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Book: Rise of the Necrofauna

Praise for Rise of the Necrofauna

“Wray explains scientific and ecological obstacles brilliantly. She is even better at disentangling ethical issues.” – The Sunday Times 

“Wray does a tremendous job of navigating the technicalities and controversies. The result is a triumph of clear thinking as gripping as any blockbuster.” – BBC Wildlife

“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.” – Nature

“A captivating whirlwind tour through the birth and early life of the scientific idea known as ‘de-extinction.'” —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, co-author of the IUCN De-extinction Guidelines and Professor of Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand 

“Timely and thought-provoking–a beacon of discussion-worthy science.”—George Church, Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School

The Book

Jurassic Park meets The Sixth Extinction in Rise of the Necrofauna, a provocative look at de-extinction from 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.

Foreword by George Church: 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 also the author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.

Published by Greystone Books in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.