Mike Archer Cloning the tasmanian tiger

We have got our answers back from Professor Mike Archer.
Its quite a read but is very informative and well worth the time. We are very lucky to have had this shared with us.
Is the cloning project being resurrected now that the entire thylacine genome has been sequenced?What is the likelihood that thylacines can be successfully cloned now?
Mike: See the attached document I’ve sent. The entire nuclear genome hasn’t yet been sequenced but people are working on it. The mitochondrial genome has been sequenced and published by a team from the US. I’m convinced we will have them back in the future but have no idea when this may happen—but probably sooner than later!
Can you put a time frame on it? If one day successful can a viable population be sustained, considering the limited gene pool?
Mike: If one can be produced, hundreds can. Almost all specimens in museums and private collections will have recoverable DNA hence males, females and genetic variation can be recovered. But do we even need genetic variation? All cheetahs are virtually genetically identical and they’re doing fine.
If the cloning project were ever to go ahead, given that any host animal would be quite removed from the thylacine, how would you address the issue of hormonal regulation during the pregnancy?
Mike: I don’t think this would cause any problem that couldn’t be, if necessary, artificially managed. In any case, you only have do this twice and they’ll be producing their own biochemical chemistry from that point on. Recent assessment suggests that Thylacines and Devils are sufficiently close enough to each other phylogenetically (same superfamily of marsupials, the Dasyuromorphia), with the thylacinid and dasyurid lineages separating perhaps no more than 35 million years ago, that a hybrid embryo involving a Devil egg and Thylacine DNA would almost certainly work.
To what degree does Prof. Archer hope to be involved with any future cloning attempt?
Mike: I’m first in line to pat the first one off the assembly line. Then I’m first in line for the first ones excess individuals beyond those used to restore Thylacines to the wild to have one as a pet.
Can he see the government funding a event search in Tasmania for a live specimen and what does he think about so many sightings that have been reported.
Mike: I’m not a great believer in the survival of Thylacines, although Col Bailey, who I do want to believe, has told me he saw one while he was having a pee in a remote corner of Tasmania. Apart from his claim, the others don’t stand up to examination. Show me the ‘money’, i.e. the hard evidence—hair, bones, flesh, poo. But nothing produced so far has convinced any biologist that they survived past the 1930s. There are lots of arguments for why it is almost impossible that they did survive, but that’s another issue.
Were thylacines superfoetal (birthed many joeys)and if so and fused onto the teat for a period of weeks like other m carnivores?
Mike: Probably they did produce more young at birth than they had nipples available. This is not uncommon in some of the carnivorous marsupials. But like any other carnivorous marsupials, the young would attach to a nipple and develop in the mother’s pouch for months before coming out to forage on their own. All of these behaviours would be hard-wired in the DNA of the Thylacine. These are not ‘taught’ behaviours.
Given other marsupial carnivores like devil and quoll don't moult and have the same double coat throughout their lives, is there any evidence that thylacine would have had a summer and winter coat?
Mike: I don’t know the answer to that. You might check Bob Paddle’s book ‘The Last Thylacine’, or ask Dr Stephen Sleightholme who you can contact via the web link ‘The International Thylacine Database’. Stephen knows everything!
Would you like to be in an episode of Hunt for The Tasmanian Tiger ?
Mike: Not a chance, unless it were to be a total skeptic or put the skeptic’s point of view. I’ve been involved in a lot of these things. You’ll find some of them in that document I sent with this email. The most recent one I haven’t noted is with a Japanese film company late last year. They did interview me extensively in UNSW. They also left cameras set up in the bush on the presumption that they would catch one in pictures. Needless to say, they haven’t had any success. The reason is that Thylacines are so smart they have found out how to use digital cameras and know how to erase images they don’t want anyone to see.
Professor Archer also had this information to add....
The Lazarus and Thylacine DeExtinction Projects
The TED talk I gave via the TEDx DeExtinction event held on 15 March 2013 can be accessed either via http://www.ted.com/…/michael_archer_how_we_ll_resurrect_the… or http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/7650.
A newspaper story by Nicky Phillips that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 March, 2013 (p. 1), is available online: http://www.smh.com.au/…/extinct-frog-hops-back-into-the-gen…. Another by Lisa Clauson that explores a range of issues related to the Lazarus Project appeared in various media on 22 June, 2013: http://www.smh.com.au/n…/waking-the-dead-20130617-2ocz4.html. Qantas Magazine also did a short feature article on the Lazarus Project: http://travelinsider.qantas.com.au/bright_ideas_scientist_m… . A documentary about the current state of the Lazarus Project prepared by Visionquest Pty Ltd which was released as a co-production with the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 7 March, 2017. Another short web document with some simple animation, intended for the general public, was produced by the University of New South Wales and can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dirLxqvXQG0. Guinness World Records 2016 includes the Lazarus Project for a new world record: ‘First living embryo grown from an extinct frog’.
