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.
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.
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.
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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