Recreating the Tasmanian Tiger

The University of Melbourne is establishing a world-class research lab for de-extinction and marsupial conservation science thanks to a $5 million philanthropic gift.

The gift will be used to establish the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research (TIGRR) Lab, led by Professor Andrew Pask, which will develop technologies that could achieve de-extinction of the thylacine (commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger), and provide crucial tools for threatened species conservation.

“Thanks to this generous funding we’re at a turning point where we can develop the technologies to potentially bring back a species from extinction and help safeguard other marsupials on the brink of disappearing,” Professor Pask, from the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne said.

“Our research proposes nine key steps to de-extinction of the thylacine. One of our biggest breakthroughs was sequencing the thylacine genome, providing a complete blueprint on how to essentially build a thylacine.”

“The funding will allow our lab to move forward and focus on three key areas: improving our understanding of the thylacine genome; developing techniques to use marsupial stem cells to make an embryo; and then successfully transferring the embryo into a host surrogate uterus, such as a dunnart or Tasmanian devil,” Professor Pask said.

The thylacine, a unique marsupial carnivore also known as the Tasmanian wolf, was once widespread in Australia but was confined to the island of Tasmania by the time Europeans arrived in the 18th century. It was soon hunted to extinction by colonists, with the last known animal dying in captivity in 1936.

“Of all the species proposed for de-extinction, the thylacine has arguably the most compelling case. The Tasmanian habitat has remained largely unchanged, providing the perfect environment to re-introduce the thylacine and it is very likely its reintroduction would be beneficial for the whole ecosystem,” Professor Pask said.

At least 39 Australian mammal species have gone extinct in the past 200 years, and nine are currently listed as critically endangered and at high risk of extinction.

“The tools and methods that will be developed in the TIGRR Hub will have immediate conservation benefits for marsupials and provide a means to protect diversity and protect against the loss of species that are threatened or endangered,” Professor Pask said.

Comment: A much needed break from the contemplation of war. pl

No Longer Science Fiction: De-Extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger Moves One Step Closer (

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8 Responses to Recreating the Tasmanian Tiger

  1. RHT447 says:

    Shades of Jurassic Park. A re-constituted T-Rex might be just the thing for the next ANTIFA riot.

  2. English Outsider says:

    Colonel – if we can do that we can go the whole hog and get some useful people back too.

    I nominate Wellington. I don’t know how good he was at manoeuvring but he came up with the simple but effective idea of putting his soldiers behind the crest of the defended hill during the artillery barrage – and having them pop up on the crest when the follow-up attack came. Neat.

    And I like his style. Sometimes the situation calls for a touch of insouciance. “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg.” “By God, Sir, so you have.”

    I’ll add to the list Stonewall Jackson. I like his style too. And grit allied to competence always appeals. Suppose we’d better get Napoleon back as well. He was reputed to be a dab hand at logistics in his prime so could make sure the other two were properly supplied.

    • Pat Lang says:

      I lived in one half of Old Jack’s classroom one year. It had been divided into two cadet barracks rooms. I confess to having deposited a bag of lemons on his grave.

      • Bill Roche says:

        All war and no play made Jack a dull boy? Perhaps some levity is in order. For a respite to comments on war I propose each poster (who wishes) nominate one warrior; one person of medicine/science, one statesman, and one composer and say why they should be “restored”. I’ll go.
        Marcus Aurellius – my Latin teacher’s favorite Roman and I confess also mine. He put Rome ahead of himself.
        Handel – I attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Every Sunday immer Bach/Hayden.
        Washington – perhaps not up to the job in ’75 but w/o him there would have been no ’81.
        I need help on science/medicine. There are so many and all stood on other shoulders. I am at a loss.

      • English Outsider says:

        Jackson was misty legend to me until the article on Chancellorsville. I then read around him. Realised he was rather more than just a legend.

        I was surprised to find just now that the lemons are hotly contested. Peaches, say some. Or never liked fruit. Or they didn’t grow lemons round his way. Then some comment put the matter past doubt. It quoted – “‘Henry Kyd Douglas in I Rode With Stonewall states …”someone handed him a lemon–a fruit of which he was especially fond.”

        So that’s settled. But if Mr Roche is going to limit warrior selections to one, all three of my choices will have to go and I nominate Nelson. Could an Englishman nominate any other?

  3. Fred says:

    Can they bring back Nessi?

  4. Deap says:

    Why pick the Tasmanian Devil to re-create? Nasty little critter was allegedly why the British put their major prison on Tasmania, so anyone trying to escape would be forced to choose between a rock and a hard place.

    Why not re-create the dodo, at least they taste like chicken. BTW: There is a remaining skeleton of a dodo in the Mauritius Island museum which is as close as we get to the dodo’s temps perdu. Any DNA left to scrape from his/her bones?

    • Deap says:

      More esoterica about Mauritius – also home of the famous Two Pence Blue stamp. Guarded behind a heavy glass security exhibit, as if it was the Hope Diamond.

      For anyone who wants even a moment’s relief from covid-covid-covid and Russia-Russia-Russia:

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