Bringing Back the Dead

Bringing Back the Dead

By Connor Gard

In recent years, scientists have been trying to bring back an extinct species, the quagga, by selectively breeding traits through a close relative, the plains zebra.

The quagga was a species that was hunted to extinction swiftly, and the last documented quagga died in an Amsterdam zoo back in 1883.

Researchers have been interested in the idea of bringing back extinct species for some time. The Quagga Project was started after tissue samples were able to be taken from some of the preserved quagga skins. The quagga appears much like a horse in color, but it has a few stripes on its head and back like the zebra. It was these horse-like appearances that led many to believe it to be more closely related to the horse than the zebra, but through DNA analysis, scientists found that it is a much more closely related to the plains zebra.

With it being so closely related to the zebra, it is possible to selectively breed these physical traits through the zebra to yield more quagga-like zebras. This project makes zebras that appear more quagga-like and breeds them, with each generation exhibiting more quagga-like traits. While they are achieving the physical appearance of the quagga, with the little documentation available, they have no way to tell if they will be quagga-like in behavior.

The Quagga Project is an interesting take at trying to reach a goal often thought to be impossible, but with progress so far, the goal appears to be achievable with each generation appearing more like their long lost relatives.