True or False? Extinction Is Forever

Researchers' efforts to clone the vanished Tasmanian tiger highlight the quandary of reviving long-gone creatures

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But Archer says, in effect, a thylacine is a thylacine, however its DNA blueprint is obtained, because much animal behavior, including that of marsupials, is genetically hardwired or instinctual. "We take kittens and raise them with humans, but they still behave like cats," he points out. And Archer, who envisions nature preserves populated by cloned thylacines and their offspring, says the project is actually a boon to conservation: it shows what it takes just to contemplate resurrecting a vanished species.

For now, Archer and coworkers are trying to piece together the thylacine’s exact genetic makeup. That won’t, of itself, bring the animal back, but it may provide new insights into the workings of the lamented creature. In that sense, the real danger would be not trying.


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