Cloning the extinct

1 minute read

Spanish scientists have cloned an extinct Pyrenean ibex:

Using techniques similar to those used to clone Dolly the sheep, known as nuclear transfer, the researchers were able to transplant DNA from the tissue into eggs taken from domestic goats to create 439 embryos, of which 57 were implanted into surrogate females.
Just seven of the embryos resulted in pregnancies and only one of the goats finally gave birth to a female bucardo, which died a seven minutes later due to breathing difficulties, perhaps due to flaws in the DNA used to create the clone.

That’s a pretty poor percentage. I tend to think such results from old frozen tissue aren’t surprising. They’ll do better when they have a better ability to repair tiny DNA defects. Or just to synthesize chromosomes from scratch.

I’m fascinated by the successive removal of links between parent and offspring that genetic technology allows. First, with an endangered or extinct population, a parent and its captive offspring do not share ecology or natural history. Then, with artificial insemination, father and offspring do not share a relation with the mother. A clone need not even share protoplasm with its mother; although it is its “mother’s” (or “father’s”) identical twin. With synthetic chromosomes, the only link is information.