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De-Extinction: A Mammoth Undertaking: Can Ancient DNA Re-create Lost Species?

Evening Lecture with Book Signing

Monday, May 4, 2015 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1C0044

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Could extinct species like woolly mammoths and passenger pigeons be brought back to life? Recent science says yes. Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist and pioneer in ancient DNA research, discusses the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction covered in her new book, How to Clone a Mammoth (Princeton University Press).

From deciding which species should be restored to sequencing their genomes to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro explores the extraordinary science that is being used today to resurrect the past. She journeys to far-flung Siberian locales in search of Ice-Age bones and delves into her own research—as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Paabo, George Church, and Craig Venter—to consider de-extinction's practical benefits and ethical challenges.

Shapiro is associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Award.

Her book is available for signing after the program.

Smithsonian & Other Connections

Using DNA collected from remains as a genetic blueprint, scientists aim to engineer extinct traits, which evolved by natural selection over thousands of years, into living organisms. A laboratory in South Korea now offers a unique and high-priced pet-cloning service. Could this technique also be used to clone a woolly mammoth?

Read the Washington Post article "Can Scientists Bring Mammoths Back to Life by Cloning?"


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)