Nerd Talk: Cloning process brings back extinct species

By Nayeli Cabrera

Business & science editor

Recent research indicates it is possible to revive extinct species. As exciting as these feats may sound, I wonder what consequences would follow a successful revival of an extinct species, particularly regarding the disruption of food chains.

The first attempt at “de-extinction” occurred in 2003, when scientists manipulated a clone from an extinct ibex from Spain so that it would be developed in and born from a hybrid goat. However, the cloned bucardo was born with a third lung and could not breathe properly, so it died within ten minutes.

This incident raised the question that surrounds the topic of cloning: if it should be allowed, particularly since errors in experiments can harm the clones.

With more advanced technology and a better understanding of the cloning process, a group of scientists has gathered to carry out the Lazarus project. The project aims to revive Rheobatrachus silus, an Australian frog that became extinct in 1983. The clone appears to be developing well, so this could be the first case of a successful revival of an extinct species.

A technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer was used to clone the frog for the Lazarus project. First, nuclei from some frozen cells from the extinct frog were extracted. Then, the nuclei from eggs of a distantly related frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus, were inactivated and replaced with the nuclei that were extracted from the extinct frog.

The results of this experiment are not yet published, but the project has reactivated the dead cells and revived the genome from the extinct frog.

Perhaps this is a step toward preservation of life or toward a universe like the one depicted in the movie “Jurassic Park.”

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