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Photo by Stephen Tafra on Unsplash

Plans to bring back the thylacine or Tasmanian tiger, also known as thylacine – the dog-like marsupial predator that went extinct some time during the 20th century – through a technique called gene editing has been met with caution and some outright scepticism by conservationists.

A biotech company called Colossal Biosciences, which is already working on a project to recreate the woolly mammoth, has announced it is in the early stages of engineering the thylacine using genetic material from dead animals and living relatives.

“Once we have the engineered cells, we use stem cell technologies and cloning techniques to turn those cells back into a living animal,” says Dr Andrew Pask, head of the Thylacine Integrated Genomic Restoration Research Lab (TIGRR), Colossal’s main project partner.

TIGRR’s website shows how scientists hope to use genetic material from the thylacine’s closest-living relatives – the dunnart and the numbat – to engineer a thylacine-like embryo that gestates inside the womb of a Tasmanian devil. Offspring would be isolated at birth and hand-reared.

Assuming the... see more