Un-extinct for 7 Minutes

By Anupum Pant

Celia was the last Pyrenean ibex – one of the four subspecies of the Spanish ibex or Iberian wild goat, a species that is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. She died from a fallen tree on January 6th 2000. A year before she died, in National Ordesa Park in Huesca, Spain, scientists had thought forward and captured tissues from her ear, for a potential cloning in the future.

Although it was known that a cloned Ibex would have a shortened lifespan due to the aged DNA and shortened telomeres, they did not know that this one would live for only 7 minutes. Also, had it even survived, there wouldn’t have been a pure Pyrenean ibex male which could have made the sub-species un-extinct for a longer time.

After having received a green flag from the Spanish government, Advanced Cell Technology, Inc in collaboration with other scientific partners went ahead to try to use nuclear transfer cloning technology to clone the ibex. 285 embryos were reconstructed and transferred to several domestic goat surrogate mothers. Most of the attempts failed. However, one succeeded and one new pyrenean ibex was born in the year 2003. The world’s only!

Sadly, it survived for only 7 minutes because of a defect in its lungs. This was the first attempt to revive an extinct subspecies and it was successful, to some extent.

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