The now- extinct Tasmanian tiger was a dog-like marsupial once widespread in Australia. From a bone sample collected in Tasmania before 1893, ancient DNA pioneers Allan Wilson and Svante Pääbo recovered short stretches of mitochondrial DNA with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. A comparison with mitochondrial DNA from six types of living marsupials from South America and Australia showed that the Tasmanian tiger was closely related to current carnivorous Australian marsupials, such as the tiger quoll. It also demonstrated that DNA retrieval from museum specimens by PCR was a successful approach to studying extinct animals.
Did you know? The last Tasmanian tiger, called Benjamin, died in captivity on September 7, 1936 at Hobart Zoo after being left out in the cold.