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Partnering with the University of Melbourne and its Thylacine Integrated Gene Restoration Research Laboratory as part of these efforts, Colossal says bringing back the tiger could “rebalance the wider Tasmanian and Australian ecosystems”.
“With our planet’s biodiversity at risk, we will continue to contribute scientific resources to preserve the species and ecosystems necessary for life,” CEO Ben Lamm said.
Founded last year, Colossal aims to further develop technologies for marsupial conservation efforts and claims to be the first to apply CRISPR technology for species deextinction purposes.
The company is headquartered in Dallas with ties to Austin through its software and hardware team. Also with Lamm, who is the former CEO of Austin’s AI company Hypergiant.
Ben Lamm and co-founder George Church
The Tasmanian Tiger marks Colossal’s second de-extinction project. Ahead of its work on the Australian marsupial which was eradicated nearly a century ago, Colossal announced plans to resurrect the woolly mammoth.
Now Lamm said they’re excited to team up with the Melbourne lab, which is led by Andrew Pask, a marsupial evolutionary biologist and Tasmanian tiger expert.
Pask said this is a “historic moment” for marsupial research and that the project’s technology will influence the next generation of conservation efforts.
“Additionally, reseeding the thylacine into the Tasmanian landscape can significantly curb the destruction of this natural habitat by invasive species,” Pask said. “The Tasmanian tiger is emblematic of Australian culture. We are thrilled to be part of this team to bring back this unique and fundamental species that humanity previously eradicated from the planet.
Colossal points to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and the Tasmanian devil to Australia as examples of the importance of rewilding species in their original habitats. Through this, says Colossal, damaged ecosystems can be restored and revitalized.
To successfully birth the Tasmanian tiger, Colossal says advancement in current marsupial-assisted breeding technology is needed. The work goes beyond the Tasmanian tiger, however, and Colossal says this technology will be instrumental in preserving marsupials as a whole. The company notes that this is particularly important in Australia, which is facing a rapid rate of biodiversity loss and where marsupials are highly concentrated.
Colossal has investors like nature play group Untamed Planet and local Australian non-profit WildArk, as well as actors the Hemsworth brothers.
“Our family remains dedicated to supporting conservation efforts around the world and protecting Australia’s biodiversity is a high priority,” said Chris Hemsworth. “The extinction of the Tassie tiger has had a devastating effect on our ecosystem and we are thrilled to support the groundbreaking conservation efforts of Dr Pask and the entire Colossal team.”