It has been extinct since the 1660s, but now scientists are hoping to bring the dodo bird back to life.
A company called Colossal Biosciences has just announced plans to resurrect the bird and release it in its natural habitat.
You may know the flightless bird from the well-used phrase “dead as a dodo” but evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro wants that saying to go extinct.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the dodo,” Shapiro said. “It’s the poster child, in a sad way, for how human habitat alteration can drive species to extinction.”
“I think this is an opportunity where, given the man-made nature of the extinction of the dodo, man could not only bring the dodo back, but also fix what was done to parts of the ecosystem to reintroduce them,” said Ben Lamm, who co-founded Colossal Biosciences.
“There’s a lot of benefits from a conservation perspective, in terms of what we can learn from rewilding.”
The scientists are planning on creating a “proxy” version of the extinct bird.
That means they’ll use edited DNA so the new dodo won’t be an exact clone of the original one.
The proposed dodo-like creature will be made using genomes painstakingly sequenced from real dodo specimens.
There will be an attempt to put these together with genomes from close relatives of the flightless bird.
Together, this could create a full set of genomes that can be edited and used to create the right set of genetic ingredients for a new dodo.
“The hope is that we can use, first, comparative genomics so we can get at least one, and hopefully more, dodo genomes that we can use to look and see how dodos are similar to each other, and different from things like the solitaire,” Shapiro said.
The Rodrigues solitaire is another type of extinct bird and a close relative to the dodo.
Although the process of gene editing and creating the new animal will likely take a very long time, the researchers look forward to releasing the animal into the wild.
They hope to put their new version of the dodo on the island of Mauritius, where its long-lost ancestor once called home.