Texas Company Obtains $150 Million in Funding to Bring Back Dodo Bird
Fortunately, returning T-Rex is not on the agenda.
Colossal Biosciences, a Texas firm that is the world’s first “de-extinction” company, has announced it has obtained $150 million in funding to bring back the extinct dodo bird. Of course, it helped that the project’s goal was ostensibly tied to “climate change.”
Colossal Biosciences, which previously made headlines for its plans to to bring back the woolly mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger, says it is now turning its attention to the dodo.
The bird, which is closely related to pigeons, went extinct in 1662 after being wiped out from its native ecosystem, Mauritius, because of human settlement and ecosystem competition. The dodo is widely considered one of the best examples of human-induced extinction.
The dodo will mark the third animal the company is working on. Colossal is most famous for its lofty goal of creating a woolly mammoth-elephant hybrid, but the company also announced plans last year to try and back another extinct animal, the Tasmanian tiger.
Colossal Biosciences, which this week announced a new $150 million funding round, is led by Austin-based entrepreneur Ben Lamm and geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School, was formed in 2021 with the goal of advancing the field of de-extinction and combating climate change.
The approach will be based on CRISPR/Cas9 technology, which edits genes by precisely cutting DNA and then letting natural DNA repair processes to take over. The researchers plan to cut and paste the genetic code to align it as closely with the dodo samples as possible.
In mammals, this gene-edited material would then be embedded in the reproductive system of an existing relative of the species.
But because the dodo is a bird, the technique has to be tweaked somewhat because it needs to account for an external egg. This will be tricky, as no one has yet managed to use gene-editing for birds in this way.
In the dodo’s case, scientists will take primordial germ cells – embryonic precursors of sperm and egg that pass on genetic code from one generation to the next – from a Nicobar pigeon.
They will then edit these cells to more closely resemble a dodo, such as its flightlessness, and then insert them back into a host pigeon egg.
When the resulting chick hatches it may have a few differences compared to the original species, just because of how challenging it is to 100 per cent replicate an extinct creature’s genetic code.
So, in this case, the egg will definitely come first.
It turns out the first dodo DNA samples were able to be collected last year. However, there is no need to worry about T-Rex or velociraptor returning.
Forget Jurassic Park, though: dinosaurs, dead for tens of millions of years, remain inaccessible, their genetic material having disintegrated long ago. Extracting their genes from mosquitoes in amber made a good plot for a novel and movie franchise, but can’t and won’t work in practice.
Those qualms aside, some do see problems arising from pursuing this avenue of experimentation.
“Bringing dodos back does not help the species (I’m not sure that idea makes any sense). Nor does it help the actual dodos who were victims of human activities,” Josh Milburn, a moral and political philosophy lecturer at Loughborough University, told Newsweek. “It just creates new dodos. Does it help us? Creating animals just for our own curiosity does not sound respectful; it sounds like we’re instrumentalising these animals.
. . . . Milburn argues that the newly de-extinct dodos would not have a good life, and neither would any of the other animals impacted by the project.
“If de-extinction efforts are successful, what will happen to the dodos created? Will they be kept in zoos for our amusement? That sounds wrong. We should not create animals just so we can exploit them,” Milburn said.
Others note an entirely different problem.
I think we have enough DODOs already — amirite, gang? #highfive don't leave me hanging, bros https://t.co/N9MT6PVqND
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) January 31, 2023
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Why? Enough are in Congress. But… finding and older extinct version of a Repub with a spine would be a good step. At least, a dodo is better than gain of function on the Spanish Flu.
No dinosaur DNA around, but plenty of Mammoth remains to work from
Odd silence on where exactly they obtained this funding.
We are in need of a new national bird—that matches our new national psyche. In any case, all the eagles are being killed by wind farms and green energy is apparently more important than eagles.
We need the meat. The Fuhrer of the Fourth Reich and his expert for everything Bill Gates is planning to make us eat insects. We’ll call the Dodo meat “Beyond Insects”.
So this is what they do with the money that isn’t being funneled to Ukraine. Amazing.
This is actually pretty important because of the advance in biotech it could bring. However, let’s see them meet one of these goals before funding more projects…but that would make too much sense, right?
I have trouble seeing a net positive outcome from this research. Can you please tell me what I am overlooking with this that couldn’t be exploited by bad actors?
Well, cloning new human organs for one.
Also, we could potentially repopulate bleached coral reefs.
Cloning doesn’t seem to fit the stipulation of it not being exploited by bad actors. Too large a temptation IMO for people to resist bad actions. Especially to provide organs to rich buyers.
This particular work isn’t that important, but fleshing out the DNA tech is.
It has the potential to be exploited by bad actors in catastrophic ways.
Yes. Much like that. A true understanding of genetics and molecular biology is far more dangerous than the knowledge of the atom.
Most convenient eating since the Shmoo.
“When the resulting chick hatches it may have a few differences compared to the original species”
If it’s lucky, one of those will be “tastes awful.”
150 million dollars? Instead of bringing back an extinct bird, wouldn’t this money be better spent bringing back our president’s mind which has been extinct for a number of years?
That can’t be done. Like the dinosaur DNA, it’s long ago disintegerated
Okay then, connect Hunter Biden’s laptop to an AI, plug-in to white house decision making and let her rip.
Gene splicing. Perhaps make a Turducken version … When will they try to bring back the Nephilim?
