How to Clone a Mammoth

How to Clone a Mammoth


If we had all the resources and biotechnology, what species should be brought back from extinction? In Chapter 2 of How to Clone a Mammoth, the author Beth Shapiro proposes seven questions that scientists should ask and answer when selecting a species for de-extinction. How does Shapiro answer these questions? And how would you explain it in your own words to someone who wants to start a de-extinction project?


Is there a compelling reason to bring this species back?

  • Why is this an important question?


  • What makes an “ideal candidate” for de-extinction?


Why did this species go extinct the first time?

  • Why is this an important question?


  • How have humans caused some species to go extinct? What are some examples?


Is there a place for this species to live if we successfully bring it back?

  • What does suitable habitat entail?


  • How will introducing this species affect the existing ecosystem?


  • Why is this an important question?


  • Why does Shapiro bring up the passenger pigeon as an example?


Will it be possible to learn the genome sequence?

  • What is the difference between a genome, chromosome, and nucleotide?


  • Outline the steps of sequencing and assembling the genome of an extinct species, as described by the author.


  • What are some of the challenges of assembling a genome for an extinct species?


Is there a way to transform the genome sequence into a living organism?

  • Outline the steps to bringing a mammoth back to life by editing an elephant genome to look like a mammoth genome.


Will it be possible to move the resulting living organism from captivity to a natural habitat?

  • Why is this an important question?



Once you answer these questions, make a visual to present the information to the public. Just as Beth Shapiro presented her information to the public in a TEDx talk, use easy-to-understand language that is also accurate. You may want to develop your own talk, or you can create a poster, graphic novel, or animation. An example of an animation of Beth Shapiro’s work can be found here.

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