Colossal Biosciences, the world’s first de-extinction company, just announced an oversubscribed $150M Series B financing run. Overshadowing the pomp and circumstance of a massive financial raise, and the fact that they are probably the first “de-extinction unicorn” with a valuation over 1 billion dollars, the company has also announced plans to return the Dodo bird from extinction.
Co-founded by software entrepreneur Ben Lamm with geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D., Colossal is focused on the protection of critically endangered species and the repopulation of critical ecosystems that allow them to thrive. The company made headlines in 2021, announcing that it was planning to bring the woolly mammoth back from the cold icy grave. Several months ago, the company made headlines again, saying that it had plans to use its genetic process to resurrect the Tasmanian tiger.
Colossal became the first company to apply CRISPR technology to aid in such “de-extinction” efforts. In today’s announcement, the company has created a new challenge for itself; the famous flightless Dodo bird.
“In just a little over a year, we’ve made tremendous progress in our efforts to re-introduce the Woolly Mammoth and the Thylacine. Bringing back the iconic Dodo is a natural next step in our de-extinction journey,” Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal, told The Debrief.
Along for the ride is paleogeneticist, Dr. Beth Shapiro, the latest member of Colossal’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“The Dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we – people – made it impossible for them to survive in their native habitat,” Shapiro said in an interview, “having focused on genetic advancements in ancient DNA for my entire career and as the first to fully sequence the Dodo’s genome, I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the Dodo.”
The Dodo is believed to have vanished in the late 1600s, with the last recorded sighting occurring in 1662 on the island of Mauritius in Africa. An iconic extinction story, it symbolizes how human populations can quickly destroy an entire species by simply altering its home and ecosystem.
Whether Colossal will actually be able to successfully resurrect any of these animals is still unknown, but the company promised to have mammoth calves running around by 2028. Whether it happens or not, the company has drawn significant interest from big VC firms and celebrity investors alike, such as Paris Hilton and Tony Robbins. Even the CIA has dipped its foot into Colossal’s waters, when it announced that its venture-capital arm In-Q-Tel, was investing.
“From predators to pollinators, birds play an undeniable role in the preservation of ecosystems all over the world,” Lamm said. “We’re excited to launch our Avian Genomics Group to reintroduce organisms that offer unparalleled ecological value to their natural habitats.”
MJ Banias is the host of “The Debrief Weekly Report” podcast and a journalist who covers defense, science, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @mjbanias.