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New gene-editing technology could revive everything from the passenger pigeon to the woolly mammoth. But should scientists be playing God?
The pigeons are outwardly unremarkable. Thirteen birds, ages two weeks to three months, occupy a coop at an animal research facility west of Melbourne, Australia. They’re descendants of the common rock pigeon, recognizable denizens of city squares and park benches—with one small but crucial distinction. These are the first pigeons in history with reproductive systems that contain the Cas9 gene, an essential component of the Crispr gene-editing tool. The squabs of this flock will be born with the Cas9 gene in every one of their cells, allowing scientists to edit their offspring with DNA from the extinct passenger pigeon....