Monday, February 2, 2009

Extinct Animal Resurrected


The Pyrenean ibex was declared extinct in 2000 after the death of its last member in 2000, but before its death, scientists obtained and preserved its skin samples in liquid nitrogen, and from this they have now resurrected this extinct animal for the first time. The animal preferred a rocky mountaneous habitat and was one of Europes' most striking wild animals.

The scientists from Spain used the DNA from these skin samples and successfully replaced the genetic materials in eggs from domestic goats to clone a female Pyrenean ibex or bucardo as they are called. Unfortunately the infant ibex died shortly after birth due to defective lungs, but hopes are now high that endangered species can well be cloned and saved from extinction. Jose Folch from the Center of Food Technology and Research of Aragon in northern Spain says that cloning is the only way to save the species from extinction.

The Pyrenean ibex was common in the 19th century, but ruthless hunting reduced its population to less than 100. They were subsequently declared protected in 1973, but by 1981, only 30 of them were alive in their last foothold in the Ordesa National Park in Spain. And lo, the last bucardo, a 13-year-old female was found in January 2000 by the park rangers with its skull crushed. A cruel murder indeed!

Folch and his team had earlier taken tissue samples from her ear for cryopreservation. By nuclear transfer technique, DNA from the tissue were transplanted into the eggs taken from domestic goats to create 439 embryos of which 57 were implanted into surrogate females, but only seven of the embryos resulted in pregnancies, and finally one female bucardo was born, which died within seven minutes due to lung problems due to flaws in DNA.

Interestingly a number of similar projects to store tissue and DNA from endangered species. The Zoological Society of London and the Natural History Museum are involved in these projects.

Source: Times of India February 2, 2009
Image: Google

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