Home > DNA in the News > Resurrecting the DNA of Extinct Animals

Resurrecting the DNA of Extinct Animals

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 21 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Dna Extinct Extinction Animal Tasmanian

It's almost a surreal experience to contemplate extinct animals such as dinosaurs and many others that roamed the Earth long before our time. Yet, is extinct really forever? In the case of a recent study, perhaps not.

DNA and Extinction

Scientists conducted an experiment that allowed them to make use of the DNA of an extinct animal. While it certainly wasn't the genetic material of the well-publicised dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, it did still involve a rather robust animal that roamed the Earth on a much more recent basis during the previous century.

The research has particularly important implications because it triggers the question of whether extinction truly is absolute. In a sense, it could cause us to have to evaluate our approach to extinction and consider the ethics and other issues that may play a role when an extinct animal is resurrected.

Tasmanian Tiger

Researchers wanted to investigate if the DNA from an extinct animal could still be used in a live organism for therapeutic benefit. The experiment was one that had never been done before but it did prove successful. It will likely also prompt further research into the use of DNA from extinct animals, assuming the genetic material has been well-preserved and is sufficiently accessible as well.

They isolated genetic information from the Tasmanian tiger, which became extinct seventy years ago. Then, they inserted it into mouse embryos, where it contributed to the development of cartilage and eventually, bone. The research is particularly groundbreaking because it is the first time that an extinct species has been used in a DNA experiment to trigger a physiological response in a different living organism.

Cloning Extinct Species

An issue with animal extinction is that as we lose more species of animals, we also lose important information of how their genes work as well as the animal's potential in science. Some researchers have stated that the Tasmanian tiger should be resurrected by using cloning technology but other scientists disagree, citing that the DNA of the tiger is probably not preserved to the extent that it will provide the necessary quality for cloning.

While the Tasmanian tiger did become extinct, some specimens were kept and then used in this recent experiment. After the DNA of the tiger was inserted into the mouse embryos, the DNA was essentially 'turned on' and supported the production of cartilage, which is part of the process for bone formation.

Using the DNA of Extinct Species

The study is an important one for indicating how an extinct animal may potentially be resurrected in the future. As more and more animals become extinct due to a wide range of factors – environmental or caused by humans – we are rapidly missing out on the ability to access important genetic information that can yield clues about a number of scientific areas.

Although the concept of 'resurrecting' an extinct animal has garnered some criticism from the scientific community and the public, researchers in the study hope that the experiment highlights the potential for accessing DNA in an extinct animal and using it to benefit humans and scientific knowledge.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Very interesting and very helpful
Coolio - 30-Mar-11 @ 9:50 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Laverne
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    Hi..i am a USC. I petition for my stepchildren who are in Jamaica and the petition has been approved. I have since…
    9 August 2019
  • Mhay
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I need some answer...my son died 24 years ago, August 6,1995, he was born July 29,1995, I just have doubts in my mind, as Fabella Hospital in…
    30 July 2019
  • mich
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I would like to know if an old baseball cap would have my father's dna. My dad passed away in 2010.
    30 July 2019
  • Gurl
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My grandmother passed and I want to do a DNA-genealogical test. I did the 23 and me test and it was revealed I am 47percent Native American.…
    26 July 2019
  • fredab
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    hi , my son passed away ,17 years ago in2001 and he had a baby on the way ,she was born in june 2002 , she is 17 years old now ,but we had…
    27 June 2019
  • Richie
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My sister was adopted by my Aunty at a very young age. We met for the first time when I was 35 years old and she was 45 years. We were in…
    25 June 2019
  • spearmannbails
    Re: DNA and Criminology
    no. deoxyribonucleic acid is to be for biology, and biology only.
    24 June 2019
  • Casey
    Re: DNA Testing for Pets
    Hi, I was wondering if there was any chance you could do a DNA test on my dogs ashes, for a long time we suspected he wasnt full Siberian…
    18 June 2019
  • Vee
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Can I text my 4 month old baby ashes, there is pieces of her bone,
    12 June 2019
  • Cami
    Re: DNA Viruses
    Are you able to give me an explanation of how prescribed medicines may cause DNA mutations? As far as I know they can bind the DNA strands…
    11 June 2019