The dodo bird has been extinct since the late 17th century, yet its resurrection is a topic of obsession for some researchers and scientists. Scientists around the world have pitted themselves against the constraints of time and made it one of the focal points of their research, with the goal of bringing the bird back from the dead.
It was called the “dodo bird”. It did not fly and was easily hunted. That’s why it became extinct very quickly, when humans met him. It lived on the island of Mauritius. Now, more than one initiative wants to bring it back to our times. The obsession to resurrect the dodo bird has many factors.
The biotech company Colossal Biosciences (Texas, USA) announced it. It seeks the same for mammoths and the Tasmanian tiger. Why this animal? Teknautas Borja Milá is a researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences. He explains that in the USA it arouses a lot of affection, a very emotional reaction. Its story is told a lot in museums and schools, he says.
These birds lived on an island without predators. Therefore, when the Spaniards found them in the 16th century, it was very easy to kill them. They did not even last a century. But they appear in popular culture in later centuries. For example, Alice in Wonderland.
But it will be a very arduous challenge. It has no close relatives. Nicobar’s pigeon comes close, but there are still abysmal differences. They will use primordial germ cells from this species to edit them using CRISPR techniques. They will make them similar to those of the dodo and then insert them into embryos. Where? It would have to be a large bird. Maybe an emu. But the risks of failure are enormous.
The fiction of the cinema made believe that it is not impossible. But in a similar case, with the extinct bucardo, a Pyrenean goat, there was a bad experience. They managed to clone the last specimen. It was born, but due to its malformations, it died a few minutes later.
Validity of the study
The study was published in Cell. Tom Gilbert is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen. “If you’re going to invest those amounts of money there are better conservation targets,” he laments. Some biologists warn that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species on Earth. The island of Mauritius even has species on the verge of extinction. So the obsession with resuscitating the dodo bird seems frivolous.
It is hoped that, at the very least, the research will help the conservation of other birds. “It could be applied to issues such as problems of loss of genetic diversity,” they point out. In the meantime, it’s hard to think you’ll be able to take a picture with a dodo for your Instagram.