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Extinct Ibex Resurrected By Cloning 238

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the someone-call-ripley dept.
The Telegraph is reporting that for the first time an extinct animal has been brought back via cloning. The Pyrenean ibex, a type of mountain goat, was declared officially extinct in 2000, but thanks to preserved skin samples scientists were able to insert that DNA into eggs from domestic goats to clone a female Pyrenean ibex. While the goat didn't survive long due to lung defects this gives scientists hopes that it will be possible to resurrect extinct species from frozen tissue. "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 seven minutes later due to breathing difficulties, perhaps due to flaws in the DNA used to create the clone."
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Extinct Ibex Resurrected By Cloning

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:05PM (#30575606) Journal
    We can just patch the damaged or missing segments with frog DNA...
    • by bearflash (1671358) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:07PM (#30575644)
      And since they're all females, there's no way they can reproduce! I'm 100% certain that the Ibex will never escape this remote Costa Rican island
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        WTF, totally OT, but I just booted my computer and instead of the standard GNOME desktop there was some 80's style VR simulation with blocky structures representing the files on my computer. It's a good thing I know Unix, I was able to fly to the proper building to get my system back on line. Close call, though.

      • by ianare (1132971)

        I know you're joking, but we _want_ them to reproduce and to spread out as far as they can, within their historical range. Otherwise we might as well just leave them extinct.

        • Why? I thought they were just being cloned because it's cool.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by p4ul13 (560810)
          Well maybe not. As long as we're pouring on the Jurassic Park references, there was another line "your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

          The animal has been extinct for a short time, but none-the-less the norm in northern Spain for the last 9 years has been to not have ibex. Reintroducing cloned ibex to the area might cause other issues that hadn't been considered.
          • by tyrione (134248)

            Well maybe not. As long as we're pouring on the Jurassic Park references, there was another line "your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." The animal has been extinct for a short time, but none-the-less the norm in northern Spain for the last 9 years has been to not have ibex. Reintroducing cloned ibex to the area might cause other issues that hadn't been considered.

            What? Rise of Pan cults? Huge pent up demand for Ibex cheese? Fear of folks fanatical in their desire to have some Ibex horns?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          I for one welcome our mutant zombie clone goat overlords.

      • And since they're all females

        We'll all be safe so long as they aren't clever girls.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Remember Pyrenean Ibex run at 10 m/s and they do not know fear.

    • Are you kidding? The submission is a clone!
      http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/01/1657215&from=rss [slashdot.org]

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:06PM (#30575638)

    Nature will find a way.

    Did we learn nothing from Jurassic Park?

  • "one of the goats finally gave birth to a female burrito"?
    'cause I sure did.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      I was confused how this might be a troll until I read one of the replies. I suppose I'm not hip to the new slang.
  • Not exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:09PM (#30575672) Homepage Journal

    The mitochondrial DNA will not be from the IBX so what you have is still an hybrid.
    Maybe better than nothing but not really bringing the species back.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      The first generation IS a hybrid, but then you implant that with extracted DNA, and so forth so that after several generations you get something that is pretty much equivalent to the extinct species. Problem is, the process can take a hundred years. I'm still waiting for them to do this with the wooly mammoth; logic dictates that if my ancestors hunted this species to extinction, they must have been REALLY tasty!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260)

        The first generation IS a hybrid, but then you implant that with extracted DNA, and so forth so that after several generations you get something that is pretty much equivalent to the extinct species.

        How will that recover the mitochondrial DNA? What they need to do is to replace that as well, not just continue implanting the chromosomal DNA. Eventually we may learn how to do that, but we can't do it yet.

      • Well they might not have been all that tasty, but you got a lot of meat from one kill. So laziness of man might have driven their extinction instead.
        • Hey, there is NOTHING lazy about hunting something the size of an African elephant with wooden spears! Especially if they likely traveled in herds. That is serious teamwork and commitment. And it's more likely that, having to eat 300 lbs of veggies a day [principia.edu] during the ice age might have done them in!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Aeros (668253)
        better trademark the name 'Mammoth Burgers' and 'Mammoth Steaks' now then so your grandkids or great-grandkids will be wealthy!
      • by BluBrick (1924) <blubrick@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 28, 2009 @05:20PM (#30576502) Homepage

        I'm still waiting for them to do this with the wooly mammoth; logic dictates that if my ancestors hunted this species to extinction, they must have been REALLY tasty!

