A series of editorials exploring what progress looks like across different communities.

Words: Olivia

Most of you should already be familiar with ‘Dolly the Sheep’. For those still in the dark, Dolly came into this world in Scotland way back in 1996, cloned using another sheep’s cell.

Now there’s a bit of conjecture as to whether Dolly was the first animal cloned, but she sure became the most famous. Named after PRGRSS Store favourite Dolly Parton (bit sexist as to why tho tbh), Dolly not only represented just how far science had come but simultaneously instigated a much wider, global discussion on the ethics of progress.

Dolly and her surrogate mummy


Fast-forward to 2023 and humankind is once again being asked to consider how far we want to take our God complex. Researchers in Australia and the United States are currently exploring options to resurrect the previously extinct Tasmanian tiger, Jurassic Park-style. After sequencing the thylacine genome, scientists are now focused on developing an embryo, which will be eventually born via surrogate. It’s even got the financial backing of esteemed science lineage, the Hemsworth brothers, so what the fuck could go wrong?

This guy is legitimately one of the backers


The last known thylacine died in captivity in 1936. Before that, they were hunted to extinction by colonisers in the wild. It’s been almost 90 years since we’ve officially seen a Tasmanian tiger and we’ve been promised that we’ll see them once more. Cue the Ian Malcolm monologue.
But all jokes aside, this leads to some pretty heavy questions. If we begin applying de-extinction technologies in today’s world, what’s to stop the proliferation of environmental destruction, knowing we can simply whip up a few dozen of “whatever the fuck we’ve just wiped out” back in the lab? And, if de-extinction tech was bluntly applied to all animals that faced extinction, who knows what other consequences could follow down the line?


The science might be trying to create life, but what are we as a collective currently doing to prevent the endangerment and extinction of millions of species? More to the point, are we actually learning from our past mistakes to avoid making them again in the future?

It’s not all doom and gloom though. If successful, the researchers behind the de-extinction hope to use this technology as a way to prevent further harm to endangered animals. Which is cool, if not a very complicated Band-Aid. For now, though, they just want to bring back the Tasmanian tiger…

This is Sir Ian Wilmut with Dolly. If it all goes a little ’28 Days Later’, he’ll have a lot to answer for