Science!: Jurassic (Goat) Park, Mind Reading and Pimp-Slapping Fish

Lauren Admire | 11 Jan 2010 17:00

Extinct Goat Species Revived Through Cloning

The Pyrenean ibex is a mountain goat that lived in the Pyrenees mountains, along the French/Spanish border. The last known living specimen, a female named Celia, died on January 6, 2000 when she was crushed by a falling tree. In 2009, she was brought back to life.

Yes, it's Jurassic Park, but instead of dinosaurs, it's a goat. Skin samples were collected from Celia and preserved in liquid nitrogen. DNA was then extracted from these samples and moved into the eggs of a domestic goat. The clone was birthed naturally, but died shortly afterwards due to physical defects in its lungs.

According to Dr. Jose Folch, from the Centre of Food Technology and Research of Aragon in Spain, "the delivered kid was genetically identical to the [ibex]. In species such as the [ibex], cloning is the only possibility to avoid its complete disappearance."

A total of 439 eggs were taken from domestic goats, and 57 of these were implanted into surrogate female goats. Out of the 57, seven of the embryos resulted in pregnancies, but only one resulted in a successful birth....for seven minutes, until it dropped dead.

This is the major obstacle concerning cloning animals, especially ones that have been extinct for quite some time. They just don't have a long, healthy life. DNA degrades over time, and DNA from an animal that is 10,000 years old, or even just 10 years old, will be wrought with decay. Even preserving it in ice does not stop the DNA from degrading.

"I think this is an exciting advance as it does show the potential of being able to regenerate extinct species," states Robert Miller, director of the Medical Research Council's Reproductive Sciences Unit at Edinburgh University. "Clearly there is some way to go before it can be used effectively, but the advances in this field are such that we will see more and more solutions to the problems faced."

Call me when you've resurrected a T-rex, Miller.


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