Bring Back Martha: The Return of the Extinct Passenger Pigeon

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A sketch of the passenger pigeon from 1902.
From and

Everybody loves a comeback, right? Science may be behind the craziest comeback story yet.

Once the most common vertebrate in the continent, the last captive passenger pigeon died 100 years ago. Now, a group of scientists is trying to discover a way to bring them back through a process of editing and replacing genomes.

Researchers say the passenger pigeon is an ideal candidate for de-extinction due to the large available data set of passenger pigeon tissue and DNA, as well as extensive historical records on the creature. 

Ben Novak, lead scientist for The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback, explains why they are devoting attention to this particular animal and how the process of de-extinction works.  

Passenger pigeons ondisplay at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY.
Passenger pigeons ondisplay at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY. ( Ben Novak )
Passenger pigeons on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.
Passenger pigeons on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. ( Ben Novak )
A passenger pigeon specimen at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, courtesy of Curator Carla Cicero.
A passenger pigeon specimen at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, courtesy of Curator Carla Cicero. ( Ben Novak )
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