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Rise of the Necrofauna

The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction

Regular price $32.95 CAD
  • ISBN: 9781771641647
  • Tags: Britt Wray, George Church, Nature & Environment, Science,
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
  • Published On: 9/30/2017
  • 288 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781771641630
  • Tags: Britt Wray, George Church, Nature & Environment, Science,
  • Published On: 9/30/2017
  • 288 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781771644723
  • Tags: Britt Wray, George Church, Nature & Environment, Science,

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New Yorker and Science News 

What happens when you try to recreate a woolly mammoth—fascinating science, or conservation catastrophe?

Jurassic Park meets The Sixth Extinction in Rise of the Necrofauna, a provocative look at de-extinction from acclaimed documentarist and science writer Britt Wray, PhD.

In Rise of the Necrofauna, Wray takes us deep into the minds and labs of some of the world’s most progressive thinkers to find out. She introduces us to renowned futurists like Stewart Brand and scientists like George Church, who are harnessing the powers of CRISPR gene editing in the hopes of “reviving” extinct passenger pigeons, woolly mammoths, and heath hens. She speaks with Nikita Zimov, who together with his eclectic father Sergey, is creating Siberia’s Pleistocene Park—a daring attempt to rebuild the mammoth’s ancient ecosystem in order to save earth from climate disaster. Through interviews with these and other thought leaders, Wray reveals the many incredible opportunities for research and conservation made possible by this emerging new field.

But we also hear from more cautionary voices, like those of researcher and award-winning author Beth Shapiro (How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth) and environmental philosopher Thomas van Dooren. Writing with passion and perspective, Wray delves into the larger questions that come with this incredible new science, reminding us that de-extinction could bring just as many dangers as it does possibilities. What happens, for example, when we bring an “unextinct” creature back into the wild? How can we care for these strange animals and ensure their comfort and safety—not to mention our own? And what does de-extinction mean for those species that are currently endangered? Is it really ethical to bring back an extinct passenger pigeon, for example, when countless other birds today will face the same fate?

By unpacking the many biological, technological, ethical, environmental, and legal questions raised by this fascinating new field, Wray offers a captivating look at the best and worst of resurrection science.

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

Britt Wray PhD is an award winning author and Stanford researcher working at the intersection of climate change and mental health. She is the author of two books, the nationally bestselling Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis, and Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics and Risks of De-Extinction, which the New Yorker called a "best book of 2017". She is the Director of CIRCLE at Stanford Psychiatry, a research and action initiative focused on community-minded interventions for resilience, climate leadership and emotional wellbeing in the Stanford School of Medicine, and is the founder of the Gen Dread newsletter. Britt has given talks at TED and the World Economic Forum, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian, among other publications. 

George Church is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical school, where his lab is trying to create a woolly mammoth-like species using gene editing techniques. He is the author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves and was recently named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People for his contributions to genetic research.


"[Rise of the Necrofauna] reintroduced me to the earth. What stuck with me more than the ambitious science—which Wray makes exceptionally accessible—is her attention to the paradoxes of human vanity."
—The New Yorker

"De-extinction is so hot a topic it sizzles. Science writer Britt Wray braves the heat for a neat overview of the science and its ethical and environmental implications ... The skeptics, including biologist Paul Ehrlich, add balance to Wray's tour of this hellishly complex, decidedly nascent field."

"Wray does a tremendous job of navigating the technicalities and controversies [of de-extinction]. The result is a triumph of clear thinking as gripping as any blockbuster."
—BBC Wildlife

"Thrilling, sparklingly clear and wonderfully balanced... Wray explains scientific and ecological obstacles brilliantly. She is even better at disentangling ethical issues."
—The Times UK

"Britt Wray delves into the ethical conversation around de-extinction, talking to scientists hoping to revive woolly mammoths and cautionary environmental philosophers on the other side of the issue."
—CBC Books

"A fascinating and nuanced discussion about what we ought to be doing as de facto stewards of the planet’s biodiversity."
—Globe and Mail

"As Wray tells it, the hypotheticals of de-extinction are coming true, and as they do, they create new moral quandaries and unforeseen ecological risks."
—National Post

"Examines a number of perspectives on using genetic engineering to foment 'de-extinction.'"
—Burbank Leader

"Wray provides a fascinating survey of how (and why) biotechnologists are toiling away in labs to bring back extinct animals like the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth."

"Rise of the Necrofauna is a truly engaging read and thought provoking to say the least. Wray’s enthusiasm is infectious, making a technical and complex subject both approachable and captivating."
—Inside Ecology

"The tale she has to tell is an interesting one. Not only does she discuss the scientific pursuit of de-extinction, but she also thoughtfully addresses the ethical objections to reviving a dead species."
—Literary Review

"An insightful introduction to a fascinating but controversial subject. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal

"[An] invigorating new book… a contour map of [the] burgeoning—and undeniably fascinating—field [of de-extinction]"
—Quill & Quire

"Wray’s attempt to come to grips with [the] issues [of de-extinction] is interwoven with her skillful description of the science and interviews with colourful personalities."
—Science Borealis

"Anyone concerned about our natural environment and human ethics should read Britt Wray’s Rise of the Necrofauna."
—Westmount Magazine

"Controversial as this topic is, Wray has written a fascinating book that reads effortlessly (I breezed through it in a day), is right up-to-date, and will surely fuel discussion."
—The Inquisitive Biologist

"[Wray's] educational background in biology and science communication, combined with her experience as a radio broadcaster and writer, creates an easy, conversational tone with a touch of humor."
—Whole Terrain

"A fascinating subject explored with intelligence and little bias. This is terrific science reporting."
—Manhattan Book Review

"Wray, a science communicator, is ideally suited to the task of writing a book like this."
—WPSU Radio


"Timely and thought-provoking— beacon of discussion-worthy science."
—George Church, PhD, Author of Regenesis and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School

"One of the most lucid and comprehensive reviews available of the controversial emerging field of de-extinction, offering a wonderful balance of fact, interview, analysis, and opinion. I will be dipping into this book again and again."
—Philip Seddon, PhD, Author of the IUCN’s Guidelines on De-Extinction and Professor of Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand

"A captivating whirlwind tour through the birth and early life of the scientific idea known as ‘de-extinction.’"
—Beth Shapiro, PhD, author of How to Clone a Mammoth

"Read this illuminating and fun primer on the idea known as de-extinction.”
—David Biello, author of The Unnatural World