Scientists Clone Frog that Upchucks Its Offspring Back from Extinction

Why this frog in particular? Difficult to say.

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Alas, it still won’t give us feisty dinosaurs from the Triassic, but scientists have managed to use a cloning technique to resurrect an extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking its little ones.

(WATCH: Coffee-Powered Car Breaks World Record)

No really, this type of frog incubates its eggs in its stomach — a technique known as”gastric-brooding” — sort of like the gut-dwelling monstrosities in the Alien films. Except its completely non-sinister babies don’t come tearing out of their mother’s stomachs, they simply make their way up the gullet and out of the mouth. The eggs are coated in an acid-inhibiting substance, which allows the embryos to do their thing undisturbed.

And yet by 1983, gastric-brooding frogs had become extinct for reasons no one’s entirely clear on (scientists suspect various non-human causes, including habitat loss, parasites and a type of fungal infection). How do you bring an odd-sounding creature like this back? With somatic-cell nuclear transfer cloning, of course.

Popular Science explains that scientists at the University of Newscastle in Australia (the frogs had been native to the eastern part of the country) took a related frog, neutralized its eggs, then swapped them for eggs extracted from a gastric-brooding frog, harvested decades ago and cryo-preserved in a conventional freezer. Somatic-cell nuclear transfer, whereby an inert cell nucleus is implanted into a fresh egg, allowed the eggs to begin dividing and the process took wing from there.

What do you call a quest to resurrect a species that would otherwise have been lost forever? Amazing, of course, but also the “Lazarus Project” — what else?

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32 comments
BabuG.Ranganathan
BabuG.Ranganathan

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Babu G. Ranganathan
(B.A. Bible/Biology)

Keepitreal
Keepitreal

Umm...habitat loss is a human cause, duh. Humans build on and/or pollute habitats.

DeliciousCake
DeliciousCake

@Keepitreal habitat loss can also be natural.

martinrazy
martinrazy

@_FHR_ Je peux faire un Jurassic Park suédé avec des grenouilles.

jennefer_gore
jennefer_gore

This is too cool! %s “%s: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. Wait, why? | %sKNU”

EihpoSono
EihpoSono

@TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. Wait, why? | ti.me\/ZYG3YuaAi” Why we go to school.

miminyirenda
miminyirenda

@TIME before u know it. We'll hear they've resurrected t-rex, scientist are good that way. Lol

montezvma
montezvma

Seriously what now? “@TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. Wait, why? ti.me\/ZYG3Yuf1U”

mringwald2
mringwald2

Everything about this is strange RT @TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. ti.me\/ZYG3Yua4j

abonavita25
abonavita25

@TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. | ti.me\/ZYG3YuFfN” Make that reason #500 why I hate frogs.

jacque_black
jacque_black

@TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. Wait, why? | ti.me\/ZYG3Yue4X” new meaning to happy barfday

BragaD
BragaD

Spielberg et al. (1993) RT “@TIME: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking. Wait, why? | ti.me\/ZYG3YuamY”

david_buer
david_buer

This cloning\/birth thing is amazing. MT@TIMEE: Scientists resurrect extinct frog that gives birth by upchucking.ti.me\/ZYG3YuuwcQ

DittoPost
DittoPost

@TIME Frog barf? Reminds me of Senate Dem budget plan

GeorgeBowman
GeorgeBowman like.author.displayName 1 Like

What about the mitochondrial DNA?  Is that from the surrogate or the parent of the nuclear DNA?