Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction

Greystone. Oct. 2017. 288p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781771641647. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781771641630. SCI
OrangeReviewStarThanks to advances in ancient DNA research and genetic engineering, the dreams of bringing back an extinct creature such as the woolly mammoth or the passenger pigeon may soon become a reality. Science journalist and radio broadcaster Wray explains the biotechnologies that make deextinction possible, discusses projects currently underway, and introduces the enthusiastic scientists who are engaged in this challenging effort as well as those critical of it. She also points out the myriad ethical, legal, economic, and animal welfare issues surrounding deextinction, which make the biological hurdles seem almost straightforward. Wray perceptively questions the motivations of scientists and the justifications given for their work: should a woolly mammoth be brought back because it would be "cool" and people might pay to see one; shouldn't we focus on helping endangered species instead of trying to revive long-gone fauna; is deextinction a vanity project of genetic tinkerers or does it really have a potential role to play in ecosystem restoration?
VERDICT An insightful introduction to a fascinating but controversial subject. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed M.R. O'Connor's Resurrection Science or have an interest in the brave new world of genetic engineering.
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