Professor Mike Archer, of the University of New South Wales, announced the first successful step in reanimating an extinct frog species by the Lazarus Project on March 15, 2013, at the TEDx DeExtinction event in Washington D.C., hosted by Revive and Restore and the National Geographic Society.
The gastric-brooding frog, Rheobatrachus silus, became extinct in 1983. Frozen gastric-brooding frog cells collected before the frog became extinct were successfully introduced into donor eggs from the distantly related Great Barred Frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus. A small number of the eggs survived for a few days and reached the embryo stage.
The gastric-brooding frog was unique in that the frog stored its eggs in its stomach and gave birth through its mouth.
The new techniques are the first step in reviving now extinct species.
The researchers expect to be able to reanimate other species including the woolly mammoth, dodo, Cuban red macaw and the giant moa as well as more common animals that have become extinct in more recent times. The techniques promise the potential to save species on the verge of extinction like tigers, elephant, and rhino.
The introduction of an extinct species back into its original habitat may not be practical. After decades or millennia or extinction a given species original habitat would have adapted to exist without that species. Reintroduction of an extinct species could have the same results as the introduction of alien species to new regions.
This work is the first successful step in reanimating extinct species lost over time.
The only real requirement for potential reanimation of very ancient animals is the existence of complete DNA. Ancient species DNA has been found to exist in a few leg bones and teeth of a few dinosaurs and in frozen mammoth found in Siberia and Turkey.
Reanimation of extinct human ancestors and Neanderthals should be possible using the same methods because complete DNA has been preserved in some tooth specimens and in Otzi the Iceman. Ethical and cost considerations probably make this potential not workable.