What does a mammoth smell like? Do dinosaurs bob their heads as they walk, like today’s birds? Do aurochs moo like cows? You may soon find out.
From the Siberian permafrost to balmy California, scientists across the globe are working to resurrect all kinds of extinct animals, from ones that just left us to those that have been gone for many thousands of years. Their tools in this hunt are both fossils and cutting-edge genetic technologies. Some of these scientists are driven by sheer curiosity; others view the lost species as a powerful weapon in the fight to save rapidly disappearing ecosystems.
Science journalist Torill Kornfeldt travelled the world to meet the men and women working to bring extinct animals back from the dead. Along the way, she saw a mammoth that has been frozen for 20,000 years, and visited the places where these furry giants once walked. It seems certain that they and other lost species will walk the earth again, but what world will that give us? And is any of this a good idea?
‘Reading The Re-Origin of Species was a delightful adventure. Torill Kornfeldt took me by the hand and led me all around the world, and back through history, teaching me about how extinction works and how the restoration of all kinds of species, from the woolly mammoth to feathered dinosaurs, just may be a part of our future.’
Tim Urban, Wait But Why?
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‘[T]his excellent book, written with a deceptively light touch (in Fiona Graham’s translation) … raises a number of deep questions and paradoxes about our relationship with nature.’
‘[E]xpresses the full complexity of this topic in a lighthearted, masterful way, raising critical questions … which guide the reader to develop informed opinions about how humankind can limit the ongoing destruction of nature.’
‘The author's careful synthesis of accomplishment versus aspiration is also spot-on—even world-class scientists will be dreamers, and there is much more research to be conducted before mammoths once again lumber across the tundra. Wondrous tales of futuristic science experiments that happen to be true.’
‘Any number of terms apply to Torill Kornfeldt's fascinating overview of this profoundly important subject: clear-eyed. Skeptical. Open-minded. But the word that sticks with me is one I haven't had cause to use in a very long time: hopeful. The Re-Origin of Species gives me hope.’
Peter Watts, author of Blindsight and Starfish
‘The Re-Origin of Species is an engrossing exploration of a controversial area, written with a light touch and a journalist’s eye for detail.’
‘Kornfeldt does an excellent job of exposing the ethical dilemmas of bringing extinct creatures back to life.’
Kathryn Hughes, The Mail on Sunday