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The Dodo Could Be Brought Back To Life After Major DNA Breakthrough

The Dodo Could Be Brought Back To Life After Major DNA Breakthrough

The famously extinct bird, which was completely wiped out in the 17th century, could be cloned in the near future

The phrase 'as dead as a dodo' has been in the English vernacular for hundreds of years, but it may be time for linguists to spare the famously extinct bird thanks to an incredible DNA breakthrough.

Scientists have successfully sequenced the entire genome of the dodo bird, which was officially rendered as extinct in the 17th century, meaning that it could successfully be cloned in the future.

As The Telegraph has reported, experts could theoretically be able to edit the DNA from a pigeon to include dodo, with the two species having fairly similar genetic makeups.

Previously inhabiting the island or Mauritius, the 3ft tall bird was completely wiped out over 500 years ago.

Nevertheless, Royal Society of Medicine Professor Beth Shapiro recently revealed that the dodo's return was a distinct possibility - chiefly thanks to modern science.

This is what the dodo is believed to have looked like. (Alamy)
This is what the dodo is believed to have looked like. (Alamy)

'Mammals are simpler [to clone]', she explained in a virtual call with some of her colleagues. 'If I have a cell and it’s living in a dish in the lab and I edit it so that it has a bit of Dodo DNA, how do I then transform that cell into a whole living, breathing, actual animal?'

She then added that there is an extra level of complexity when it comes to possibly cloning birds.

'The way we can do this is to clone it, the same approach that was used to create Dolly the Sheep, but we don't know how to do that with birds because of the intricacies of their reproductive pathways.

'So there needs to be another approach for birds and this is one really fundamental technological hurdle in de-extinction. There are groups working on different approaches for doing that and I have little doubt that we are going to get there but it is an additional hurdle for birds that we don’t have for mammals.'

The sci-fi-esque cloning experiments may not end there either, as hope remains that a similar process could be applied to bring back the fabled woolly mammoth.

Could the extinct wooly mammoth ever be cloned? (Alamy)
Could the extinct wooly mammoth ever be cloned? (Alamy)

As per The Sun, well preserved specimens of the animal, found in permafrost in Siberia, could be the key to cloning it.

Entrepreneur Ben Lamm and Harvard geneticist George Church claim to have created technology with the ability to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.

Through the act of combining its DNA with that of a modern Asian elephant, it is believed that an embryo could be created - possibly from a surrogate elephant.

The woolly mammoth population is believed to have been completely wiped out over 4,000 years ago, but if Lamm and Church's 'Colossal' company is successful, the species could yet live on for decades - and possibly even centuries to come.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Science, Animals