Resurrecting the Dodo is possible
The Dodo is the emblematic bird of Mauritius, named Dronte de Maurice by scientists because this wingless bird was an endemic species of Mauritius before it disappeared completely after the arrival of the colonists at the end of the 17th century. An American start-up, Colossal Biosciences, has just raised about one hundred and fifty million dollars from venture capitalists and the CIA among others to resurrect the Dodo.
The start-up’s engineers have made a specialty of trying to bring back to life extinct animals, such as the woolly mammoth at the end of 2021 or the Tasmanian tiger in the summer of 2022, the announced objective being also to participate in the rebalancing of ecosystems. Only a few bones of the Dodo are preserved in museums, the start-up had to look for traces of its DNA.
This first step was completed thanks to the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Colossal Biosciences biologists then compared this DNA to the Dodo’s closest living relative, the Nicobar camel in the Indian Ocean archipelago, also known as the Nicobar pigeon.
Using genetic scissors from CRISPR technology, biologists have recreated Dodo cells that can be implanted into the eggs of other birds. Although very confident, the start-up specifies however that the resurrected Dodo will not look 100% like the original Dodo, due to the lack of evolution of the animal which did not take place in a different environment than in the 17th century.
Faced with this technological progress, some scientists prefer to draw attention to the vigilance to be had in order to avoid the disappearance of new species rather than resurrecting species that have already disappeared, and to the potential danger of letting people believe that human beings can simply repair the nature they have destroyed, when this is a much more complex subject, if not impossible to achieve.
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