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Texas Genetics Company Wants to Revive the Dodo Bird

Colossal says it has secured $150 million in funding from several venture capital firms, including the United States Innovative Technology Fund and In-Q-Tel — a VC firm funded in part by the CIA — for the dodo comeback.

(TNS) — First, Texas-based de-extinction company Colossal Biosciences eyed the revival of the wooly mammoth. Then, late last year, it announced plans to bring the Thylacine (a.k.a the Tasmanian tiger) back to life. Now, the Dallas genetic engineering startup has set its sights on resurrecting the extinct dodo bird more than 350 years after the flightless species was wiped out from its native island of Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar.

On Tuesday, Colossal announced it has secured $150 million in funding from several venture capital firms, including the United States Innovative Technology Fund and In-Q-Tel—a VC firm funded by the CIA, among others—for the dodo comeback. The funding will also support its de-extinction activities for the woolly mammoth and Tasmanian tiger. Since first launching in September 2021, the company has raised over $225 million, according to its announcement.

Characterized by its blue-gray plumage, large head, and distinctive curved beak, the dodo was bigger than a turkey, weighing about 50 pounds. The stocky bird met its demise as a direct result of human settlement and ecosystem competition. Dodos were first spotted by Portuguese sailors around 1507, per Britannica, but were extinct by 1681.

"The dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we—people—made it impossible for them to survive their native habitat," said Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Santa Cruz who led the team that fully sequenced the dodo's genome for the first time in March 2022, in the announcement. "I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the dodo. I particularly look forward to further genetic rescue tools focused on birds and avian conservation."

In addition, Colossal has launched the Avian Genomics Group, which will oversee the efforts to bring back the iconic dodo, and eventually other extinct bird species "through genetic rescue techniques and its de-extinction toolkit," the company said in its announcement.

Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal, said the company's advances could also support the future of human healthcare, saying in the release, "By gathering the smartest minds across investing, genomics, conservation and synthetic biology, we have the opportunity to reverse human-inflicted biodiversity loss while developing technologies for both conservation and human healthcare."

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