Extinct almost 200 years ago, a species of penguin could be resurrected

Nearly 200 years after its disappearance on the British coast, the species of the « Great Auk » could come back to life since geneticists want to revive this bird which has already been one of the inhabitants of the Earth for thousands of years. years, and who disappeared in 1844.

It was on the Atlantic coasts, from the British coast to Iceland and from the Canadian coasts to those of the eastern United States, that the « great auk » lived, a species which saw its last representative disappear in July 1844. A little less than 200 years after the disappearance of the one who populated the Earth for thousands of years, geneticists want to reintroduce among living species this bird, one meter high, with a white spot on its head and a hooked beak, which lived in the water and only came out to reproduce.

It was hunting that got the better of the species, despite the fact that as early as the 16th century, attempts to control the activity were launched in the face of the rapid decline of the great auk population. The failed attempts to restrict hunting led to the last of the great auks being killed in July 1844, on the small island of ‘Warrior Stack’, Scotland.

Credits: Richard Lydekker / Wikipedia

It is perhaps because the species did not go extinct naturally that geneticists now want to carry out a  » genetic rescue » the great auk, and other species that subsequently disappeared (one thinks, for example, of the mammoth, whose rehabilitation process has already begun). For the geneticists of Revive & Restore, it is thanks to the DNA of the bird that we will be able to reintroduce it on Earth. From fossils or preserved organs, scientists want to extract the genes of the great auk to reconstitute its genome, and fertilize the embryo of a little auk, the species that is closest to it. Once fertilized, the embryo will then be placed in a larger bird, which may or may not give birth to a great auk.


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