Beth Shapiro

discusses

How To Clone A Mammoth:
The Science of De-Extinction

This event includes a book signing

Date

May
6
Wednesday
May 6, 2015
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes evolutionary biologist and pioneer in "ancient DNA" research BETH SHAPIRO for a discussion of her book How To Clone A Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction.

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. In How to Clone a Mammoth, Beth Shapiro walks readers through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used—today—to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research—as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Pääbo, George Church, and Craig Venter—Shapiro considers de-extinction's practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal?

Using DNA collected from remains as a genetic blueprint, scientists aim to engineer extinct traits—traits that evolved by natural selection over thousands of years—into living organisms. But rather than viewing de-extinction as a way to restore one particular species, Shapiro argues that the overarching goal should be the revitalization and stabilization of contemporary ecosystems. For example, elephants with genes modified to express mammoth traits could expand into the Arctic, re-establishing lost productivity to the tundra ecosystem.

Looking at the very real and compelling science behind an idea once seen as science fiction, How to Clone a Mammoth demonstrates how de-extinction will redefine conservation's future.

Beth Shapiro
Beth Shapiro

Beth Shapiro

Beth Shapiro is associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Nature and Science, and she was a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Award. She lives in Santa Cruz.

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