No time soon will we see the dodo bird return. Neither will the wooly mammoth. However, a business developing technology to bring back extinct animals has drawn additional investors, despite the fact that other experts are dubious about the feasibility of such an endeavor. Two years after originally announcing its ambitious goal to bring back the woolly mammoth, Colossal Biosciences revealed on Tuesday that it also intended to bring back the dodo bird. According to Ben Lamm, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Colossal, “the dodo is a symbol of man-made extinction.” The business established a section to concentrate on genetic technology relevant to birds.
On the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the last dodo, a flightless bird approximately the size of a turkey, was slain in 1681. The 2021 startup from Dallas also disclosed on Tuesday that it has secured an extra $150 million in investment. It has so far raised $225 million from a diverse group of investors, including the CIA’s venture capital company In-Q-Tel, Breyer Capital, and the United States Innovative Technology Fund.
According to Lamm, the possibility of reintroducing the dodo won’t likely result in immediate financial gain. However, he said that the company’s developed genetic tools and machinery may be used for other purposes, such as improving human health. According to Beth Shapiro, a molecular biologist on Colossal’s scientific advisory board who has been researching dodos for two decades, the Nicobar pigeon is the closest living relative of the dodo. To determine “what are the genes that really make a dodo a dodo,” her team intends to compare the DNA of the dodo to that of the Nicobar pigeon.The team might try altering Nicobar pigeon cells to resemble dodo cells. According to Shapiro, it might be conceivable to insert the modified cells into the developing eggs of other bird species, such as pigeons or chickens, to produce kids that might naturally produce dodo eggs. For dodos, the idea is still in its infancy as a theoretical construct.
Shapiro stated that “it’s not conceivable to rebuild a 100% identical replica of something that’s gone” since animals are a result of both their DNA and their environment, which has changed significantly since the 1600s. Other scientists question whether it’s even a good idea to try and whether “de-extinction” diverts resources away from efforts to conserve species that are still alive on Earth.
Ecologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University, who has no affiliation with Colossal, warned that there is a genuine danger in asserting that if we ruin nature, we can just put it back together again. And other than in a cage, where on Earth would you keep a wooly mammoth? Pimm said that the environments where mammoths once inhabited have long since vanished.