Extinct frog species that gives birth through its mouth comes close to resurrection

Nicole Lafond Contributor
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Australian researchers hope to soon resurrect a 30-year extinct species of frog that gives birth through its mouth.

The frog species, known as Platypus frogs, have been extinct since 1983, but researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia recently brought back to life the Platypus frog genome. The project has been named the “Lazarus Project,” as the “de-extinction” effort aims to bring the frog back to life, according to a statement released by Newcastle.

The Platypus frogs, also known as gastric-brooding frogs, were unique in that they swallowed their eggs upon fertilization, brooded them in their stomachs and gave birth through their mouths.

Tissue from the frogs was collected and frozen in 1970 by the University of Adelaide. The Lazarus Project team then recovered dead cell nuclei from these frozen tissue samples. Researchers took eggs from a distantly related frog species and replaced the nuclei in the donor eggs with the dead cell nuclei of the Platypus frog, ABC News reported.

The embryos survived a few days, and researchers were able to confirm the hybrid genome’s cells as containing the Platypus frog’s genetic matter.

The project team leader said they plan on performing more cloning experiments in the future, according to the Newcastle statement.

“We’re increasingly confident that the hurdles ahead are technological and not biological and that we will succeed,” team leader, Professor Mike Archer of the University of New South Wales, said. “Importantly, we’ve demonstrated already the great promise this technology has as a conservation tool when hundreds of the world’s amphibian species are in catastrophic decline.”

The gastric-brooding frog was native to Australia and it is unclear why they became extinct.

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Nicole Lafond