Scientists plan to ‘resurrect’ the dodo 400 years after its extinction
A genetic engineering company has announced its plan to revive dodos, which have been extinct for over 400 years.
The dodo is one of the most famous extinct creatures on the planet, and it is a creature that stands out historically as a case of how humans contributed to the extinction of an animal species.
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— Colossal Biological Sciences (@itiscolossal) February 1, 2023
Thanks to advances in science and the creation last year of the first successful flightless bird complete genome sequencing, experts believe the dodo has the potential for a resurgence before the end of the decade.
Colossal Biosciences, an American startup based in Dallas, Texas, has revealed plans to “resurrect” the dodo more than 350 years after it was extirpated from the island of Mauritius in the seventeenth century.
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— Colossal Biological Sciences (@itiscolossal) January 31, 2023
The company will invest $150 million in a new project that will go hand in hand with previously announced projects to revive the woolly mammoth and the extinct Tasmanian tiger.
To achieve this, the scientists first had to sequence the entire dodo genome from bone samples and other fragments, which they did.
They then had to genetically modify a skin cell from a living relative, the Nicobar pigeon, to match the genome of the extinct bird.
This genetically modified cell would then be used to create an embryo, just like Dolly the Sheep in 1996, and placed in a live surrogate mother.
Scientists hope that the hatched chick will be something between a Nicobar pigeon and a dodo. The team intends to achieve this goal within the next six years.
However, Beth Shapiro, chief paleontologist and scientific advisory board member for Colossal, which is leading a project to revive the dodo after extinction, warned that it would not be easy to recreate a “living, breathing, real animal” in the form of a 3-foot-tall (one meter) bird.
It was Shapiro’s team that first sequenced the complete bird genome in March 2022, after spending years searching for adequately preserved DNA.
The last confirmed sighting of the dodo was in 1662, after Dutch sailors first discovered the species just 64 years earlier, in 1598.
According to Britannica.com, Portuguese sailors discovered the dodo on the island of Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, more than five centuries ago.
The site said that these birds, which were larger than turkeys, were killed for their meat. And they became the prey of cats, dogs and pigs, which were brought with the sailors exploring the Indian Ocean. His inability to fly made him easy prey.
The Dodo got its name from the Portuguese word for “stupid” after the hunter colonists ridiculed its apparent lack of fear.
Professor Shapiro added: “The Dodo is a prime example of the extinction of a species because we humans made it impossible for it to survive in its natural habitat. Throughout my career, I have focused on genetic engineering in ancient DNA and being the first to make a series” I am thrilled to be collaborating with Colossal and the people of Mauritius in bringing dodos back to extinction and I am especially looking forward to promoting and preserving bird-centric genome rescue tools.”
Source: Daily Mail
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