Jurassic Park in 2023? Biotechnology company Colossal Biosciences announces plans to revive the dodo bird
Tiffany Zhou | February 13, 2023
Colossal Biosciences, a biotechnology company founded in 2021, has recently added the dodo bird to its growing list of ‘de-extinction’ projects, which include the mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger.
How does the company intend to bring back the dodo?
A paleogenetic research team at U.C. Santa Cruz, in partnership with Colossal Biosciences, successfully sequenced the entire dodo genome based on mitochondrial DNA extracted from ancient dodo remains found in Northern Europe. The company plans to edit the genome of the Nicobar pigeon, a phylogenetically related species, to match that of the dodo’s. Then, they will insert the dodo genome into the Nicobar pigeon’s egg cell, and implant the eggs into surrogates to develop.
One of the biggest challenges facing the completion of the project is pioneering cloning in avian species. Other successfully cloned species, such as Dolly the sheep, have only included mammals. Another major obstacle is constructing an appropriate habitat for the dodo more than 300 years after the species went extinct.
What are the broader goals of the dodo de-extinction project?
Beyond being a passion project seeking to test the current limits of cellular and genomic engineering, the recreation of the dodo may also contribute to avian conservation efforts. This research could potentially pave the way for the introduction of more biodiversity into avian populations through the process of gene editing, therefore protecting vulnerable populations from stochastic threats. Additionally, the company’s goal of inspiring public interest in the problem of extinction is crucial, because it draws attention to the importance of protecting currently endangered animals.
Kenneally, Christine. “A ‘De-Extinction’ Company Wants to Bring Back the Dodo.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 31 Jan. 2023, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tech-company-invests-150m-to-bring-back-the-dodo/. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and Jordan Neese. “Alarm and Awe Accompany Plans to Resurrect Dodo Birds.” Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, 7 Feb. 2023, https://www.ripleys.com/weird-news/alarm-and-awe-accompany-plans-to-resurrect-dodo-birds/.