Brooding Over a Mammoth Undertaking

Extinct Frog Hops Back Into The Gene Pool

Besides being interesting, this article has a cool interactive section and neat pictures. The interactive section does a good job of simplifying the cloning process. The story is about Australian scientists making serious headway on bringing back extinct species, specifically the Gastric Brooding frog. The “Project Lazarus” team was able to inject dead genetic material from the extinct frog into donor eggs from a live frog. The eggs succeeded in dividing for three days to form blastulas. This cloning technique, somatic nuclear cell transfer, is similar to the technique used to make the sheep clone, Dolly. However, this is the first time any success has been had with an extinct species. If this cloning process can be perfected, it would open incredible doors for species conservation. Furthermore, it would allow for the possibility of bringing back species nobody alive has ever seen. I’m wondering how they would handle inbreeding if they tried to repopulate a certain species.

I thought the biology of the extinct frog was really interesting. The Gastric Brooding frog was able to swallow its eggs and incubate them in its stomach. According to another article, “the fertilized eggs are coated in prostaglandin which causes the frog’s stomach to stop producing acidic juices and transforms it into a ‘makeshift womb’ where the young develop. When the froglets are fully developed the female simply regurgitates them.” These articles were prompted by the TEDx DeExtinction event in DC. I don’t think video is available yet, but the conference was a chance for researchers to share ideas about “de-extinction” and their efforts to develop ways to bring back extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth and dodo bird.

Woolly Mammoths. Wiki Commons: Mauricio Anton

Woolly Mammoths. Wiki Commons: Mauricio Anton


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