Tassie Tiger Return          Worksheet

The Tasmanian tiger is probably Australia’s most famous extinct animal, but what if one day they could be brought back from the dead? That’s what a group of scientists from the University of Melbourne are working on. They’ve announced the creation of a special research lab which will try to bring back thylacines by editing their DNA into the cells of their nearest marsupial relatives.

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This is the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine. I'm guessing you've never seen one in the wild because it's been extinct for nearly a hundred years. Although...

TASMANIAN RESIDENT, 1977: It was a peachy colour, peachy fawny colour with very dark stripes.

PARK RANGER, 1995: Looked about half the size of a German shepherd dog.

JOURNALIST, 1970s: What did it sound like?

TASMANIAN TIGER SPOTTER, 1970s: Oh, sort of a growling, gargling noise.

TASMANIAN SCIENTIST, 1977: Someone saw one in a carpark somewhere a few years ago. I mean this is obviously nonsense. They don't come into carparks.

Uh, despite the many sightings over the years, there's no actual proof anyone's seen a Tasmanian tiger since the last one died in the 1930s after many years of hunting, diseases and habitat loss.

AMELIA, REPORTER: But what if we could see a Tassie tiger again? What if we could bring back an extinct species using DNA and cloning? This plotline sounds very familiar. Nope, can't think of it.

Well, it might sound like a movie, but real life Aussie scientists at Melbourne Uni have a plan to bring back the T-Rex. Wait, no, I mean the Tassie tiger.

PROFESSOR ANDREW PASK, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: Now, it's very much, you know, no longer science fiction, but really a science fact that we have the technology to do this.

They've just been given a 5 million dollar donation to make the thylacine in a lab. By studying old specimens from museums, they've mapped the marsupial's entire DNA which is like nature's blueprint. But...

PROFESSOR ANDREW PASK, THYLACINE RESEARCH LAB: So, we still can't create life from a dead piece of tissue or an extinct animal. So, what we have to do is start with something that's living first, and then turn that into a thylacine. So, we find the closest living relative that's around today.

Enter the dunnart. It's a marsupial too with really similar DNA to the Tassie tiger. They can take some of its cells, edit them, so to speak, and use them to create a living thylacine cell. Then they'll use cloning techniques to make a baby thylacine that a similar marsupial can give birth to. Phew, easy, right? Well, it would be a world first, but this sort of thing has been done before. This recently extinct species, the Pyrenean ibex was brought back to life in Spain in 2009, by cloning frozen cells although it only lived a few minutes before becoming extinct, again. There are also plans to bring back the woolly mammoth using elephant DNA. Wow. So, Aussie scientists are hopeful.

AXEL NEWTON, THYLACINE RESEARCH LAB: The prospect of having one, like, in real life is just, it's mind blowing.

Of course, not everyone agrees bringing species back from the dead is such a great idea. Some reckon more money should be spent on animals that are, you know, still alive. But these scientists say de-extinction could be a huge help for conservation in the future by giving species a second chance at life. Well, some species, anyway.

ANDREW PASK, PROFESSOR, THYLACINE RESEARCH LAB: For dinosaurs there's no DNA left in dinosaur bones. So, we don't have to worry about a Jurassic Park happening. But for more recently extinct animals, we can certainly. Anything is within the realm of bringing back.

JOE, REPORTER: But life, ah, finds a way.

AMELIA, REPORTER: Ah no, we're not doing that in this story. It's been done before, Joe.

JOE, REPORTER: Alright.

JACK, REPORTER: Guys, guys I'm ready. Where are you going? Why does this always happen to me.

Scientists should bring back extinct species

Or

Scientists should not bring back extinct species

Write 5 paragraphs presenting your opinion on the topic presented in the video.

Paragraph One – Introduction – Your opinion + 3 reasons.

Paragraph Two – Firstly, - present your first reason

Paragraph Two – Secondly, - present your second reason

Paragraph Three – In addition/ Furthermore / Moreover

Paragraph Four – In conclusion …………………………..

 

Send your completed text to walter.russell@det.nsw.edu.au

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