Wed, 05 Oct 2022

Should we bring back the thylacine? We asked 5 experts

The Conversation
17 Aug 2022, 18:38 GMT+10

In a newly announced partnership with Texas biotech company Colossal Biosciences, Australian researchers are hoping their dream to bring back the extinct thylacine is a "giant leap" closer to fruition.

Scientists at University of Melbourne's TIGRR Lab (Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research) believe the new partnership, which brings Colossal's expertise in CRISPR gene editing on board, could result in the first baby thylacine within a decade.

The genetic engineering firm made headlines in 2021 with the announcement of an ambitious plan to bring back something akin to the woolly mammoth, by producing elephant-mammoth hybrids or "mammophants".

But de-extinction, as this type of research is known, is a highly controversial field. It's often criticised for attempts at "playing God" or drawing attention away from the conservation of living species. So, should we bring back the thylacine? We asked five experts.

Authors: Signe Dean - Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation | Axel Newton - Research Fellow, Comparative Genomics, The University of Melbourne | Corey J. A. Bradshaw - Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology and Models Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University | Euan Ritchie - Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University | Julian Koplin - Lecturer in Bioethics, Monash University & Honorary fellow, Melbourne Law School, Monash University | Parwinder Kaur - Associate Professor | Director, DNA Zoo Australia, The University of Western Australia The Conversation

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