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Today In Awesome Science News: A Texas Biotech Company Is Looking To Reincarnate the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger

WHOA. The first thing I thought when seeing this is "Why would a startup spend money trying to bring back an extinct dangerous creature? How is that going to make them money?" But then I read their whole pitch and it's pretty interesting.

But first...What is the Tasmanian Tiger?

From Colossal:

There isn’t much room for debate when it comes to identifying the main cause of the thylacine’s extinction. The thylacine was wiped from existence by very determined efforts of European settlers to hunt and eradicate it. This was due to the thylacine’s nature as a carnivore, often feeding on livestock, and ultimately leading to its categorization as a pest animal.

So much so that in 1830, the Van Diemens Land Co. introduced a bounty on the thylacine. Several decades later in 1888, the Tasmanian Parliament placed an official bounty of 1 pound on thylacines, according to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, is a large carnivorous marsupial that officially went extinct in 1936. As the only member of the family Thylacinidae to survive into modern times, the sharply-clawed thylacine possessed a lean and athletic appearance with sandy yellowish-brown to gray fur and 15-20 distinct dark stripes across the back from shoulders to tail. Its canid-like skull and large jaws held 46 sharp teeth

The reason they are bringing it back is due to trophic downgrading, the decline of all wildlife and fauna due to missing pieces in the ecosystem. 

Definition: The causal degradation that occurs when apex predators are removed from an ecosystem; leading to a cascading effect down the food chain with ecological consequences on lower trophic level groups and systems.

Until recently, large apex consumers were ubiquitous across the globe and had been for millions of years. The loss of these animals may be humankind’s most destructive influence on nature. Research reveals extensive cascading effects of their disappearance in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems worldwide.

To do it they are going to do a ton of crazy science to revive it again. 

The aim is to curtail wildfires caused by trophic degradation and hopefully prevent a lot of the damage global warming is causing while also bringing back what is objectively an awesome looking animal. Seems pretty interesting and probably more promising than the Wooly Mammoth revival plan that seems to pop up every so often before flaming out.