cover image The Re-origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals

The Re-origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals

Torill Kornfeldt, trans. from the Swedish by Fiona Graham. Scribe, $18.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-9475-343-6-0

Amid the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, a handful of individuals are working to bring lost species back to life, as Kornfeldt, a Swedish journalist, reports in this intriguing but superficial account. Kornfeldt interviews researchers intent on recreating mammoths and passenger pigeons, saving the northern white rhino, and reintroducing chestnut trees to North America, but in each case, she presents only a thin veneer of information. Her coverage of Sergey and Nikita Zimov, a Russian father and son team working to restore not just an individual species, but the entire Siberian steppe, proves the most rewarding and consequential. The Zimovs explain that, as the ecosystem has changed, largely because of the demise of large herbivores, the permafrost has begun to melt—and unless action is taken, by the end of the century, the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from the once frozen ground may “correspond to about a tenth of the total yearly anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.” Originally published in Sweden in 2016, the book has undergone little updating despite dealing with a rapidly changing scientific field. Those looking for insight into the mechanics of cutting-edge science, or a deeper investigation of the philosophical underpinnings of the de-extinction movement, will likely be disappointed. (Nov.)