Paris Hilton and crypto personality Charles Hoskinson want to bring the dodo back to life in the latest episode of Jurassic Park gone right (along with some boffins from Colossal Biosciences). This time, hopefully no one will get eaten, including the dumb-as-rocks dodo.
Paleogenetics company Colossal Biosciences is the outfit that has secured US$150m to de-extinct the iconic dodo. This round of funding comes from a mixture of celeb personalities such as Charles Hoskinson, the founder of cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA).
Metaverse enthusiast and NFT lover Paris Hilton has also made herself known as an investor.
Another interesting investor is Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based digital entertainment company that makes blockchain-based games, and has gamified artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. This means that the efforts to revive the dodo are marinating amongst the most innovative minds in technology.
What caused the dodo to go extinct?
The dodo bird lived a lazy life as a flightless bird on the island of Mauritius, which is a paradise-like haven in the Indian Ocean.
Dutch sailors stumbled upon the location and subsequently, the bird, in the late 16th century. The dodo stood at one metre tall, and had no absolutely no fear of their new invaders.
The bird lacked natural predators on its island paradise, so it had never had the experience of being scared. It also found survival so easy that it only laid one egg per year, which kept the species going without much effort towards reproduction.
Humans who stumbled upon the dodo were amazed that it didn’t run away, which of course, became its undoing. Within one lifetime it was wiped out as imported domesticated animals ate its eggs and humans used it for food.
The origin and meaning of the word ‘dodo’ is debated among historians but it could come from the Portuguese word doudo which means ‘stupid’ or ‘simpleton’. It could also come from the Dutch word dodoor, which means ‘sluggard’. Either way, its relaxed nature got it wiped out completely, lacking both the instinct for flight or fight.
Colossal Biosciences and the future zoo
Will we see woolly mammoths in our zoos of the future? Some of the reasons for bringing back these ancient beasts seem a little wild. But the huge funding keeps coming, which makes people ask questions like, ‘What is Charles Hoskinson worth?’ The answer is US$600m, so this is a dream that has plenty of money behind it.
Beth Shapiro Ph.D., is the lead paleogeneticist on the Colossal Scientific Advisory Board. She said:
“The Dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we – people – made it impossible for them to survive in their native habitat. Having focused on genetic advancements in ancient DNA for my entire career and as the first to fully sequence the Dodo’s genome, I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the Dodo.”
We humans are going to create quite the zoo of extinct animals once this gets up and running. Hopefully Paris Hilton and Charles Hoskinson will help us keep them contained. While the dodo seems as dumb as a box of hair, and will pose no harm, we still must keep in mind that Jurassic Park is only a few genomes to the right. Let’s hope we have got this.