De-Extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger?

I just read that scientist are working on bringing back the tasmanian tiger from extinction. What are your thoughts on this, is it ethical, is it possible, and will it be beneficial?

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I think it is more publicity stunt or overambition than anything else. Doubtful anything will come of it. This same company plans to deextinct the woolly mammoth. Both will require massive funding and time investment that can’t be garnered from just being in the headlines for a month or so.

As far as I know numbats are also more distant from the thylacine than Asian elephants are to Mammuthus, and obviously there is a far larger size and (external) morphological disparity. And it is already difficult with mammoths, with far more investigation into their deextinction. I hate to be pessimistic, but yeah. I also can’t imagine all the macabre failed experiments that would be produced in the process.

I think it is better to invest in searching for the thylacine in remote parts of New Guinea. It is likelier to be successful and wouldn’t invoke some of the dilemmas that deextinction would. I’ve heard it is reasonably likely that some relict populations survive there.

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Some of the work with passenger pigeon is also incredible and well thought out (chick rearing, migration, etc.) but to me the problem is there is a degraded world to come back to. Habitat destruction being the primary threat for the majority of species, we are already struggling to keep what we have alive. If we gain the ability to bring things back, why bother protecting anything anymore? I think it is more valuable to move forward and learn from the past.

I agree with a previous comment about it being publicity, but being “alive” is not as valuable as contributing to the ecosystem. A few individuals brought back is meaningless unless they are fulfilling their ecosystem services, which is unlikely given the amount of change (habitat loss as mentioned, invasive species, other species loss/decline, climate change, etc.) they would come back to.

This is a link to a video referring to the passenger pigeon: https://www.ted.com/talks/stewart_brand_the_dawn_of_de_extinction_are_you_ready?language=en

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I would prefer more resources being put into stopping any more species becoming extinct.

Here’s a list of 27 local species that the zoo in Melbourne is working hard to keep alive:
https://www.zoo.org.au/fighting-extinction/local-threatened-species/
I’m sure they would be happy to receive some of the millions that might be put into trying to re-create a thylacine.

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Two words bound to fill us with dread and shame: “Science reporting.”

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Resurrecting an extinct species is an interesting experiment that could have benefits to methods in genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization techniques. Research on reinvigorating the inbred population of Black-footed Ferrets with genetic material from long-dead individuals is currently underway. But I don’t see it as a way to restore most species that are already gone. The resurrected organisms, if it’s successful, would likely never be reintroduced and would be captive curiosities.

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The thylacine became extinct as much from habitat modification as it did from hunting. Bringing it back won’t address these problems.

Meanwhile, relentless loss of biodiversity goes on unhindered.

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De-extinction probably won’t ever happen, it’s all for publicity. Maybe it could happen with something like an extinct bug, where we have a wealth of specimens and genetic diversity inside of insect collections, and no one needs to teach the bug how to be a bug unlike megafaunal mammals, but nobody cares about extinct bugs, you wont get press coverage and donations from philanthropists (that really should be going to conserving habitat and extant species instead) for saying you want to bring back a drab looking bug that was endemic to a small slice of habitat that no longer exists

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Love the idea of de-extinction in principle but fear this will lead to fewer efforts to stop current declines + extinctions. What’s the point of saving anything when we can bring it back again later?

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  1. This is not currently possible, nor is it likely to be possible within the next decade or two.

  2. When/if it become possible, are there resources to produce at least two and preferably more genetically distinct individuals? If not there will be no new population, just a last, out of place individual.

  3. Is there habitat for the Tasmanian Tiger? If not, the only place for the individual or population to exist is in a zoo, and it seems like a lot of trouble to go through to produce a zoo exhibit.

  4. We can get more beneficial effects for our endangered species dollars by preserving the species we still have than by bringing extinct ones back. Though I wouldn’t really mind somebody doing except for issues 1 through 3.

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I agree. Out of all likely extinct animals, I think the tasmanian tiger hold the most water in ways of “footage”. I’m surprised more efforts haven’t been made to find them.

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It’s a relatively large animal on a relatively populated island, every time theres “proof” its something like a mangy fox, or a quoll, or the one time it was a pademelon. Theres a reason the vast majority of presumed extinct animal that get rediscovered are fish or bugs or small amphibians or something of that nature, people aren’t gonna notice those like how they would a megafaunal mammal
Its the ivory-billed woodpecker situation, every few years someone comes out with “undeniable proof” of the very dead animal that makes bigfoot footage look like its in 4k, when meanwhile theres tons of bugs and fish and the like out there that nobody’s officially recorded in decades that are probably still out there

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In a relatively populated island full of people who each carry a camera in their pocket and have done so for some time.

Why are we trying to bring something back? We really should be focusing on protecting the species that are about to go, from the well known to the very obscure endangered species. I don’t believe the Tasmanian ecosystem has collapsed because of the thylacine extinction, so why bring it back? Apparently the money has nowhere else to go, but it could easily be used to protect other species. It’s been said that over 25,000 species go extinct each year. Even if we brought back 8 species from extinction but 10 go extinct during that time period, it is still a waste of time and money. It doesn’t seem likely that the Tasmanian Tiger will walk the face of the earth anytime soon, if ever. Or if it did, it would be because other species went extinct from neglect.

You misconstrued what I meant. I’m not saying that the tasmanian tiger is still alive in the wild, but that footage obtained of purported “tasmanian tiger” sightings seem to be of higher quality and seems more probable than the laughable '“undeniable proof” of a Pileated Woodpecker doing its best Ivory-billed impression.

They should focus their time and money on protecting endangered species and preventing more extinctions rather than wasting all of it on what will probably be a frivolous endeavor.

I suspect the people involved and the funding sources being used for conservation of endangered species vs. those for resurrection of extinct species are very different.

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