De-Extinction of the Dodo Is Another Step Closer to Actually Happening

Wikimedia Commons // Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Lille // CC BY-SA 4.0

In a groundbreaking collaboration, a genetic engineering company, Colossal Biosciences, has joined forces with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to propel efforts in bringing the dodo back from extinction. Despite the seemingly cinematic nature of this endeavor, reminiscent of Jurassic Park, the formation of the Avian Genomics Group by Colossal Biosciences signifies a dedicated effort to revive the iconic species.

Colossal Biosciences’ Role

Colossal Biosciences, renowned for its expertise in genetic engineering and de-extinction, is at the forefront of this ambitious project. The Avian Genomics Group, established specifically for this purpose, is set to embark on the challenging journey of reviving the dodo.

Founder and CEO of Colossal Biosciences, Ben Lamm, shed light on the intricate technology behind this venture in an interview last year. Lamm emphasized the importance of identifying the closest phylogenetic relative to the extinct species, serving as a reference point for building a genome.

Gathering the DNA

Given the fragmented nature of such genetic material, obtaining tissue samples with ancient DNA further complicates the process. Colossal Biosciences managed to overcome the obstacle of limited physical remains of dodos by extracting DNA from a skull found in Denmark, reconstructing a full genome. Dodos, native to Mauritius, met their demise in the 17th century, with the last confirmed sighting in 1662.

Wikimedia Commons // Charles J. Sharp // CC BY-SA 4.0

The scarcity of genetic diversity among the remaining pink pigeons in Mauritius has also caught the attention of Colossal Biosciences. Recognizing the threat of extinction, the company is leveraging gene-editing technology to aid the struggling pink pigeon population.

A Promising Future for the Dodo

Colossal Biosciences’ collaboration with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is a pivotal development in the pursuit of de-extinction. This group, which is not driven by profit and works closely with the Mauritian government, is dedicated to protecting and bringing back native wildlife. Matt James, chief animal officer at Colossal, highlighted that making de-extinct animals successful involves letting them live and thrive in their natural homes.

As the Avian Genomics Group delves into the intricate process of reviving the dodo, the collaborative efforts between Colossal Biosciences and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation mark a significant step forward in the ambitious mission to bring back a species lost to time.