Monday, September 01, 2014

Goodbye Martha, Until We Meet Again

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died 100 years ago today. Though the bird was pushed to the edge by a combination of market hunting and forest loss, both abetted by the railroads, the last push was biological.  

Passenger pigeons required large numbers of the birds to gather in order to trigger mating -- a trait common enough with domestic pigeons that breeders have learned to put up mirrors inside pigeon houses in order to stimulate sex.

Might it be possible, one day, to scrape together DNA from taxidermy skins and clone a new colony of Passenger Pigeons?


The idea here is to take eggs of band tailed pigeons and somehow introduce Passenger Pigeon DNA.  The cross would then be repeated until, at last, a more-or-less pure Passenger Pigeon was  created.

Of course, it's never been done and yes, attempts to clone extinct species has been tried for more than 30 years.

But might it be done someday?


The world is running fast and cellular biological knowledge, in particular, is building rapidly.  

'Never say never.  

In fact, at some point, it may be "never say die."

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