Category

De-Extinction

Dodo Bird De-extinction? The Dialogue Has Begun in the Island Nation of Mauritius

By | De-Extinction

By Ben J. Novak “Gone the way of the Dodo” is the all-too-common sigh of remorse uttered when another species joins the growing list of recent extinctions. The last Dodo bird died on the island of Mauritius (located about 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean) over 300 years ago. It was driven to extinction in the late 1600’s after invasive species out-competed the bird for food and ate its young. The speed at which this pigeon was extirpated made the Dodo the modern icon of human-caused extinction. Less than 75 years after Dutch sailors…

Read More

2015 Year End Report by Stewart Brand

By | Black-Footed Ferret, De-Extinction, Heath Hen, Passenger Pigeon

Revive & Restore has set out to expand conservation practice by demonstrating how new genomic tools can be applied to a variety of serious wildlife problems that have proved unsolvable by traditional means. Working with dozens of scientists, we are participating in 12 such projects—7 initiated by us. Of the 12 projects, 6 aim to prevent extinction of endangered species (genetic rescue), 5 attempt to reverse extinction in ecologically important species (de-extinction), and 1 hopes to cure a devastating human ailment (Lyme disease) by tweaking its wildlife reservoir. That may seem like too much for a tiny nonprofit to take…

Read More

Breeding Band-tailed Pigeons: a glimpse into the future of passenger pigeon de-extinction

By | De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon

Ben Novak and Paul Marini The biggest challenges facing The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback will be obtaining germ cell cultures, engineering cells and birds), and then breeding and raising passenger pigeons that will survive and flourish in the wild. The underlying element to these challenges is handling live birds. As our project now is completing genome sequences and beginning to assess the mutations we will engineer into living band-tailed pigeons we face our biggest obstacle – establishing a research flock of pigeons for the purpose of recreating the passenger pigeons. Mid- 2014 our project gained a new advisor and project…

Read More

Advice for Students with Interest in Genetic Rescue and De-extinction

By | De-Extinction

By Ben J. Novak We are frequently asked by students what education pathway should they pursue to develop a career in next generation conservation – such as biotech-based genetic rescue and de-extinction projects. Currently there are no education programs in the world that are designed for this kind of specialty, but any university with relatively customizable biology, genetics, and conservation science major programs can be tailored for a future in this line of work. Next generation conservation projects using biotech and genomics will be a highly interdisciplinary field, offering work for people with many specialties. It helps to decide early…

Read More

De-extinction science – a summary by Stewart Brand

By | De-Extinction

Revive & Restore was pleased to host Beth Shapiro for a presentation on her book How to Clone a Mammoth on Monday May 11, 2015 at the Marines’ Memorial Theater at Union Square, San Francisco, CA. This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking. How to Clone a Mammoth Monday May 11, 02015 – San Francisco Audio is available on the How to Clone a Mammoth page, or you can subscribe to The Long Now Foundation’s podcast. De-extinction science   A summary by Stewart Brand When people hear about “ancient DNA” in fossils, Shapiro began, the first question always is “Can…

Read More

Rethinking Extinction

By | De-Extinction

-By Stewart Brand This article was published on April 21, 2015 in Aeon. The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis Stewart Brand is president of the Long Now Foundation and co-founder of Revive and Restore. He edited the Whole Earth Catalog (1968-74) and his latest book is Whole Earth Discipline (2010). The way the public hears about conservation issues is nearly always in the mode of ‘[Beloved Animal] Threatened With Extinction’. That makes for electrifying headlines, but it misdirects concern. The loss of whole…

Read More

Advances in Avian Transgenics

By | De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon

A follow up to “Why birds are a challenge” by Ben J. Novak The next phase of The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback is approaching: the engineering of passenger pigeon mutations into living pigeons. The first requirement to do this is a flock of pigeons; the second is a viable method to creating engineered birds. Engineering birds is not difficult, but making engineered birds that are capable of passing on their engineered traits is a formidable challenge in the world of avian research. The key element in viability is that the passenger pigeon mutations we edit are incorporated into the germ…

Read More

Reflections on Martha’s Centennial

By | De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon | One Comment

– by Ben Novak The passenger pigeon was once the world’s most plentiful bird. September 1 is the centenary of the bird’s extinction. Martha, the last pigeon of the species, died at the Cincinnati Zoo and now can be viewed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.  There is no limit to the alluring curiosities of living things, and no end to the mysteries of those gone. Contrary to the poetic nature of “righting past wrongs” that some attribute to the de-extinction of passenger pigeons, I view the de-extinction of the passenger pigeon as a project seeded in our present and…

Read More

New Passenger Pigeon Genomes

By | De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon | No Comments

By Beth Shapiro, PhD Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Co-Principal Investigator of the Paleogenomics Lab, University of California Santa Cruz As you may know, a different group (not us — Ouch!) has published a paper in PNAS on June 16 (see abstract and link below) in which they use genome sequence data from several preserved passenger pigeons to infer long-term demographic trends in the bird. It is important to the de-extinction effort because it shows (as our data do) that passenger pigeon populations fluctuated in size through time, as resource availability changed. This means that we probably won’t need to bring back billions…

Read More