Rise of the Necrofauna
The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction
- ISBN: 9781771641647
- Tags: Britt Wray, George Church, Nature & Environment, Science,
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
- Published On: 9/30/2017
- 288 Pages
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.
What happens when you try to recreate a woolly mammoth—fascinating science, or conservation catastrophe?
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 is a radio broadcaster and writer and has worked as a host and producer on programs for CBC Radio. She holds a BSc in Biology and is a PhD candidate in Science Communication with a Focus on Synthetic Biology at the University of Copenhagen.
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 is a captivating whirlwind tour through the birth and early life of the scientific idea known as “de-extinction.” A combination of informative storytelling and personal journey, the book explores the principles of ethics and morality that guide both the proponents and critics of the idea, deciding in the end that both sides are probably right."
—Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction
"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, Author of the IUCN’s Guidelines on De-Extinction and Professor of Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand
"In this brave new era of global change, one of the biggest legacies people will leave hides in evolution. Whether it’s our long war on big animals or scientists busily rewriting genomes to resurrect lost creatures, humans have altered life on Earth. To learn more about how we might shape a better future for life and all that may entail, please read this illuminating and fun primer on the idea known as de-extinction."
—David Biello, author of The Unnatural World