Wednesday, June 24, 2009
OK, scientists have determined it is not possible to resurrect the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), from the genetic material available in museum specimens. But they have done something important. They have been able to reassemble a single gene from this extinct marsupial and put it in a living animal (a lab mouse) to see what its function was. So far, it does not appear to do much of anything when spliced into a mouse, but that's not the point. The point is that, on a very limited scale, something with great implications - the resurrection of extinct genetic material - has proven possible.