Scientific advancements continually blur the lines between fiction and reality, so much so that the idea of resurrecting extinct species is no longer out of the realm of possibility. Colossal Biosciences, in collaboration with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, has set its sights on an ambitious mission: the revival of the iconic dodo bird.
Much like crafting a culinary masterpiece, the scientists at Colossal Biosciences aim to recreate the dodo by incorporating the magical ingredients called primordial germ cells (PGCs) from the Nicobar pigeon into the embryonic batter of another bird—the chicken. The full genomes of the dodo, its extinct relative solitaire, and the Nicobar pigeon serve as the equivalent of a secret recipe, guiding the creation of a bird with the physical traits of the long-lost dodo.
The hope is that the chicken embryos will rise into a new generation of bird that not only looks, but also behave like the extinct dodo. However, much like any experiment, the timeline for creating the first dodo remains uncertain, emphasizing the complex challenges that come with attempting to bring back a species through genetic manipulation. Researchers have already spent over a decade attempting the same feat for the wooly mammoth, and still they have not been successful.
Critics and skeptics raise concerns about the potential negative impacts of reintroducing a long-extinct species into a habitat that has developed a new ecosystem since its departure. However, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, in collaboration with environmental experts, has been conducting a comprehensive study to identify suitable locations for the dodo’s reintroduction in Mauritius. Contrary to fears of disruption, advocates argue that the return of the dodo could have positive effects on the ecosystem. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation suggests that the dodo may contribute to restoring mutualistic relationships and aiding in seed dispersal. By filling ecological niches left vacant for centuries, the revived dodo could potentially play a role in rejuvenating Mauritius’ unique ecosystem.
Critics emphasized that the recreation of a species from this DNA may only yield a dodo-esque creature, and overcoming the inherent complexities of such a task may take years. Some argue that the resources invested in de-extinction of the dodo could be better used for protecting the endangered species facing imminent threats right now.
The debate surrounding de-extinction technologies will undoubtedly persist, but the director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation underscores the importance of these technologies complementing rather than replacing existing conservation efforts. In a world where the past meets the future, the resurrection of the dodo remains a symbol of our collective commitment to exploring new frontiers in science and conservation.