A leading Australian scientist has dismissed as “outrageous” attempts to use DNA cloning to bring back an extinct animal known as the Tasmanian tiger.

Janette Norman, the senior curator of molecular biology at Museum Victoria, said the bid to use DNA from a thylacine pup that has been preserved in ethanol since 1866 was folly.

“I’d stake my life that there won’t be a living thylacine in 10 years,” Norman said.

She said the DNA from the preserved thylacine, a marsupial which resembled a dog with tiger-like stripes down its back, would have broken down into tiny fragments with some pieces missing.

To reconstruct the thylacine genome would be far more complex than assembling a multi-level jigsaw with some missing pieces and no picture, she said.

“You’re looking at five Nobel Prizes to overcome what we don’t know about it,” she said, calling the cloning project “outrageous”.

Norman is the latest of a number of scientists who have dismissed the tylacine cloning project run by scientists at Sydney’s Australian Museum.

That team insists the extinct animal — popularly known as a Tasmanian tiger — can be reassembled from DNA taken from the preserved pup.

The last known thylacine died in 1936.