A billion dollar startup plans to bring the dodo back from the dead, and claims it can also revive the woolly mammoth.

An artist's illustration shows a white dodo looking towards the camera on a white background.

Collossal Biosciences aims to revive the ancient dodo using gene editing.David Tiling/Educational Image Group/Universal Images via Getty Images

  • Colossal Biosciences, a biotech company, says it will aim to revive the dodo using gene editing.

  • This is the latest attempt to revive extinct animals in the face of the biodiversity crisis.

  • Other projects include bringing back the Tasmanian wolf and the woolly mummy.

Billion dollar startup Colossal Biosciences claims it is one step closer to reviving the dodo, a flightless bird that has been extinct since the 17th century.

The futuristic plan is only possible now that the Dallas-based company has deciphered the dodo’s entire genome, according to a press release.

The bird is the latest in a collection of long-extinct animals that scientists want to bring back to life. The startup has previously said it plans to recreate the Tasmanian wolf and the woolly mammal.

A woman looks at a stuffed dodo bird in a case at the Natural History Museum in London, UK.

A stuffed dodo bird at the Natural History Museum on February 5, 2013, in London, England.Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images

There is still a lot to be done before these birds can be brought back. Scientists cannot recreate life from scratch, so they will have to find a way to insert the dodo-specific genes into the embryo of a living animal.

That in itself is no small task. The next step is to compare that genetic information with the genes of closely related birds such as the Nicobar pigeon, and the Rodrigues solitaire, a giant flightless pigeon, to figure out the mutations that “make dodo dodo,” Beth Shapiro, a lead geneticist on the project, told CNN.

Shapiro says the ultimate plan is to reintroduce the birds to Mauritius, where they lived before humans destroyed them.

​​​​​​A bird created using such an approach would be a hybrid that resembles its ancestor.

The plan is “very, very challenging,” Ewan Birney, deputy director of the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology who is not involved in the project, told the Guardian.

Still, the company has raised another $150 million for the project out of a total of $225 million from 2021. According to Bloomberg, the latest investment represents $1.5bn for the startup.

Woolly mammal in the snowy landscape

An artist’s impression of a woolly mummy.iStock/Getty Images Plus

There are obvious ethical questions when you’re thinking about creating a species with the goal of releasing them into the wild, Birney said.

“There are people who think because you can do something you should, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves, and whether this is really the best allocation of resources,” Birney told the Guardian. “We should save the species we have before they become extinct.”

Colossal Biosciences claims that their only goal is not to bring these animals back.

These major schemes also act as beacons for conservation research and it is hoped that useful tools will be found along the way to help animals survive the current biodiversity crisis, he said.

“It’s clear that we’re in the middle of an extinction crisis. And it’s our job to bring stories and excite people in a way that gets them thinking about the extinction crisis that’s going on right now,” Shapiro told CNN.

“I am particularly looking forward to advancing genetic lifesaving tools aimed at birds and bird conservation,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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