In a press release, the futuristic concept is only feasible now that the Dallas-based corporation has completely encrypted the dodo's genome.
The dodo, a flightless bird that has been extinct since the 17th century, is said to be one step closer to being revived, according to billion-dollar firm Colossal Biosciences.
The bird is the most recent extinct animal that scientists are attempting to resurrect. The firm has previously stated that it intends to recreate the woolly mammoth and the Tasmanian wolf.
Before these birds can be brought back, there is still more work to be done. Since scientists are unable to produce life from scratch, they must find a technique to introduce dodo-specific genes into a living animal's embryo. Such a method would produce a hybrid bird that resembles its ancestor.
The ultimate goal, according to Shapiro, is to restore the birds to Mauritius, where they once lived before being exterminated by humans. That is no easy task by itself. The next stage is to compare this genetic data to the DNA of comparable birds, such as the Nicobar pigeon and the extinct Rodrigues solitaire, a huge flightless pigeon, in order to identify the changes that "make a dodo a dodo," according to Beth Shapiro, the project's senior geneticist.
Ewan Birney, deputy director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and a non-participant in the study, described the strategy as "very, very challenging." However, the corporation has funded an additional US$150 million for the project, bringing the total raised since 2021 to $225 million. The startup is worth $1.5 billion as of the most recent financing.
Thinking about developing a species with the intention of releasing it into the wild raises some obvious ethical issues, according to Birney.
"There are people who think that 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 added.
These ambitious plans also serve as a moonshot for conservation research, and it is hoped that along the road, practical solutions can be found to assist animals in surviving the current biodiversity crisis. As per Colossal Biosciences, bringing these animals back is not its only objective.
"We're clearly in the middle of an extinction crisis. And it's our responsibility to bring stories and to bring excitement to people in a way that motivates them to think about the extinction crisis that's going on right now," Shapiro said. "I particularly look forward to furthering genetic rescue tools focused on birds and avian conservation," she added.