Reconstructing genome of ancient bird opens door to reviving lost species

| | March 2, 2018

Scientists at Harvard University have assembled the first nearly complete genome of the little bush moa, a flightless bird that went extinct soon after Polynesians settled New Zealand in the late 13th century. The achievement moves the field of extinct genomes closer to the goal of “de-extinction” — bringing vanished species back to life by slipping the genome into the egg of a living species, “Jurassic Park”-like.

“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 aims to resurrect vanished species including the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth, whose genomes have already been mostly pieced together.

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For the moa, whose DNA was reconstructed from the toe bone of a museum specimen, that might require a little more genetic tinkering and a lot of egg: The 6-inch long, 1-pounder that emus lay might be just the ticket.

[I]f scientists resurrected an extinct species by putting its reassembled genome into the egg of a living species, it would likely not be a perfect replica of the original. A “de-extinct” passenger pigeon might eat what the original did but have different reproductive and social behaviors, for instance.

Read full, original post: With DNA from a museum specimen, scientists reconstruct the genome of a bird extinct for 700 years

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