Geneticists extracted ancient RNA from a preserved Tasmanian tiger in Sweden, 130 years after its death, revealing insights into its genetics and extinction due to hunting 2,000 years ago. While not aiming to revive the species, this discovery, termed “revolutionary” by Andrew Pask, leader of the Tasmanian tiger project, could aid de-extinction efforts. It challenges the belief that only DNA survives long-term, opening possibilities to study RNA in other extinct creatures, like the woolly mammoth, for a deeper understanding of their biology.

This new discovery challenges the idea that only DNA can survive for a long time. RNA is more fragile than DNA, but the scientists still got it from the Tasmanian tiger. This opens the door to studying RNA in other extinct animals, like the woolly mammoth. By reading the RNA in the Tasmanian tiger’s body, they found new things about how it lived. RNA is like a cookbook for an animal’s body, and it helps us understand them better than just looking at DNA.