Quirks & Quarks

How to Clone a Mammoth

Ancient DNA may make it possible to restore extinct species, but there are considerable scientific challenges and many important ethical issues to consider.

Looking at the science and ethics of de-extinction

Artist's impression of Woolly Mammoths (Mauricio Antón)
The idea that animals that have died out within the last several tens of thousands of years could be re-created with advanced biotechnology is one that has captured the attention of the public and some scientists. There are, in fact, groups that have attempted the first steps of this by, recovering genes from ancient DNA preserved in permafrost and inserting them into the cells of modern animals.
But according to Dr. Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, cloning a mammoth (or other extinct species) is not possible - yet - and may never be wise.

In her new book, How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction, she takes a critical look at the many technical challenges that remain to be solved to recover species, and the ethical, environmental and ecological issues that need to be considered before scientists should try.

Related Links

How to Clone a Mammoth - Princeton University Press
- Dr. Shaprio's TEDx talk on de-extinction
- Quirks & Quarks - The Mammoth Genome
- Quirks & Quarks - Thinking about De-Extinction