“Felix, if you could go back in time and meet an animal that is now extinct, which animal would you choose?” said Orak.
“Hmm, that’s a tough one,” said Felix, “Do I pick the prehistoric megalodon or would I enjoy meeting a dodo? Hmm, I think I’d pick the Tasmanian tiger or the thylacine. You see, it was the only marsupial apex predator in Australia. It looked like a dog and had stripes on its back.
Marsupials are mammals that carry their young ones in pouches.
An apex predator is at the top of the food chain. This means it doesn’t have any other predators hunting it. For example, tigers, African lions, polar bears, and jaguars.”
“Well, Felix, you’re in luck,” said Verum looking up from her crystal ball, “Of course, Orak can take you back in time to meet a Tasmanian tiger. But that might no longer be needed.”
“What do you mean? I am pretty sure the Tasmanian tiger has become extinct,” said Felix with a confused look, “Its population dwindled when humans first moved to Australia thousands of years ago. It fell further when dingoes, a species of wild dogs appeared on the continent. Eventually, it was found only on the island of Tasmania around 3,000 years ago and then hunted to extinction. The last captive Tasmanian tiger died at Hobart Zoo in 1936.”
“You’re right, Felix,” agreed Verum, “But the University of Melbourne and Colossal, a US de-extinction company has launched a multimillion-dollar project to bring back this animal from extinction. The plan is to edit genes from a mouse-like marsupial called the fat-tailed dunnart. More than 30 scientists will be working on this project. They say it could take about 10 years for the first baby Tasmanian tigers to be born.”