Science & Tech

Gene editing company plans to use science to bring back extinct animals

Gene editing company plans to use science to bring back extinct animals
Scientists look to bring back dodo bird after hundreds of years

The dodo and woolly mammoth are both animals that have gone extinct - but this could soon change as a company plans to use science to bring back the two species.

Colossal Biosciences, the company behind the planned revival founded in 2021 by Harvard geneticist George Church and entrepreneur Ben Lamm, has secured over $150m in the latest funding rounding, taking the total of funds raised to $225m since 2021.

The dodo bird resided on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and became extinct sometime between 1662 and 1690 for a number of reasons such as humans hunting the bird, new animals (and predators) being introduced onto the island and losing their habitat.

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It was in the 1500s that humans first encountered the flightless, three feet tall bird that was fearless of humans and other animals having previously had few to no predators on the island. Within less than 200 years the species was wiped out.

Beth Shapiro Ph.D., Colossal Scientific Advisory Board member and lead paleogeneticist said: “The Dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we – people – made it impossible for them to survive in their native habitat.

"Having focused on genetic advancements in ancient DNA for my entire career and as the first to fully sequence the Dodo’s genome, I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the Dodo. I particularly look forward to furthering genetic rescue tools focused on birds and avian conservation.”

Meanwhile, the woolly mammoth became extinct about 10,000 years ago but isolated island populations survived up until 4,000 years ago.

Scientists don't have the exact answer as to why the woolly mammoth was wiped out, but believe it was down to different factors such as humans hunting them, as well as climate change affecting their vegetation.

In an attempt to bring back the species, research has begun into how to alter the DNA of existing animals so that they can birth the extinct animals.

For example, the DNA of mammoths that were frozen in ice for thousands of years being fused with modern Asian elephants.

Though we won't seeing a dodo or woolly mammoth appearing anytime soon, as the project is still in its early days - but perhaps a time in the future will come when they're roaming the Earth again.

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