Canberra, May 20 : If scientists have their way, dinosaurs might once again roam the Earth, with the possibility arising after the DNA of the extinct Tasmanian tiger was injected and brought back to life in a mouse embryo.
In the world-first experiment, DNA was extracted from baby Tasmanian tigers, which had been pickled in alcohol at Melbourne's Museum Victoria for a century.
The tigers were babies in their mothers' pouches when they were killed and preserved.
Tasmanian tigers have been extinct in the wild for about 100 years, with the last one of its kind dying in captivity in Hobart Zoo in 1936.
Part of a nine-year experiment conducted by Melbourne University zoologists Andrew Pask and Marilyn Renfree, the experiment proved the tiger DNA was able to grow cartilage and bone in the mouse, showing the extinct gene could be brought back to life
"This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism," said Dr Pask.
"Up until now we have only been able to examine gene sequences from extinct animals. This research was developed to go one step further to examine extinct gene function in a whole organism," he added.
According to Dr Pask, the same technique could now be used with other extinct species such as the dinosaur, mammoth and neanderthal, all of which scientists had large amounts of DNA available.
The suggestion that dinosaurs could be revived from samples of their DNA was popularised by the best-selling book and hit movie Jurassic Park.
Dr Pask said that while the technique could recreate only a single extinct gene, with technology advancing all the time, it could one day be possible to bring whole creatures back to life.
"I have no doubt the whole creature could be brought back to life in the future," he said.
The study proved for the first time that it was possible to resurrect the function of an extinct gene, according to Professor Renfree.
"This study has proved you can use DNA material from extinct animals and see what function they have," she said.
As well as paving the way to recreate extinct species in the future, the research could also have potential bio-medical therapeutic outcomes.
"It gives us the ability to unleash the potential of extinct species," said Dr Pask.