        Logic dictates nothing of the sort. It could be that mammoth meat tasted terrible, but a mammoth tusk was the standard price for a blowjob.

      • by Macrat (638047)

        I'm still waiting for them to do this with the wooly mammoth; logic dictates that if my ancestors hunted this species to extinction, they must have been REALLY tasty!

        Mmmmm. McMammoth sandwiches!

    • Re:Not exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pclminion (145572) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:22PM (#30575852)

      But if they have skin samples, then they do have the mitochondrial DNA. We just don't have the ability to replace that part of the cell structure. Yet. Another problem is that the specimen is female, meaning there is no Y chromosome, so we could never create a male.

      At this point we should probably be harvesting DNA from threatened species (from enough donors to form a not-completely-terrible breeding population) and storing it away somewhere.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dkh2 (29130)

        There are many species without a Y chromosome. Guppies (the aquarium fish) for example. The diff between female and male guppies is X X vs. X null.

        Humans are headed in this direction, slowly, because the human Y chromosome is non-recombinant and does not repair itself when errors or mutations occur. Whether that means males are defective or just more efficient is still up for debate.

      • Re:Not exactly. (Score:4, Informative)

        by reverseengineer (580922) on Monday December 28, 2009 @07:10PM (#30577398)
        The ability to transfer mitochondria is definitely possible, and has been for over a decade- see here [springerlink.com] for instance, where it was performed between two species of mice. I doubt they bothered with the process though, for several reasons. Mitochondrial transfer has an admittedly low success rate, and of course nuclear transfer has a low success rate, so that to produce a viable clone with both procedures would be extremely difficult. The mtDNA also has a higher mutation rate than nuclear DNA due to the reactive oxygen species the mitochondrion cranks out. It might be that there isn't much meaningful interspecies variation between the mtDNA of extinct ibex and the living egg donor, especially in relation to intraspecies variation.

        Also, the mitochondrial DNA in most mammals is about 17,000 base pairs. The average mammalian nuclear genome is a few billion base pairs. The nuclear DNA represents over 99.99% of the total DNA, and given that I'd assume domestic goat mtDNA to have at the very least a 98% concurrence with Pyrenean ibex mtDNA, you'd be looking at a variability consistent with the overall error rate of DNA. The preservation, cloning, and IVF steps likely swamp interspecies mtDNA variation as an overall source of genetic error.
        • [The nuclear DNA is so high a percentage etc. that a DNA-only transplant might be considered a full reconstruction.]

          Also: They can always clone the mitochondrial DNA into something suitable (like goats again) and later harvest eggs with the right mitochondria, insert DNA from members of a wrong-mitochondira reconstruction, and produce new clones with both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA of the species to be recovered.

          Fly in the ointment might be if the co-evolving mitochondrial and nuclear DNA had diverged s

      • by owlstead (636356)

        At this point we should probably be harvesting DNA from threatened species (from enough donors to form a not-completely-terrible breeding population) and storing it away somewhere.

        I don't see the point. The main reasons that we don't have these animals any more is because we've destroyed their habitat. As long as we are not restoring or replacing those habitats, what use is it to resurrect the animals that used to live in it? I mean, do we want to have a zoo that keeps all the extinct animals? For what reason?

    • by ianare (1132971)

      I guess it could be a hybrid in a very strict sense, but generally 'hybrid' means mixing of nuclear DNA. The mtDNA doesn't really control anything, even the mitochondria themselves are mainly controlled by the nucleus. It's a very handy way of determining maternal ancestry, but makes no real difference in behavior or appearance, at least when considering two very closely related species as is this case.

      If these trials are successful, genetic researches in the future would see an abrupt change in the mtDNA (

  • by Yo Grark (465041) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:10PM (#30575692)

    I won't goat you, I herd it's dead Jim.

    Ewe!

    Yo Grark

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:11PM (#30575694)

    Pyrenean Ibex extinct... again.

