"This Texas Company Wants to Bring Species Back From the Dead"

"Proponents of the de-extinction movement press on with little research and lots of fanfare"

"Vikash Tatayah, the conservation director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, was stunned when he learned that scientists at a Texas-based biotech company were hoping to reintroduce a now-extinct species of bird that once roamed the island of Mauritius. “I didn’t even know that the company existed,” Tatayah said. Leaders at Colossal Biosciences hope to bring the dodo back from the dead by genetically engineering animals into existence after centuries of extinction.

To do this, researchers would have to identify the genes that made the dodo unique and insert them into a close relative, the Nicobar pigeon, so that the resulting offspring resembles its extinct cousin. The result wouldn’t quite be the extinct animal, but it wouldn’t be the still-living species either; it’d be something entirely new. That makes this process, called de-extinction, distinct from cloning.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has since partnered with Colossal for one primary reason: money. The company, founded in 2021, is estimated to be worth around $1.5 billion and has attracted high-profile investors like Peter Thiel, Paris Hilton, and Chris Hemsworth, as well as the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. The dodo project was announced in January 2023, joining the thylacine (a.k.a. the Tasmanian tiger) and the woolly mammoth in Colossal’s de-extinction portfolio."

Darren Incorvaia reports for Sierra magazine February 22, 2024.

Source: Sierra, 02/26/2024