This Billion-Dollar Company Is Trying To Bring The Dodo Back From Extinction

It’s already been 361 years since anyone saw a dodo, the strange-looking bird that has become a symbol of extinction. However, Colossal Biosciences, a Dallas-based business, aims to bring them back.

The number of extinct species that this genetic engineering company hopes to resurrect is expanding. This new initiative, launched on Tuesday, would save a species that has historically been used as an example of how people may cause the extinction of an animal species.

According to Bloomberg, the last dodo died in 1681. However, more than five centuries ago, Portuguese sailors found the dodo on the island of Mauritius, which is located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

According to the site, the birds, larger than turkeys, were killed for food. Dodo eggs were eaten by pigs and other animals brought to the island.

“The dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we – people – made it impossible for them to survive in their native habitat,” said Beth Shapiro, lead paleogeneticist and a member of Colossal’s scientific advisory board, in the announcement.

Shapiro, a professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, led a team that announced the sequence of the dodo genome in March 2022.

“I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the dodo,” she said. “I particularly look forward to furthering genetic rescue tools focused on birds and avian conservation.”

Colossal’s biotech and genetic engineering teams are fusing woolly mammoth and elephant DNA to build a next-generation mammoth capable of thriving in the Arctic and contributing to the ecosystem’s restoration.

“These embryos will be implanted into healthy female elephant surrogates with our first calves expected in 5 years,” accounting for the 22-month gestation period, Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal told USA TODAY.

Colossal is forming an Avian Genomics Group to restore the dodo and, eventually, other extinct bird species “through genetic rescue techniques and its de-extinction toolkit,” according to the company’s release.

The company also announced $150 million in investments, bringing its total funding to $225 million since its debut in September 2021.

The utilization of gene editing and biotech developments for extinction “will inevitably have utility in the human healthcare field,” according to Lamm. 

“We’ll be building new tools to enable more complex editing protocols, which will advance state of the art compared to what is available in the healthcare industry,” he said.

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