I’m quite certain they would sooner disavow the Nephilim, as well as anything else unique to Judeo-Christian lore.
China and Ukraine have both given Joe and Hunter more than enough money, but that’s not what they chose to spend it on. Given what a great father they all consider him, hooker and blow probably would have been my choice, too.
I think more than DNA is going to be needed. Other things than DNA determine the phenotype of a species.
Dodo meat. Me likee Slow smke the dodo bit longer than chicken on mesquite, with a mustard based sauce
Yes, that’s the point. Animals are instruments. They’re objects. They exist for our benefit, just like the rest of creation.
Why the hell not? And no, they won’t be kept in zoos, at least not all of them. They went extinct because they were such good eating. So if we can revive them they will probably become a major tasty meat animal. They won’t replace chicken, but they’ll probably find their place alongside it.
How do you like that, Mr “moral and political philosophy lecturer” Milburn?
If they know enough to make the meat taste different enough from chicken to matter, they ought to be able to use the same technology on chickens, which are plentiful. Then we could just go to the store and buy chickens in our choice of flavors.
Mmmmm, chocolate chicken!
Really? I always thought they went extinct the same way the passenger pigeon did, because they were excellent eating, and they had no fear of man, so you could just walk up to them and club them over the head, and harvest as many as you liked. So every ship passing through the Indian Ocean would stop at Mauritius to load up on them, and there was nobody farming them, so eventually they were all eaten and there weren’t any more. If anyone had realized what was happening they could have farmed them.
Ships brought rats to the island and the rats would raid the nests and eat the eggs.
Dutch sailors reported that they were tasty.
Dutch Masters made cigars out of them.
They brought back Rona Romney McDaniels, so why not the other dodos.
Why do I read things like this when drinking coffee? ☕️ Why? It burns my nose and ruins another key board.
Bring back the giant Moa birds of New Zealand! That would be a spectacle to see.
Oh, but they’re different because dodos were extincted by white people, and moas were extincted by the “indigenous people” who arrived in NZ just a few hundred years before the pakeha. So they can’t be remembered because “indigenous people” are all in synch with Mother Gaea and incapable of blasphemy against her.
This company sounds like it exists purely to take government money.
I don’t see anything in the article about government money. Maybe some of it is government-sourced.
While ideally governments shouldn’t be funding science, it’s about the most worthwhile thing governments do outside their actual job. Therefore when cutting government programs that shouldn’t exist, science should be the last item on the list; only cut it when everything else is gone, and the government is down to its core mission plus being a patron of science. Then spin off the “patron of science” function as a public charity and let people donate to it for brownie points.
The CIA is funding this. Seriously
I agree. I don’t think governments should be in the business of, well, most of what they are doing. Funding research is a good thing, at least.
I assumed government money because it is unfathomable to me that a private institution is willing to commit $150 million on a worthless boondoggle.
Governments have a rather vague grasp of the term “science”.
On another subject, I’ve been skeptical of your distaste for TGP until I happened on an article about the ice-storm caused power outages in the Austin area and scanned through the comments section to see if I could find anything informative. I’ve never seen so much stupidity crammed into so little space (well, maybe outside of Breitbart).
On a TMI tangent: I can see why young ppl can get mad about income/wealth inequality. My own savings are not insubstantial, yet the government can toss around many multiples off my many years of savings—all at a whim.
Brandon spent $800k to shoot down a balloon— $400k for the missile, $400k to replace it. What s dodo.
I wonder if a few machine gun bullets could have brought it down carefully over land and recovered most of it, versus a missile over the ocean and likely recovering little (the apparent goal). It looks like China finally got its money’s worth out of all the millions paid to Hunter and The Big Guy.
There were tests with a Vulcan cannon being fitted to the F-22. That would have worked but only a test. Just like the F-4 Phantom, cannons were an after thought.
More than likely the instrument package will have been hardened and equipped with some sort of homing signal to facilitate recovery.
One word: “DoTurDuckEn”!
Comments like this fill my heart with joy and mirth.
No T Rex? Then how am I supposed to work in the Goldblum line from Lost World?
Can we have Terror Birds, at least?
“Oooh, ahhh! That’s how it always starts. But then later there’s running and screaming.”
They’ve yet to successfully create any of the previous animals they tried but let’s throw more tax dollars at them for another one. What a scam.
I would absolutely love this unfortunately there is a major impediment.
Where is the intact DNA coming from? It degrades rapidly in the conditions of Mauritius.
But while cloning a Dodo is likely just a dream the money is likely to be used on genetic research that could help in future cloning of endangered animals so it won’t go to waste.
A nation that is building an imperial military capable of being at war with the rest of planet Earth could easily afford 150 million dollars of genetic research that will likely help ecosystems round the world.
More dodos? I thought we had enough politicians already.
Colossal Biosciences is very innovative. They are most famous for their lofty goal of creating a woolly mammoth-elephant hybrid.
One project that didn’t turn out so well was their attempt to cross a potato with a sponge. Their spokesperson said, “Although it didn’t taste very good, it sure held a lot of gravy.”
Dibs on the drumstick.
The Screaming D’s seem to be doing a fine job of reproducing themselves without in-vitro help.
Oh, a different kind of “dodos.” Sorry.
Why would someone give them more $$ when they haven’t been successful with existing projects.