What Happened to Dodos, the Extinct Birds that Could Be Brought Back to Life

The last dodo was seen in 1662, but a project aims to bring it back along with woolly mammoths and Tasmanian tigers.

Gabriela Castillo

350 years ago, the last dodo passed, and since then, the mythical bird has remained extinct. The Raphus cucullatus lived on the island of Mauritius, west of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean. And although at some point it was believed that dodos were mythical creatures that had only existed in legends, it is now well known that these birds were real… and that humans were responsible for their extinction. Now, it is this same species that seeks to bring them back.

What Happened to Dodos?

These birds lived in harmony on the island of Mauritius, where they had a diverse ecosystem that provided them with food. It is believed that they stopped flying because they didn’t need to: there were very few predators, so dodos were not in danger.

So why did they become extinct? As has happened with many extinct species throughout history, humans and the destruction of their natural habitat played a significant role. In the 1600s, sailors who approached the island began hunting them and introducing other invasive species, which gradually ended them.

The character of the dodos was very friendly and docile, as they had never had to face any predators. That is why they quickly approached the humans who arrived on their island, and sadly, these humans ended up destroying their habitat. The last dodo was seen in 1662 and became a clear example of what happens when humans become involved in the existence of a protected species.

Dodos - what happened to dodos, the extinct birds that could be brought back to life

The Company That Seeks to Revive the Dodos

Colossal, a biotechnology and genetic engineering company founded in 2021, has the plan to revive these mythical birds. In addition to the Tasmanian tigers and woolly mammoths, which they plan to reintroduce to the world in 2027, the company plans to “revive” the dodos with the DNA from a preserved skull.

According to Colossal’s official website, in conjunction with the University of Copenhagen, the team of scientists is going to “sequence and assemble the dodo’s genome using DNA extracted from a skull in the collection of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.”

Colossal’s project to bring back dodos and other extinct species to life has not been without criticism. Some experts believe that instead of reviving extinct species, technology should be used to help currently endangered species. However, the project has raised a total of 225 million dollars.

“The dodo bird is a symbol of man-made extinction,” Colossal explains on its website. “A glaring example of the price of carelessness. Colossal is committed to reviving species lost to extinction to build a better world. Therefore, we intend to partner with the government of Mauritius to establish a foundation for the de-extinction and rewilding of the beloved bird we all dearly miss.”