Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Bringing back the Tassie Tiger; the pig skin restoring human sight; what Barbie did next; and Abby the cave dog.



The last known Tassie Tiger:


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What do you get when you mix the superhero Thor with a bunch of scientists in America and Australia’s very own, now extinct Tasmanian Tiger?

You get a bold plan to bring an extinct species back to life.

You’ve seen Jurrassic Park, right? Where scientists use the DNA of long-dead dinosaurs to bring them back to life? That’s what a bunch of scientists in America, with the help of scientists in Melbourne, are hoping to do – with the backing of Aussie actor, Chris Hemsworth – best known for playing the Marvel superhero, Thor.

The Tasmanian Tiger – or thylacine as it’s otherwise known – went extinct in 1936. And though there are people on the Apple Isle who reckon they’ve spied one or two of them in the wild since then – the species has officially been considered extinct for over 70 years

The scientists reckon they have 95% of the genetic material they need to revive the species – and the rest they reckon they can borrow from an animal called the fat-tailed dunnart … which, as well as being the funniest Aussie creature’s name I have ever come across – also happens to be the marsupial on the planet that has a genetic make-up most similar to tassie tigers.

It’s wild – science-fiction sort of stuff. Which I suppose makes it perfect for Thor to be involved with – with the news yesterday Chris Hemsworth is helping to fund the effort. 

The same bunch of scientists is also said to be working on de-extincting – which is the term they use for bringing species back to life – the woolly mammoth. 

A Thor versus woolly mammoth versus Tassie Tiger battle – now that would make a good movie. 

I’ve stuck a link in today’s episode notes to video of the last known thylacine…




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today we’ve landed in Sweden .. where, on the subject of scientists doing incredible things, work is underway to use pig skin to help restore sight in humans.

Researchers at a university in Sweden have developed implants made from pig skin which have helped fix damaged corneas in humans.

The cornea is the transparent outer covering of the eye. It protects the eye – but also lets us see by focusing the light that passes through it. 

It’s estimated that some 4 million people around the world are vision impaired because of damaged corneas – with many being legally blind.

It’s hoped that this clever bit of science might help to restore sight to millions … and you thought pig skin was only good for crackling. Mmmmm.

With apologies to all the vegetarians and vegans out there .. 




If you want to take a look at how our society is changing, you could do worse than have a Squiz—see what I did there?—at Barbie. The iconic doll, first released in 1959, started out extremely skinny, with long blond hair, and wearing a strapless black and white striped swimsuit. But over the years, kids have had more options to buy Barbies who look like them and their friends. There are Barbies that are tall, curvy, and petite—which is a fancy word for not-so-tall. There are Black Barbies, Asian Barbies, and Barbies with no hair. In England, one in every four Barbies sold nowadays is in a wheelchair. You can buy astronaut Barbies, scientist Barbies, CEO Barbies, and even President Barbies. 

And yesterday, the toy company Mattel announced the release of a new Barbie—the first to ever wear hearing aids. It was created with the hearing-impaired actor Rose Ayling-Ellis who, back when she was a kid, drew hearing aids herself onto her Barbie. Now, that won’t be necessary.



And so to the state of Missouri we go – in the United States – where a family are doing cartwheels of excitement after their dog – who’d been missing for two months – was found alive in a cave. 

Abby, the 14 year old poodle hound, went missing from her home after sneaking off on an adventure with her puppy pal – Summer. 

Summer returned home after half a day – but Abby was nowhere to be seen. The owners searched high and low and posted notices on Facebook – but there was no sign of her. 

Imagine their surprise then when – two months later – a photo appeared of a dog resembling Abby – but much skinnier – was circulated on the local social media sites – huddled inside a dark cave.

She’d been found by a family who were out for a caving adventure and stumbled upon a scared, exhausted and very hungry Abby huddled in the dark.

She’s now back with her family … and doubtless NOT planning on running away again any time soon. 


Hey don’t forget in Squiz The World this week we pay a virtual visit to Indonesia – our near neighbours to the north – and find out all about the people, culture, food and language of this amazing country … the episode dropped yesterday … and tomorrow – our Squiz Kids Shortcut on Book Week will drop … where Amanda and I count down the top 20 children’s books of all time. 

Squiz The World and Squiz Kids Shortcuts are available to classrooms as part of Squiz Kids for Schools program – or to parents via our Apple Subscriber specials … if you haven’t signed up but are keen to sample – there are links to free trials of both in our episode notes … 


This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What sort of animal skin is being used to restore human eyesight?
  2. What’s the scientific name of the Tasmanian Tiger?
  3. Which popular doll now comes with hearing aids for the first time?




It’s August 18 – around the world today is Never Give Up Day .. a day to remind people facing hard times of the importance of resilience and a reminder that with the right sort of motivation – we can all move mountains. 

And it’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today …

Leah from Kempsey, Hudson from Kingsley, Tess from Ashmont, Otto from Enmore, Lucas from Pullenvale, Ivy from Adelaide and Georgia from Five Dock. 

 And belated birthday shout outs go to Mem from Yarrawonga and Maddie from Appin. 

Classroom shoutouts today go to… Class Snowy at Sturt Public School in Wagga Wagga, class 4/5F and Miss Fernandez at Cannon Hill State School, the year 6 classes with Mr Leslie and Mrs Grifffiths at Eastwood Public School, class 6J and Mrs Jay at North Rocks Public School and to class 4D at Helensvale State School. 

Lastly a special shout out to Ms Simpson and her year 5 class at the Treetops Montessori School in Perth – they have just subscribed to a Squiz Kids for Schools membership – a very big welcome to you!


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Pig
  2. Thylacine
  3. Barbie