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Newsstand: August 25, 2014

Burger King and Tim Hortons may merge, passenger pigeons could come back from extinction, and some kindly old elephants are enjoying their retirement: the news today might have implications down the road, but for now, enjoy the sci-fi-ness of recreating an entirely extinct species.

matt newsstand gull

Scientists in the United States will soon begin trying to recreate an endangered species using samples from Toronto. More specifically, they will be trying to recreate passenger pigeons, once the most populous bird on the planet, and they’ll be using DNA samples from the ROM’s collection of the bird. Passenger pigeons were hunted to extinction over the course of just 50 years and have been extinct for a century, but scientists are hopeful that by splicing their DNA into the genome of the band-tailed pigeon, a close relative, the passenger pigeon can be brought back. If successful, it would be the first time an entirely extinct species was revived. ROM curator Mark Peck admitted that “the ethical and social implications are huge,” but said the museum decided those would be the responsibility of legislators.

Former Toronto Zoo elephants Iringa, Toka, and Thika have transitioned well into their new home at the Performing Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Sanctuary in San Andreas, California. The elephants were moved nine months ago amid concerns about, among other things, keeping such warm-weather animals in captivity during Canadian winters. Now, the three seem to have adapted to living outside their once-cramped quarters. With ages ranging from 33 to 45, the elephants are all quite old by captive standards: the average lifespan of an elephant in captivity is 37 or 38 years. Nevertheless, Iringa, the eldest, seems to be in reasonably good shape.

Rumours are swirling of an impending Tim Hortons-Burger King merger, which would create the third-largest fast-food company in the world. The two restaurants would apparently continue to operate individually.

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