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SciTech

Spanish scientists look at cloning extinct goat


An extinct species just might get the chance to walk the Earth once more  in the near future: the Pyrenian ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica), a creature that went the way of the dinosaurs at the dawn of the 21st century.

While the Pyrenian ibex is certainly no Velociraptor, the possibility of bringing a dead species back to life is definitely something quite remarkable.
 
As a result of an agreement between the Aragon Hunting Federation and the Centre for Research and Food Technology of Aragon (CITA), Spanish scientists have received funding to test whether cells frozen in liquid nitrogen for the past 14 years can be used to clone this extinct species of mountain goat.
 
The Pyrenian ibex, also known as the bucardo in Spain, was a native of the Iberian Peninsula, and were most common in the Cantabrian Mountains and the Northern Pyrenees. Its numbers dwindled during the early 1900s partly due to hunting, and the last living specimen, a female named Celia, was killed by a falling tree in 2000. 
 
The preserved cells that the Spanish scientists are currently examining were derived from Celia’s skin.
 
A second shot at 'de-extinction'
 
This isn’t the first time that Celia is getting a shot at being cloned, though.
 
In 2003, scientists succeeded in cloning a bucardo calf from Celia’s cells. Celia’s genetic material was injected into goat eggs that were emptied of their own DNA. The eggs were then implanted into surrogate mothers - hybrids between Spanish ibex and domestic goats. Only one out of 57 implantations survived long enough to be born alive; sadly, the calf died immediately after birth due to respiratory failure.
 
A successful attempt at cloning would only be the initial step towards resurrecting the species. Scientists would need to pair the cloned bucardos with a different species of ibex for the creature’s “de-extinction” to gradually take place.
 
No 'Bucardo recovery plan' yet
 
Don’t expect a “Bucardic Park” anytime soon, though.
 
Dr Alberto Fernandez Arias, head of the Aragon Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands Service, confirms that the team is focused on testing the viability of the cells for cloning. "At this moment, we are not initiating a 'bucardo recovery plan', we only want to know if Celia's cells are still alive after having been maintained frozen during 14 years in liquid nitrogen," Arias said in an interview with the BBC.

"In this process, one or more live female bucardo clones could be obtained. If that is the case, the feasibility of a bucardo recovery plan will be discussed."
 
The bucardo is just one of the many extinct species that scientists are attempting to bring back. Other examples are the thylacine and the gastric-brooding frog, which are both from Australia. — TJD, GMA News
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