The extinction of passenger pigeons was a man-made catastrophe. The bird, also known as the wild pigeon, was once widely eaten throughout North America. Such passion for hunting is both why the passenger pigeon is now extinct and why it may not be the first bird to benefit from the tools of synthetic biology. Just over a century ago, the world’s last passenger pigeon died at Ohio’s Cincinnati Zoo on September 1. As recently as 1850, passenger pigeons were the most abundant bird in North America, and possibly even the world, with billions of birds alive in the early nineteenth century. P rior to our research, little was known about the diversity (or lack thereof) of their diet. When Europeans settled in North America in the late 1500s, the E. migratorius population was as high as six billion in its forest habitat in eastern North America, up to 40 percent of the total bird population on the continent. A rampant bludgeoning and shooting for sport (before clay pigeons were used) and a … Since she had never laid a fertile egg and the zoo’s $1,000 reward for any male passenger pigeon to mate with her had remained unclaimed, extinction was a foregone conclusion. This suggests that an unchecked commercial pigeon industry was likely the more important driver behind the birds’ extinction. De-extinction of the passenger pigeon will not be an easy job, either from a social or a genetic perspective, Hung notes. More than 100 years after passenger pigeons disappeared from the wild, scientists believe they can recreate the species through a painstaking, controversial “de-extinction” process. The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a large member of the pigeon family in eastern North America that went extinct over 100 years ago. A new study of the passenger pigeon's genome, published Thursday in the journal Science, dives into the debate over this famous extinction.The paper argues that the passenger pigeon… The extinction set off a worldwide bird conservation movement. On 14 September 1914, the last Passenger pigeon died in a cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. These birds measured about 16 inches long with a 2-foot wingspan, and weighed between 0.5 and 0.75 pounds (PA Game Commission 2010 ). Of all the extinct species that have ever lived, the passenger pigeon had the most spectacular demise, plummeting from a population of billions to a population of exactly zero in less than 100 years. To support their assumption that creatures go extinct because of humans, many researchers have pointed fingers at the passenger pigeon (extinct). It is the only species for which we know the exact date of extinction. Our study found that passenger pigeons could live off other foods, including farmers’ crops.
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