Dallas-based Colossal Biosciences, which describes itself as a genetic engineering and de-extinction company, said in a press release it has already begun the “de-extinction” of the tiger, which was eradicated by human hunting a century ago.
The company says bringing back the animal could have the potential to “re-balance the Tasmanian and broader Australian ecosystems, which have suffered biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation” since its extinction.
The release states that Australia has the worst extinction rate in the world for mammals. Without an “apex predator,” it says, ecosystems plunge into a series of “cascading trophic downgrading effects,” which leads to issues such as the spread of disease and an increase in wildfires and invasive species.
The slim, striped Tasmanian tiger helped regulate the ecosystem through its hunting behavior, preying on animals that hunt herbivores. The loss of herbivores causes a change in natural vegetation, “transforming the landscape and creating a vicious cycle of degradation.”
Colossal is collaborating with the University of Melbourne on the project, along with several experts.
“This is a landmark moment for marsupial research, and we’re proud to team up with Colossal to make this dream a reality,” said Dr. Andrew Pask, biologist and Tasmanian tiger expert. “The technology and key learnings from this project will also influence the next generation of marsupial conservation efforts. Additionally, rewilding the thylacine to the Tasmanian landscape can significantly curb the destruction of this natural habitat due to invasive species. The Tasmanian tiger is iconic in Australian culture. We’re excited to be part of this team in bringing back this unique, cornerstone species that mankind previously eradicated from the planet.”
In 2021, Colossal announced plans to “de-extinct” the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra by creating an elephant-mammoth hybrid.
At the time, Colossal said that restoring the woolly mammoth “has the potential to revitalize the Arctic grasslands, which has major climate change-combatting properties including carbon sequestering, methane suppression and light reflection.”