March 10, 2010
Researchers Extract DNA from Eggs of Extinct Birds
Could extinct birds, including the massive elephant birds that were once native to Madagascar, be resurrected using DNA extracted from fossilized egg shells?
Not necessarily, say the researchers who have successfully done just that. But it does give paleontologists a new way to explore ancient creatures that no longer roam the Earth.
According to a March 10, 2010 AFP article, Bunce's team was only able to retrieve 250 base pairs of DNA from each sample. He emphasizes that the point of their work was "to show that it can be done. We didn't go out to get very long pieces of DNA. That's obviously the next step."
However, that doesn't mean that readers should expect to see the 10-foot-tall, 800-plus-pound elephant bird to make a return anytime soon.
As Bunce told the AFP's Richard Ingham in a phone interview, "We can reassemble the genome to get an idea of what an extinct species looked like. But (resurrecting it) is still in the realm of science fiction. It's completely hypothetical, and frankly not a debate I really want to have."
The study was published this week in the leading scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Image Caption: Elephant bird eggs. Courtesy Wikipedia
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