The Dallas-based “de-extinction” company Colossal Biosciences has partnered with Zoos Victoria, an Australian-based conservation organization, to protect the recently rediscovered and “critically endangered” Victorian grassland earless dragon.
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla, otherwise known as the Victorian grassland earless dragon, is a small dragon lizard of about 5 inches in length that is indigenous to Australia, according to Australia’s Department of Sustainability and Environment.
The creature was thought to be extinct, however, the Australian government announced over the summer that the species had been rediscovered in Wadawurrung Country, having been hidden for 54 years.
Zoos Australia and Colossal Biosciences have partnered to create an “interim insurance and conservation breeding program” that makes use of genome sequencing at Melbourne Zoo to grow the numbers of the species, according to a press release. The program will also restore and protect the reptile’s natural habitat ahead of an eventual reintroduction to the wild.
Ben Lamm, CEO and co-founder of Colossal Biosciences, said that endeavors such as this are the core of the company’s purpose.
“Our focus includes the de-extinction of select lost species, the preservation of endangered species, and the restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Lamm. “We are really excited about helping to establish the means to create an insurance and conservation breeding program for the once-feared lost earless dragon.”
The partners hope to apply the techniques utilized in the earless dragon project to benefit other species.
“Our partnership with Colossal has great potential to explore and apply more novel genetic techniques for a range of species in need,” said Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria. “It’s a great example of how different organizations can collaborate to address the urgent need for species preservation and ecosystem restoration.”
Colossal Biosciences is no stranger to preserving the Earth’s endangered species or trying to bring back some of the extinct ones. The company announced its intention to use a new program to resurrect the long-extinct dodo bird from extinction earlier this year in February, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.