Can extinct animals be brought back to life? BBC News Arabic

23/08 07:28

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An American parent company hopes to bring extinct Tasmanian tigers (left) and woolly mammoths (right) back to life.

Scientists are trying to revive some extinct animal species.

One American startup founded in 2021 seems confident it can revive not just one, but two extinct animal species in the next five to 10 years.

It may have looked easy in the famous sci-fi movie Jurassic Park, but in reality it does not seem like an easy task, and many are skeptical about its feasibility, in addition to those who believe that it should not continue for ethical reasons.

A multimillion dollar project to “revive” an extinct tiger.

In this article, we look at what this scheme is, and examine whether it is really possible to revive extinct animals.

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The American geneticist Professor George Church hopes to make the restoration of extinct animals a reality

Colossal Biosciences, led by American geneticist George Church and CEO Ben Lamm, hopes to bring woolly mammoths back to life by 2027.

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With the help of the University of Melbourne, the company recently announced a project to revive the Tasmanian tiger, a carnivorous marsupial native to mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, which has been extinct since the 1930s.

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The Asian elephant has DNA similar to the woolly mammoth

One possible method relies on a form of reverse engineering, in which scientists take stem cells from living species with homologous DNA, then use gene-editing technology to “recreate” the extinct species.

For the woolly mammoth, the Asian elephant is the closest living animal.

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As for the DNA of the Tasmanian tiger, the team is working to take cells from the fetus of a Tasmanian tiger that was removed from its mother’s womb and placed in alcohol in a museum in the Australian city of Melbourne.

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The Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since the 1930s

The biggest hurdle for scientists is finding DNA intact enough to recreate the animal accurately, as closely as possible to the original animal’s DNA.

But the problem is that when animals die, their DNA code breaks down or breaks down into shorter chains, so getting them back together in the right order is a big challenge.

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The endangered Tasmanian devil could benefit from some of the latest research and technology

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Ben Lamm, one of the founders of Colossal Bioscience, believes that bringing extinct animals back to life can help preserve biodiversity and restore declining ecosystems, compensating for the damage caused by humans in the past.

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“Both woolly mammoths and Tasmanian tigers played a major role in their environment,” he says. “The recovery of these two animal species will have a positive impact on the deteriorating ecosystem, caused by the ecological vacuum caused by the absence of some species.”

He also argues that their company’s research can advance scientific efforts that seek to avoid the extinction of other species.

He explains, “A female animal known as a Tasmanian devil or Tasmanian gnome gives birth to 20 or 30 cubs. However, only a handful of the cubs survive. The method we are developing for the Tasmanian Tiger Project could be incredibly useful for conservationists . “environmentalists working to keep Tasmanian devils from extinction.”

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But critics such as Victoria Heridge, an evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum in London, argue that the process of creating a live baby mammoth could pose risks to other animals if a genetically modified embryo were transplanted into a surrogate elephant.

She explains: “The pregnancy has to last for 22 months and then the birth process, which means that there are risks for the mother, to carry her from different types of her – and it is a purely invasive procedure.”

“This process cannot take place without some serious unethical behavior, which is the use of elephant mothers’ wombs, which can be horrific. It is also not possible to use artificial wombs,” she says.

But Ben Lam says Colossal Bioscience is aware of the issue: “In addition to the team responsible for the external uterine system, we have also formed a team specializing in the process of implanting these embryos into surrogate wombs.”

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Help the mammoth support a productive ecosystem

Some critics consider the idea of ​​bringing extinct animals back to life immoral. No one knows what the reintroduction of a species like the woolly mammoth, which hasn’t roamed the earth for more than 4,000 years, might bring. There is also an urgent question, which is: What will the scientists stop at if the success of this technology is proven?

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