How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction


How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro

Synopsis: Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. In How to Clone a Mammoth, Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in “ancient DNA” research, walks readers through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used–today–to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research–as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Pääbo, George Church, and Craig Venter–Shapiro considers de-extinction’s practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal?

Using DNA collected from remains as a genetic blueprint, scientists aim to engineer extinct traits–traits that evolved by natural selection over thousands of years–into living organisms. But rather than viewing de-extinction as a way to restore one particular species, Shapiro argues that the overarching goal should be the revitalization and stabilization of contemporary ecosystems. For example, elephants with genes modified to express mammoth traits could expand into the Arctic, re-establishing lost productivity to the tundra ecosystem.

Looking at the very real and compelling science behind an idea once seen as science fiction, How to Clone a Mammoth demonstrates how de-extinction will redefine conservation’s future.

Published: April 2014 | ISBN: 9780691157054

Mini-bio: Beth A. Shapiro is an American evolutionary molecular biologist. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Shapiro’s work has centered on the analysis of ancient DNA. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009. – Wikipedia
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One thought on “How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

  1. I Love this. We have destroyed so very much on this planet. It is about time we brought some things back that belong on this planet. Some will say it is “survival of the fittest” and that those creatures that went extinct shouldn’t have survived if they weren’t strong enough. However, we twisted nature, destroying for pleasure, over-hunting, spreading diseases, destroying habitat. I hope I am still alive to see a Mammoth come back to life!

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