Chances are you have never heard of the bush moa bird. That is primarily because this flightless bird disappeared from the planet in the 13th Century. You have probably heard of the Wooly Mammoth and the dodo bird, who went extinct in the Stone Age and the 17th Century respectively.
Scientific American reports that scientists at Harvard University are very close to completing the genome sequence of the bush moa, a flightless bird that went extinct 800 years ago, opening the door to bringing the species (which existed in Polynesia) back to life, an ability dubbed “de-extinction”.
The genome of a #moa species that has been #extinct for 700 years has been pieced together. Adds to the role call of extinct species sequenced (incl 2 humanoid). #DeExtinction closer https://t.co/NGkp91FWEr
— Michael J Wise (@some_wise) February 27, 2018
“De-extinction probability increases with every improvement in ancient DNA analysis,” said Stewart Brand, co-founder of the nonprofit conservation group Revive and Restore, which is working to bring back extinct species like the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth.
All it took to get the moa on the de-extinction path was a small toe bone specimen scrapped for DNA. The genetic data was then scanned to decode its genome structure. Once that is complete (and it is 85 percent done), the completed material will be inserted into, most likely, an ostrich egg.
If images from Jurassic Park pop in your head, you may be forgiven.
Some scientists are also close to decoding the genome of the dodo, the great auk (a large penguin-like bird) and the Tasmanian tiger, which went extinct in 1936.
Completing these de-extinctions would mean that two of humanity’s relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans, could be brought back to life.
“De-extinction is coming, gradually and certainly. It will eventually be seen as just another form of reintroduction,” says Brand.
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