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Passenger pigeon display at Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Passenger pigeon display at Royal Ontario Museum
1 Sep 2014

Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has just opened 'Empty Skies: The Passenger Pigeon Legacy' - a display marking 100 years since the passenger pigeon became extinct.

Having opened August 23rd, the exhibition will be in place up to April 12th next year, and visitors can find it within the  Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity, where it is being shown inside the Gallery of Birds.

The show examines how the species died out, and explores conserving biodiversity and de-extinction. It shows items from Royal Ontario Museum passenger pigeon collection, which haven't been put on show for over three decades.

People taking in the display will find it is in two different sections. The first, including ten pigeon specimens, is called '100 Years of Silence'. The second has 11 extinct or endangered types on show, such as the Barn Swallow, which is under threat at the moment. This section is called 'A Future with Song'.

People can look at a reproduced version of a diorama first shown in the museum from the mid 1930s to the 1980s.

"This is an important exhibition to share during the ROM’s Centennial year because it highlights ways that the ROM’s collections are continually used by the scientific community to make new discoveries," said Dr Mark Engstrom, deputy director of collections & research at ROM.

"In this case, our collection is being used to examine the exciting possibility that one day we might be able to bring back an extinct species."

Passenger pigeons were native to North America and during the 1800s it's estimated they numbered as many as five billion globally.

Their population plummeted, however,  when they were hunted on a large scale.

By 1914, they were extinct, with the last example dying at Cincinnati Zoo that year.

In modern times, DNA taken from the Royal Ontario Museum passenger pigeon specimen collection is playing a part in research looking into whether the species could be resurrected.ADNFCR-408-ID-801745878-ADNFCR

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