Resurrection for the passenger pigeon?

Scientists might be able to patch together enough remnants of the pigeon's genome to bring the species back to life.

It might take years to reconstruct, but DNA from dried museum specimens would reveal the genetic sequence unique to passenger pigeons.

Substitutes for missing pieces of the genome would come from band-tailed pigeons.

Reconstructed genome

Supplemental genome

Combined genome

Patagioenas fasciata

Ectopistes migratorius

Stem cell

Germ cells



The final genetic sequence would be added as chromosomes to a stem cell that would develop into germ cells, the precursors of eggs and sperm.

Germ cells injected into early embryos of band-tailed pigeons would migrate to the gonadal regions of the embryos.

Squabs would mature and breed to produce birds genetically similar to passenger pigeons.

Rock doves

Passenger pigeons

The birds would be taught to migrate by following homing pigeons (white rock doves dyed to look like passenger pigeons) to varying locations both in the north for breeding and in the south for wintering, although much of the bird's historical habitat has disappeared.

SOURCES: PLOS One; Tedx DeExtinction; GRAPHIC: The Washington Post. Published July 9, 2013.