    • yesh... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thud457 (234763)
      no, no, no, no, no!

      try this :
      "This just in, Pyrenean Ibex still extinct." </Chevy Chase>
  • A new first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haxzaw (1502841) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:14PM (#30575738)
    So, this Ibex became the first species to become extinct twice?
  • But I would suggest that next time a species is down to 30 members, get samples from ALL of them. For all they know, this last one may have had some genetic defect, and pulling DNA from her eye probably didn't help her.

    • Or, how about cloning them while they're still alive?

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Hindsight is 20/20 they say.

      We haven't really been cloning all that long and as such, planning out how to best disassemble species as they become extinct isn't standard practice yet. They're still writing the RFCs, they haven't even been commented on yet, its gonna take a few tries to get it figured out.

  • Evil clone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tribbin (565963) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:25PM (#30575886) Homepage

    Recognized by the goatee

  • He said: “The delivered kid was genetically identical to the bucardo. In species such as bucardo, cloning is the only possibility to avoid its complete disappearance.”

    Except, I suppose, for the defective lungs?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It turns out that many clones are genetically identical, but not epigenetically identical. DNA methylation errors are common in nuclear transfer clones, and are thought to be responsible for at least some of the defects that often occur in clones. In particular, some imprinted genes important for normal growth and development may end up with two silenced copies instead of the expected one silent and one active, leading to effects from congenital organ defects to an increased risk of cancer. Curiously, so
  • by DorkRawk (719109)
    1 dinosaur, please!
  • $ lsb_release -c
    Codename: ibex

  • by jcr (53032)

    Wooly mammoth? Dodo? Passenger pigeon?

    -jcr

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As mentioned before, this is not an exact clone. The only thing this story proves is that they can create a hybrid animal (nothing new there) and that the researches who did this were dishonest about the product (nothing new there) and that the news media is full of a bunch of dolts with little desire or propensity for actual journalism (nothing new there either). The only thing that was created was 7 minutes of suffering.

  • I for one, welcome our newly extinct Ibex Clone overlords.
  • heh, I mis-read it as Piranha Ibex at first. I figured it must be a plot by PETA to let the little buggers fight back.
  • The article linked is dated January 31, 2009. At least the article is dated this year...

  • by VoxMagis (1036530) on Monday December 28, 2009 @05:09PM (#30576388)

    Don't you see? It's a marketing ploy by Apple!

    • Nah, we had our Apple “article” for today. You can expect the next one tomorrow. Regular like clockwork.

  • Not necessarily (Score:5, Informative)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Monday December 28, 2009 @05:09PM (#30576392) Homepage

    ...which died a seven minutes later due to breathing difficulties, perhaps due to flaws in the DNA used to create the clone.

    I have a goat herd and trust me when I say there doesn't have to be any flaws in the DNA to lose a baby. I've seen them still born, born too frail to stand up and get colostrum from mom, seen them live for a couple days and then die for no apparent reason. There's a reason goats have babies two and sometimes three at a time. The loss rate can be high, even under ideal conditions. The breed difference could account for it. Maybe the original breed had a slightly longer gestation period than modern goats.

    Back in the day I used to help a vet implant zebra embryos in horses. The take rate was a bit higher than that experiment, but we had more embryos to work with. 10% was a pretty good rate for implants and there's a lot of data on horses.

    • Back in the day I used to help a vet implant zebra embryos in horses.

      Speaking of equines, I'm hoping this will be tried with Quaggas for the extinct DNA donors.

      Zebras are essentially a striped wild donkey that is essentially not domesticable. Quaggas were an apparently a close relative that domesticated just fine and were quite useful. But they were allowed to go extinct in the mid 1800s, when the wild ones were hunted to extinction and contact with other parts of the world led the farmers who used quagga

  • please, please, pretty please

  • Nuclear transfers, no wonder the poor thing died soon after.

    Seriously, though, even if they perfect the technique and the beasties survive, and apart from the mitochondrial issue that's been posted already, you'd still have to manage to clone a sufficiently diverse population for it to become self-sustaining again. I doubt there's many extinct species for which we've got several dozen different DNA samples in good condition.

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