Monday, March 18, 2013

Return of the Gastric Brooding Frog

In 1983 a frog unique to Australia was declared extinct but now scientists have bought the species, Rheobatrachus silus, back to life! The frog, known as the Gastric Brooding Frog, is notable for giving birth via its mouth having incubated the offspring in its stomach after swallowing the fertilised eggs. It was one of only two species of Platypus Frog (both now extinct) but it died out to to habitat loss and disease.

However tissue samples from the frog taken in the 1970s were implanted into cell nuclei from the eggs of a similar species, a form of cloning known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. Although the embryos only survived for a few days it is hoped that the technique could bring other extinct species back to life, the implanted cells when divided were shown to contain genetic material from the extinct frog.

Cue the Jurassic Park headlines. The team of scientists, known as the Lazarus Project, say the technology shows great promise and could be of great use to conserve the world's amphibians, which have been suffering from a great decline of late.

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