cover image Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-extinction

Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-extinction

Helen Pilcher. Sigma, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4729-1225-1

Pilcher, a British science journalist and comedian, details how scientists are using the latest advances in molecular genetics and reproductive biology to explore possibilities in the realm of de-extinction. Though de-extinction isn’t an established scientific field—at least not yet—Pilcher reveals that researchers are finding ways to re-create genomes of extinct species and figuring out how to turn such genomes into living, breathing organisms. They’re also attempting to increase the reproductive capacity of endangered species that are not yet extinct. In accessible prose, Pilcher describes many of those techniques as well as the passion of those involved in these efforts. She also explores the current technical limitations and explains why we will likely never be able to bring back extinct species of dinosaurs and the vast majority of species that have been lost. Pilcher presents an insightful discussion of the ethical and ecological reasons why it might not make sense to do so even if we could. Whether she’s dealing with wooly mammoths, peculiar Australian frogs, Neanderthals, or Elvis Presley, she asks provocative questions about both the nature of science and what it means to be human. Pilcher uses humor effectively to keep readers engaged, and there is a great deal here to entertain and educate them. (Jan.)