There is an earlier Discovery Channel documentary about the Thylacine Project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3gNW7LbO0M. More recently (2016), Fivethirtyeight has produced a short TV documentary about the idea or recovering ancient DNA from Thylacines to try to bring them back to life: http://fivethirtyeight.com/…/the-scientist-trying-to-rever…/.
For what it’s worth, you can hear a debate between me and the Executive Editor of Scientific American about the merits of deExtinction occurred on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (http://www.cbc.ca/toothandclaw/popupaudio.html…). Another web discussion about DeExtinction was released in 2017 by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tv5vl. Its focus was (I think—haven’t listened to it yet!) on mammoths, passenger pigeons and the Bucardo among others.
In November, 2013, Time Magazine announced that the Lazarus Project was one of world’s 25 best ‘inventions’ for 2013 (http://phys.org/news/2013-11-lazarus-frog-resurrection.html) and one of the five featured online (http://techland.time.com/…/the-25-best-inventions-of-the-y…/). The Australian Science Media Centre has also listed the Lazarus Project as one the top 10 science stories for 2013 (http://www.smc.org.au/2013/12/top-ten-science-stories-2013/…).
Revive & Restore was the main organizer of the TEDxDeExtinction event in Washington, DC on March 15th. If you are looking at the field of deExtinction more generally, and where it is headed, then Revive's co-founders Stewart Brand or Ryan Phelan are important spokespeople for the overall concept of deExtinction. A 17 May, 2013, summary by David Biello of all of the talks given at this event can be seen at http://longnow.org/…/tedxdeextinction/tedxdeextinction-2013/.
Also, the National Geographic Society (NGS) devoted the cover story of their April 2013 edition to deExtinction, so you can find all kinds of content about this subject on their website by clicking here, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/deextinction. They have been involved to date with all of the meetings of scientists around the world focusing on deExtinction research projects.
A very readable and authoritative book published in 2016 reviews progress made on both the Thylacine and Lazarus Projects as well as a range of other current DeExtinction projects around the world: Bring back the king: the new science of de-extinction’ by Helen Pilcher (https://www.amazon.com/Bring-Back-King-Science…/…/147291225X).
We haven’t yet published on our Lazarus Project because we were keeping the research quiet until we discovered just how far we could get. The Revive & Restore organisation (part of the Long Now Foundation) and the National Geographic Society enticed many of us working on deExtinction projects around the world to come out from our ‘closets’ so to speak, to meet in October 2012 and mid March 2013, to talk with each other about our goals, aspirations and challenges. This has led to new multi-institutional collaborations that should accelerate progress on projects currently underway. It certainly has with our Lazarus Project via new links with Advanced Cell Technology in Boston. We are now preparing papers for publication about progress to date on the Lazarus Project and will continue to do so.
If you know anyone who can help support this research, we’d be delighted to hear from them. The Lazarus Project is only possible because of the Lazarus Fund that’s been established in UNSW in Sydney. Dick Smith and Gary Johnston (CEO of Jaycar) have been extremely helpful in providing core private funding that’s enabled the Lazarus Project to achieve what we’ve managed so far. This support does not in any way undermine support for any conventional conservation project because it is ‘new money’. Of course there’s still more to be done so further donations are going to be important if we’re to have any hope of achieving the ultimate goal—the Gastric-brooding Frog hopping glad to be back in the world again.
It’s probable that if we’re successful in bringing back Gastric-brooding Frogs, it may be necessary to splice in a gene for resistance to this fungus prior to release of populations back into the wild. The gene demonstrating resistance in frog populations around the world is currently the subject of research (e.g., http://www.pnas.org/content/108/40/16705.short).
In the meantime it’s great to know that bright folk all around the world are as excited as we are about the possibilities of bringing extinct species back into the world, particularly those that are gone because of something we humans did—or should have done but didn’t. If we broke it, I strongly believe that we should try to fix it, if we can. DeExtinction represents a new, potentially very important conservation tool to optimise biodiversity in the world for all the reasons we know this is important. It’s not an alternative or a threat to more conventional conservation programs, and it could be very important in terms of developing techniques to secure currently endangered species by cross-species cloning (e.g., by using common species to build up the numbers of their endangered relatives) as well as by bringing back potentially keystone species whose absence threatens the stability of the ecosystems of which they were once a part. Removal of wolves from Yellowstone National Park, for example, resulted in severe downstream environmental damage which was only reversed when wolves were returned.
We need every kind of effective arrow in the conservationist’s quiver we can get to stop the current accelerating slippage into the world’s 6th mass extinction event. DeExtinction research has the potential to produce one of the most important compatible arrows of this kind.
Prof. Michael Archer, PANGEA Research Center
School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of New South Wales, Sydney AUSTRALIA 2052
http://www.pangea.unsw.edu.au/…/academic-res…/michael-archer; http://www.create.unsw.edu.au/team/marcher/; m.archer@unsw.edu.au