Geneticists want to resurrect dodo birds. Why are other scientists against it?

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(ORDO NEWS) — Hundreds of years ago, on the island of Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean, dodo birds lived – they are also known as Mauritian dodos.

They were small but very fleshy creatures that shared many characteristics with pigeons.

They would have lived well today, but in 1598 Dutch sailors appeared on the island, after which the birds that could not fly became easy prey for both the sailors and the cats that arrived with them – until that moment there was not a single predator on the island.

People so quickly exterminated dodo birds that they did not even have time to notice it, and for some time these creatures were considered mythical animals.

350 years have passed since the disappearance of the Mauritian dodo, and soon Colossal Biosciences wants to correct this mistake of mankind by resurrecting an ancient bird. Let’s figure it out

How scientists are going to resurrect animals

This is not the first time Colossal Biosciences has promised the world to resurrect extinct animals.

In 2021, the head of the company, geneticist George Church, announced that he and his colleagues would be able to revive the ancient mammoths.

In 2022, it became known that they also intend to bring the Tasmanian tiger back to life.

Despite the fact that the previous plans were not implemented, the researchers set themselves another task – to resurrect the dodo bird.

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Tasmanian tigers are also known as marsupial wolves. It is believed that they are still alive

It is important to note that this is not about cloning an ancient animal. The company is already well aware that the closest living relative of the Mauritian dodo is the Nicobar pigeon.

Geneticists intend to identify all the differences between a dodo bird and a dove, and then determine “what makes a dodo a dodo.”

After that, they will take the Nicobar pigeon and edit its genes so that it becomes as similar as possible to the dodo bird.

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Nicobar pigeon

Endangered animal species – how to save them?

Ultimately, it turns out that Colossal Biosciences will not create an exact copy of the dodo bird, but simply something similar to it.

According to staff paleogeneticist Beth Shapiro, no one can recreate a 100% identical copy of something that no longer exists.

By resurrecting (if you can call it that) the Mauritian dodo, the company wants to draw public attention to the problem of the extinction of existing animals.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 41,000 species of animals are now threatened with extinction – here are some of them.

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By resurrecting the dodo bird, geneticists want to draw people‘s attention to the extinction of animals

On the one hand, the desire of Colossal Biosciences to revive dodos to draw attention to a serious problem is commendable.

On the other hand, this makes no sense – many scientists believe that the millions of dollars collected for the revival of the dodo bird are better spent on protecting existing species.

For example, Ewan Birney, Deputy Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, shared this opinion with The Guardian.

The question is not only whether you can [resurrect animals] do it, but also whether you should do it.

There are people who think that since they can do something, they must.

But I’m not sure if this is really the best allocation of resources.

We have to save the species we have before they go extinct,” Birney said.

Biologist Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Canada is of the same opinion. According to him, the priority of scientists should be to prevent the extinction of animals.

It is unlikely that by resurrecting the dodo bird, the company will be able to save the lives of other birds and living creatures.

But if you use the collected money to stop deforestation, to fight poachers, and so on, you can get more noticeable results. Most likely, this will require much less money than creating a copy of an ancient animal.

There are so many things that desperately need our help.

Why even try to save something that has long disappeared when there are so many things that are in a desperate situation, added paleontologist Julian Hume.

How much does animal resurrection cost

Colossal Biosciences really wants to spend a huge amount of money on the resurrection of ancient animals. They recently raised $150 million in funding.

Since she started raising money in 2021, she has already raised 225 million. Despite criticism from colleagues, geneticists from the company are unlikely to change their plans.

It is not clear when exactly this will happen, but in the future we have a chance to see live mammoths, the Tasmanian tiger and the dodo bird. These will not be exact copies, but something similar to them.

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Dodo bird skeleton and its artificial copy in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, 1938


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