Scientists in Australia and the US are embarking on a project to bring back to life the Tasmanian tiger which became extinct nearly 100-years-ago, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
The team of researchers behind the ambitious multi-million-dollar project say they can recreate the animal – officially called a thylacine – by using stem cells and gene-editing technology, according to the BBC.
The Tasmanian tiger could reportedly be reintroduced into the wild in the 10 years’ time.
By taking stem cells from a living marsupial with similar DNA to the thylacine the scientists will use the gene-editing technology to bring the creature back, according to the British broadcaster.
“I now believe that in 10 years’ time we could have our first living baby thylacine since they were hunted to extinction close to a century ago,” Professor Andrew Pask, who is leading the research from the University of Melbourne told the BBC.
Tasmanian tiger numbers reportedly declined when humans arrived in Australia tens of thousands of years ago, and when dingoes – a species of wild dog – appeared.
Eventually, the animal only roamed free on the island of Tasmania, south of Australia, and was finally hunted to extinction.
If scientists were successful, it would be the first ‘”de-extinction” even in history, but some people are skeptical of the project.
“De-extinction is a fairytale science,” Associate Professor Jeremy Austin from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA told the Sydney Morning Herald, saying that the project is “more about media attention for the scientists and less about doing serious science,” the BBC reported.
The thylacine gained its nickname as the Tasmanian tiger because of the stripes along its back, but it is actually a marsupial – an Australian mammal the raises its young in its pouch.
This project is a partnership between scientists at the University of Melbourne and Texas-based company Colossal.