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The dodo bird isn’t coming back anytime soon. Nor is the woolly mammoth. But a company working on technologies to bring back extinct species has attracted more investors, while other scientists are skeptical such feats are possible or a good idea.
Colossal Biosciences first announced its ambitious plan to revive the woolly mammoth two years ago, and said it wanted to bring back the dodo bird, too.
“The dodo is a symbol of man-made extinction,” said Ben Lamm, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Colossal. The company has formed a division to focus on bird-related genetic technologies.
The last dodo, a flightless bird about the size of a turkey, was killed in 1681 on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
The Dallas company, which launched in 2021, also announced it had raised an additional $150 million in funding. To date, it has raised $225 million from wide-ranging investors that include United States Innovative Technology Fund, Breyer Capital and In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm which invests in technology.
The prospect of bringing the dodo back isn’t expected to directly make money, said Lamm. But the genetic tools and equipment that the company develops to try to do it may have other uses, including for human health care, he said.
Other scientists wonder if it’s even advisable to try, and question whether “de-extinction” diverts attention and money away from efforts to save species still on Earth.
It helps if they can learn from other wild animals of their kind — an advantage that potential dodos and mammoths won’t have, said Boris Worm, a biologist at the University of Dalhousie in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has no connection to Colossal.
“Preventing species from going extinct in the first place should be our priority, and in most cases, it’s a lot cheaper,” said Worm.
This article was provided by The Associated Press.