By: April Carson
The idea of resurrecting the vanished dodo is no longer a fantasy.
The last piece needed to finish the dodo's genome was a "remarkable specimen" of dodo DNA that was recently found, according to a team of biological researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The research team was able to sequence the genome of the extinct bird using DNA from a preserved toe bone that dates back to the 17th century.
Researchers have discovered that the island is home to a number of previously unknown species, which means they are one step closer to bringing back the dodo, whose extinction occurred more than three centuries ago.
A Royal Society webinar participant asked Beth Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, what would happen to the genetics of the species once it was gone.
According to The Telegraph, when pressed by her audience, Shapiro confirmed the breakthrough. “Yes, the dodo genome is completely sequenced since we completed it. It hasn't been published yet, but it does exist, and we're currently working on it,'” she said.
The dodo, a 3-foot-tall flightless bird that was first recorded in modern history by Dutch sailors on the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, in 1598, vanished from the island sometime between 1662 and 1680. By the late 17th century, not a trace of it could be found there — and it was thought to have been killed off by invasive species including dogs, cats, and people.
There's been a lot of talk in the evolutionary research community about being able to re-create extinct ancient creatures like the wooly mammoth, which died out around 4,000 years ago. Since its entire genome was decoded in 2015, scientists have teased the concept.
Harvard University geneticist George Church even went as far as to say that we could have a passenger pigeon — wiped out by humans in the early 20th century — back in our skies within two years.
In 2017, Shapiro's book "How to Clone a Mammoth" (Princeton University Press) unveiled her de-extinction ambitions: “The dodo is more than any other species the international symbol of human-caused extinction,” she wrote.
Bringing back the dodo, on the other hand, presents a number of difficulties.
But even with the new discovery, cloning a dodo is still probably not going to happen anytime soon. And it's not just because of the technical difficulties — it's also because we just don't know enough about the bird to make sure that we could bring it back without harming its population.
There are several ethical concerns to consider before we could even consider reintroducing anything like this.
“Mammals are less complicated,” she added, noting that they are made possible by cloning — “the same technique used to create Dolly the Sheep.”
“However, because of the complexities of avian reproductive pathways, we don't know how to do that with birds. So there must be another approach for birds,” she added. “There is little question in my mind that we will be able to replicate humans and domesticate them through selective breeding techniques by 2050.”
The Nicobar pigeon's close relative, the dodo, might be modified to include its DNA, according to the Telegraph. In that situation, it wouldn't be a fully formed dodo.
Of all the creatures to bring back into existence, there's a compelling case for the dodo as a suitable tropical habitat could be found for it right now. It's also benign.
“The dodo is a well-known bird that may be resurrected,” says Harvard University geneticist George Church. “If you bring back T-Rex, it wouldn't be the most popular thing since he'd go crazy and cause mayhem.”
The idea of bringing back the dead isn't as outlandish as it may sound. In 2003, scientists at Harvard University announced they had assembled the genome of the woolly mammoth.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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