Sunday, February 04, 2007

Genetic Experiment Yields Previously Extinct Dodo

Genetic scientists in the quiet village of Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, revealed, today, the first fruits of a secret, ten-year project to reconstruct the DNA of Raphus cucullatus, a bird more commonly known as the 'dodo', that became extinct in the latter half of the seventeenth century.

Splicing DNA fragments garnered from the skin of the last known stuffed dodo - currently housed in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford - with those of a swan, the team led by one Dr Donald Canard, successfully engineered a swan-dodo cross-breed, called a 'swodo'.

Like the extinct dodo, the swodo is a flightless bird that weighs approximately 25kg. And, like the dodo, the swodo has a small but plump body, a short neck, and a relatively large head. While its feathers and beak continue to resemble those of a swan, the team are certain that all of the swodo's internal organs are identical to those of the dodo. The team now plan to selectively breed external traits such as the dodo's distinctive grey plumage back into the 'swodo', and are confident that, by 2010, they will be releasing significant numbers of dodo back into the wild.


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