Reports out of Australia’s University of New South Wales are saying that their scientists have successfully created an embryo from the extinct gastric-brooding frog. While it is only in embryo form, they say that the species will live again and possibly see other extinct animals restored as well.
It is not exactly the passenger pigeon or dodo bird just yet, but scientists at the University of New South Wales are claiming to have created a living embryo of the extinct gastric-brooding frog that died out about three decades ago. They claim that through this new technique other extinct species of animals will be brought back to life and reintroduced to nature.
Scientists were able to use dead genetic material preserved from the gastric-brooding frog, and then insert its DNA into some donor egg of a similar species of frog. After waiting a short while, the embryo came to life. The process is being likened to the cloning techniques used by scientists early on in its development, such as with “Dolly” the sheep.
One of the men on the research team at the UNSW by the name of Mike Archer said that they were not sure if the DNA introduction worked at first, so they went ahead and patiently waited. "But then, all of a sudden, one of the cells divided, and then it divided again, and again,” Archers said.
What makes this story so unique compared to other cloned animal stories is that it is the first time an extinct species has been brought back from extinction. However, the frog embryo did not fully develop into a full-fledged tadpole as some had hoped for.
Nevertheless, the researchers are saying that this small step was to prove it could be done, and this is a proof of concept that an extinct animal can be brought back using non-living samples of DNA.
In the 1970s the idea of cloning any kind of animal or human was in the realms of science fiction literature and Marvel comic books. Even when the cloning technology came about, scientists were still skeptical if one could bring back an animal from non-living genetic material. Now that scientists have found a way to ‘resurrect the dead’, so to speak, it may be the first step in seeing animals like the Woolly Mammoth grazing fields again, or even the exceedingly controversial resurrection of the Neanderthal man!
The gastric-brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus), also known, as the Platypus frog, was a land-dwelling frog once native to the region of Queensland, Australia. They were unique with the fact that they were one of only two species of frog that actually ate its eggs, incubated their young in the stomach of the female and then giving birth out its mouth. Scientists say the species was confirmed extinct in 1983, which was partly attributed to habitat loss and other environmental factors.
Amphibians are often considered the most sensitive to environmental change due to their aquatic nature and ability to absorb chemicals through their fragile, thin skin.
Source: UNSW Australia, science division