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A start-up has plans to bring back the dodo from extinction and people are divided

They plan to study the dodo's closest relative and modify genetics in order to give birth to an organism that can resemble the flightless bird.

A start-up has plans to bring back the dodo from extinction and people are divided
Image Source: Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid

Human activities and climate change pose a direct threat to our environment, including wildlife species. Several animals and birds have gone extinct owing to the direct threat of climate change, hunting, poaching, and unbalanced ecosystems. One of these is the dodo, a flightless bird that was found on the island of Mauritius. Sadly, these beautiful birds are not returning to the planet anytime soon. But a company working on technologies to bring back extinct species has sparked interest, as per The Associated Press



 

 

The organization has attracted several investors, while on the other hand, scientists feel like it is impossible to bring back these animals that no longer exist on the planet. Ben Lamm, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Colossal, said, "The dodo is a symbol of man-made extinction." The corporation has established a segment dedicated to bird-related genetic technology.



 

The last dodo, a flightless bird approximately the size of a turkey, was killed in 1681 on Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island. The Dallas-based startup, launched in 2021, also revealed, on Tuesday, it has received an extra $150 million in investment. It has received $225 million in funding from a diverse group of investors, including the United States Innovative Technology Fund, Breyer Capital and In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital business that invests in technology.



 

 

According to Lamm, the potential of restoring the dodo will not immediately generate revenue. However, the genetic tools and technology developed by the business to try to do so may have other applications, including human health care, he added. Colossal, for example, is now exploring technologies that may modify many regions of the genome at the same time. It is also developing technology for what is frequently referred to as an "artificial womb," he added.

The Nicobar pigeon is the dodo's closest living relative, according to Beth Shapiro, a genetic scientist on Colossal's scientific advisory board who has been studying the dodo for two decades. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also funds The Associated Press' Health and Science Department, pays Shapiro. Her team intends to investigate DNA differences between the Nicobar pigeon and the dodo in order to determine "what are the genes that really make a dodo a dodo," she explained. The scientists may then try to alter Nicobar pigeon cells to look like dodo cells. According to Shapiro, it may be feasible to insert the modified cells into developing eggs of other birds, such as pigeons or chickens, to generate children that will naturally produce dodo eggs. For dodos, the notion is still in its early theoretical stages.



 

 

Shapiro stated that "it's not possible to recreate a 100% identical copy of something that's gone" since animals are a result of both their DNA and their environment, which has changed considerably since the 1600s. Other scientists question whether it's even worthwhile to attempt and whether "de-extinction" diverts attention and funds away from efforts to rescue species that are still alive. Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm said, "There's a real hazard in saying that if we destroy nature, we can just put it back together again — because we can't." He asked, "And where on Earth would you put a woolly mammoth, other than in a cage?"

Conservation biologists experienced with captive breeding programs warn that it can be difficult for zoo-bred animals to adapt to the wild. It helps if they can learn from other wild creatures of their species, which future dodos and mammoths will not have, according to Boris Worm, a biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Worm said, "Preventing species from going extinct in the first place should be our priority, and in most cases, it's a lot cheaper."

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