Australian scientists have produced an embryo of a frog that was extinct since 1983. The new breakthrough paves the way to bring extinct species back to life.
Two years ago, palaeontologist Mike Archer from the University of New South Wales looked down a microscope and saw that a single fertilized frog egg had divided in two. Then, it did it again. And again. Eventually, the egg produced an embryo containing hundreds of cells. Archer’s team of scientists had loaded it with the DNA of the southern Gastric Brooding Frog (scientific name Rheobatrachus silus) — a creature that has been extinct for almost 30 years. Archer’s purpose was to bring the extinct Gastric Brooding Frog back from oblivion. The team named the project, Lazarus, a project that indicates inserting the dead genetic material of the extinct amphibian into the donor eggs of another species of living frog.
Interestingly, the mother frog converts her stomachs into a womb, swallows her own eggs. At that time, mother frog stops making hydrochloric acid in her stomach to avoid digesting her own young. Around 20 to 25 tadpoles hatch inside her and the mucus from their gills continues to keep the acid at bay. While the tadpoles grow over the next six weeks, the mother frog never eats. Her stomach bloats so much that her lungs collapse, forcing her to breathe through her skin. Eventually, she gives birth to her brood through “propulsive vomiting”, spewing them into the world as fully formed froglets.
“This is the first time this technique has been achieved for an extinct species,” said one of the project scientists, conservation biologist Michael Mahony.
While many scientists have argued it would be impossible to bring a species back from the dead like in the film Jurassic Park, the Lazarus project’s breakthrough suggested the revival of extinct species was no longer the realm of science fiction. However, after getting this breakthrough, Mike Archer has decided that he will clone the southern Gastric Brooding Frog back into life.
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