RNA from extinct Tasmanian wolf recovered by scientists after 81 years

Recently, scientists reached a milestone remarkable in genetic research by recovering RNA from an animal that has been extinct for more than eight decades: the Tasmanian wolf.

This extraordinary feat not only represents the first time that RNA has been sequenced in an extinct animal, but also opens the door to the possible resurrection of this iconic species.

Below we will explore this incredible discovery, the ongoing efforts to bring it back to life, and the implications of this advance for science.

The Journey of the Tasmanian Wolf

The Tasmanian wolf, an enigmatic creature, faced final extinction in 1936, when the last known specimen died at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Tasmania.

However, the population was already in decline long before that, with only a few specimens surviving on the Australian island. The mystery and majesty of this species have left a lasting mark on natural history.

Source: Wikimedia/Reproduction

RNA rescue

Scientists have achieved a remarkable breakthrough by recovering Tasmanian wolf RNA from tissues of an approximately 130-year-old dissected specimen that was stored at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

This genetic material was carefully extracted and analyzed, providing a unique insight into the animal’s biology just before its extinction.

In the words of the study’s lead author, Emilio Mármol Sánchez, a computational biologist at the Center for Paleogenetics and SciLifeLab in Sweden:

“RNA offers the opportunity to explore the cell, the tissues and discover the real biology preserved over time for this animal, the thylacine species.”

Implications for genetics and conservation

In addition to being a remarkable scientific feat, this achievement provides valuable information about genetics.

This data is crucial to ongoing conservation efforts in several countries, aiming to rescue this iconic species from the extinction.

There is currently a Tasmanian Tiger Integrated Genetic Restoration Research (TIGRR) Laboratory dedicated to these resurrection efforts and the reintroduction of the Tasmanian tiger into its natural habitat.

A scientific milestone

It is worth mentioning that, in 2019, the RNA of a wolf preserved in permafrost 14,300 years ago it was sequenced, representing a significant advance in genetic research.

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Sequencing the RNA of an already extinct animal is an unprecedented achievement. The scientist who led the study, whose results were published in the journal Genome Researchpoints out that this is one of the first tests of concept that can be applied to much older extinct animals, such as the mammoth.

Source: Emilio Sanchez/Reproduction

The future of genetics and conservation

The successful recovery of Tasmanian wolf RNA represents an important milestone for wildlife science and conservation.

As scientists continue to explore the possibilities offered by genetics, it is possible that we will see similar advances for other extinct species, such as the mammoth.

These achievements not only expand our understanding of natural history, but also offer hope for the preservation of endangered and extinct species.

The recovery of RNA from the Tasmanian wolf, a species that went extinct 81 years ago, is a remarkable scientific feat that opens the door to the resurrection of this iconic species and promises to boost conservation efforts around the world.

Science continues to reveal the secrets of the past, offering fascinating insights into the natural world and providing hope for the future of biodiversity conservation.

This advance represents an important proof of concept for genetic research of extinct animals, setting the stage for exciting future discoveries.