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Scientists Clone Previously Extinct Frog

Gastric-brooding frong

Some may be disappointed to hear the the first extinct species to be brought back to life is not a dinosaur or wooly mammoth, but this is still a pretty miraculous feat. Scientists have revived the previously extinct gastric-brooding frog, which is about as gross and fascinating as you’d expect.

The University of Newcastle researchers have used preserved DNA to resurrect the frog, a native species of Queensland that was pushed to extinction by parasites, fungus, habitat loss, and invasive weeds in the 1980s. The animal got the name “gastric-brooding frog” because it has the unique ability to incubate eggs in its stomach and give birth through its mouth. Gulp.

The process used for the revival, which has been named The Lazarus Project, applies somatic cell nuclear transfer to a batch of eggs that have been in a freezer for 40 years. The eggs were taken from the similar great-barred frog, and the nuclei was swapped with that of the gastric-brooding frog. The eggs began to divide, eventually growing into an embryo. None of the embryos made it more than a few days, but genetic testing has shown that the cells contained the genetic makeup of the extinct frog.

According to Professor Mike Archer of the University of New South Wales, the challenge ahead is purely technical, not biological, meaning there is a pretty big chance that the extinct frog will soon be hopping along the land once again. This could also prove to be a highly valuable conservation tool for the hundreds of amphibian species in decline.

This is obviously a huge advancement in our ability to preserve and maintain species, but of course it is met with controversy from those who believe scientists need to stop “playing God.” Do you think this is a valuable tool to undo damage we’ve caused to ecosystems, or should we leave the fate of other animals alone?

Archive Image: Gastric-Brooding Frog. Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and Bob Beale

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