Endangered fish enter Frozen Ark

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Several endangered species of aquarium fish have been preserved in a deep freeze as part of the Frozen Ark Project.

The project, which represents the world's first databank of the DNA of endangered species, is being run by scientists working at The Natural History Museum in London.

The Frozen Ark Project aims to use modern cryogenic preservation techniques to store DNA and tissue samples from all of the world's endangered animals, allowing a valuable reference collection to be established for taxonomists and conservation biologists.

The Banggai cardinal, Pterapogon kauderni, and a species of seahorse have been among the first endangered aquarium fishes to enter the deep freeze.

Professor Phil Rainbow of the Museum says that the project may be able to do great things in the future as techniques in molecular biology are rapidly advancing.

Says Rainbow: "Natural catastrophes apart, the current rate of animal loss is the greatest in the history of the Earth and the fate of animal species is desperate.

"Progress in molecular biology has been so fast that we cannot predict what extraordinary things may be possible in the next few decades. For future biologists and conservationists and for the animals they seek to protect this global network will be of immeasurable value".