The Royal Ontario Museum is taking part in a Jurassic Park-esque scheme to resurrect an extinct species of bird.
The passenger pigeon, once the most the numerous bird in the world, became extinct more than a 100 years ago. However, with the help of a dead specimen from the ROM and a bit of scientific wizardry, a U.S. non-profit called Revive and Restore hopes to bring it back to life.
Part of the the dead bird’s genetic material will be spliced into the genome of the band-tailed pigeon, a wild pigeon native to the southwestern United States that is closely related to the passenger pigeon. While the process is expected to take the better part of a decade, if successful it would mark the first time an extinct species has been brought back to life. Although resurrecting dinosaurs is probably not in the cards, it’s conceivable that the procedure could help bring back more recently wiped out species.
The pigeons used to be an important source of food for North Americans in the mid 19th century, though they were also considered an agricultural pest because of their ability to devastate entire crop yields. The latter fact made the species a victim of excessive hunting, and a population that had numbered 6-billion in the 1830s and 1840s became extinct in less than 50 years. [Via Toronto Star]