Michael Crichton is rolling over in his grave… or not.
A fragment of DNA from the Tasmanian tiger has been brought back to life.
Australian scientists extracted genetic material from a 100-year-old museum specimen, and put it into a mouse embryo to study how it worked.
It is the first time DNA of an extinct species has been used in this way, says a University of Melbourne team.
The study, published online by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), suggests the marsupial’s genetic biodiversity may not be lost.
Dr Andrew Pask, of the Department of Zoology, who led the research, said it was the first time that DNA from an extinct species had been used to carry out a function in a living organism.
“As more and more species of animals become extinct, we are continuing to lose critical knowledge of gene function and its potential,” he said.
“Up until now we have only been able to examine gene sequences from extinct animals. This research was developed to go one step further to examine extinct gene function in a whole organism.”