It's About Time!

If you read the history of Dodoland in Cyberspace you will find that it was created around one of Della Burfords books, "Journey to Dodoland". In this story the Dodo bird leaves earth because people laughed at it so it decided to go to a place where it could be whatever it wanted to be.

Now it appears that it wants to return to earth. Nearly two years ago one of our friends suggested we get in contact with some scientists about recreating the dodo bird from DNA strands that a number of museums around the world had in their possession. Then last year a young person emailed us here and suggested that the time was right to bring back the dodo through scientific means. I am real glad to report the following edited news article from the London Sunday Times, 21 March 1999 edition.

DNA science could rebuild dead Dodo.
by Steve Farrar

Scientists are to extract DNA from a dodo for the first time, raising the prospect that the animal whose name is synonymous with extinction could be resurrected.

British experts will recover fragments of genetic material from a preserved head and foot kept in Oxford University's Museum of Natural History.

A team of Oxford University experts, led by Dr,. Alan Cooper, has already started to build the dodo's family tree by testing the DNA of African Indian Ocean pigeons, to which it is thought to be related.

It could then be possible to work out the dodo's unique genes, said Dr. Charlie Shaw, an expert in ancient DNA at Durham University.

Once scientists have worked out the key genes that made the dodo unique, they could then create genetically engineered DNA to put into the nucleus of an egg and hatch a dodo-like bird using one of the pigeons identified by Cooper's survey.

Experts believe the dodo's ancestors flew to Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island the size of Sussex, within the last million years, and in the absence of predators evolved into large, flightless animals that foraged for food on the forest floor.

It is believed that dogs, pigs, rats and monkeys brought in by Europeans sailors after 1598, hunted adult birds down, raided their nests for eggs and out-competed them for food.

Within 70 years, the last dodo was dead, the first species of animal in recorded history to be effectively wiped out by man.

In Mauritius a recreated dodo would be welcomed like a returning hero, according to Seeneevasen Ponnusamy, the Mauritian deputy high commissioner. "The Dodo is highly regarded in Mauritius and stands on one side of our national emblem," he said. "It would be marvellous if you could recreate something that looked like it."

For a full version of the article please see the Sunday Times 21 March 1999.

We at Dodoland in Cyberspace would also love to see the Dodo come back to life and will be following these events and reporting on them.

Dale Bertrand

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