, insurance against extinction in other parts of the world, preservation and regeneration of the prairie ecosystem and a brighter outlook for the future of biodiversity as a whole (obviously it will have to be trialed to see if there was any unexpected problems). Read this.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rewilding_%28conservation_biology%29

      As for the turtles, if people cleaned up and made available all of their original nesting sites (thousands of beaches used by people across the world) and stopped killing them by the millions in nets and with plastic debris then sure, stop helping them out but if we don’t do anything to give the tiny amount of turtles we have left a chance to survive we will loose them for good. Not though natural processes or “the natural order of things” but directly because of human influence.
      We should be doing everything in our power to at least try and restore the world to something like it’s former glory.

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