Mar 7, 2022
Could the extinct Dodo bird or mammoth again roam the earth? Should they?
Australian scientists believe they have the best candidate to bring back from extinction: the Tasmanian Tiger. With a new $5 million grant, they are going to try.
Reviving dead species had been believed impossible. But today, science could make the fantasy real.
This “tiger” once freely roamed Australia but was driven off the mainland 3,000 years ago to Tasmania. That's an island just south of Australia. There, it was hunted to extinction. The last one died in captivity in 1936.
This "tiger" had zebra stripes on its back and looked more like a wolf than a cat. It was neither. In fact, it was a marsupial. It carried its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. The shy tiger posed no threat to humans.
Scientists argue over whether we should try to bring back extinct species. But the researchers say the potential benefits in this case outweigh the risks. Extinction of the "tigers" helped lead to the overpopulation of rabbits, which are not native to Australia, they say. That's because the "tiger" was a predator. Its disappearance also helped lead to the near extinction of the Tasmanian Devil from disease. The tiger wasn’t around to kill off weaker, sicker members of that herd. That allowed the diseases to spread.
Tasmania "has remained largely unchanged, which makes it "the perfect environment to re-introduce the (tiger)," said Andrew Pask. He's the director of the lab in charge of the research. "It’s very likely its reintroduction would be beneficial.”
Photo from Public Domain courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
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