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The Re-Origin of Species: a second chance…
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The Re-Origin of Species: a second chance for extinct animals

by Torill Kornfeldt

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Since I heard about the attempts to bring the Mammoth back from extinction several years ago I have been fascinated with the concept and this dream. I found this book to be fascinating, especially in the realization that there is not a single method to resurrecting the plethora of extinct species. This book travels the world and explores the many different methods being researched by different scientists working with different animals. Indeed, it seems as though each species requires careful consideration to determine what approach may be most effective. I admit that I was a little disappointed that some scientists are spending time making these small incremental changes to extant species to give them one trait or another from an extinct species, in effect creating a limited hybrid or an animal that is superficially similar to an extinct species, but in actuality not very similar after all. It is an interesting goal, but not what I am most interested in: reviving a specimen that is nearly identical to the extinct species. The methods themselves are quite complex and difficult for the average reader to understand, but I felt like this book struck a good balance of technical detail that was understandable without having an advanced degree in some field of genetics or microbiology. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the scientific efforts to revive extinct species. ( )
  zdufran | Jan 29, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Torill Kornfeldt got interested in efforts to “bring back” extinct species through genetic manipulation and other techniques like cloning. I say”bring back” because what that really means depends on who’s doing the research - for instance, some methods involve adding genes from extinct species to existing animals, while others involve reproducing the whole animal in toto through cloning. All sorts of side issues get raised through this work like questions of how ancient animals fit into today’s environment or can we do harm to ourselves and the world around us by reintroducing extinct species. A thought-provoking and interesting book.

Unfortunately, all I could think of while reading this was “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” Really, have any of these scientists watched science fiction movies?! ( )
  drneutron | Jan 19, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Since the release of Jurassic Park both scientists and the public have dreamed wildly about the possibility of somehow bringing back extinct fauna to roam the earth again. Kornfeldt, a science journalist in Sweden, summarizes in this book a number of current research projects which, by one method or another, all have this lofty goal. Whether the ultimate aim is a woolly mammoth or the only recently-extinct passenger pigeon, the methods vary -- from extraction of ancient DNA to breeding in (or out) particular characteristics of existing creatures and working backward. Like the author, I am concerned about ethical implications and somewhat dubious about the extent to which these feats can be realized, but also hugely excited about the possibilities.

I received this ARC via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. ( )
  ryner | Jan 19, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There are scientists who, right now, are working on things like resurrecting the mammoth or back-engineering a chicken into something resembling a dinosaur. Some of these de-extinction projects, especially ones focused on recently vanished or still-vanishing animals, involve cloning. In others, it's more a case of altering existing creatures to recreate features of their extinct relatives, such as giving a modern elephant wool and a high tolerance for cold. But this book doesn't focus so much on the how as on the why, and on the question of what you then do with the resulting animals and whether it's a good idea. It turns out that that's a very debatable question, as the ultimate aims of some of these researchers involve re-introducing these animals into the wild, and people can and do make some pretty good arguments about why that's either highly desirable or terribly misguided.

It's a really interesting question, and one that we definitely want to be thinking about before we have the technology to make it happen and not after. I will confess, though, I didn't find the book to be quite as fascinating as I'd hoped. I think part of it is that I would have liked a rather deeper dive into the ecological science of the issue. (What Kornfeldt does describe about the possible ecological roles of creatures like mammoths is really interesting.) I also think that the author's presentation of the arguments of the various scientists she's interviewed as they consider the subject is a lot more interesting than her own musings about her mixed feelings on the subject, which aren't bad, but do get a little repetitive. I also can't help but wonder if the writing reads a little better in the original Swedish. There's nothing wrong with it, mind you, but there is so often a slightly unnatural quality to writing in translation, and I think there is a bit of that here, too. (Also, just as a slightly amusing side note, according the the translator's note, a lot of the scientists were originally interviewed in English, but transcripts of the original English interviews weren't available, so they've been re-translated back into English from Swedish. Which has the slightly odd result of making the Americans among them sound like Brits!)

Anyway, the upshot here is that I didn't find it to be one of those page-turnery works of non-fiction, but I did find its explorations of the questions it raises interesting and very much worth considering, and I very much like the way Kornfeldt even-handedly gives us the perspectives of various people who disagree with each other. I've read a bit about these de-extinction projects before, but I think this one offers a perspective on them that my previous exposures to the idea were lacking. ( )
  bragan | Dec 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In The Re-Origin of the Species, science journalist Torill Kornfeldt expertly leads us on a highly accessible world tour of the ongoing efforts to resurrect extinct animal species. In her Introduction, she smartly frames these endeavors with references to the the tale of Prometheus, who defied the gods to bring knowledge to humankind, and Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus: "...what might happen if human pride and ambition overreached themselves in a bid to emulate God." While recent scientific techniques enable us to envision and attempt the re-creation of long gone species, the resulting questions are inevitable: It it the right thing to do? Is it ethical? Has science gone too far? Will there be unforeseen consequences of these best intentions? How would the introduction of a "new" species affect the existing ecosystem as a whole? With a light touch, clear and concise explanations, and painstaking evenhandedness, Kornfeldt explores these efforts by visiting the sites of the cutting-edge scientific studies and interviewing the researchers doing the work. It should be noted that Fiona Graham's English translation from the original Swedish flows effortlessly, and is certainly an integral element in the book's overall appeal. ( )
  ghr4 | Dec 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
[T]here are a surprising number of [...] projects that aim to bring back more recently vanished wild animals, from the woolly mammoth to the Pyrenean ibex. Advances in gene-editing technology promise to make “de‑extinction” a potentially viable enterprise, but what exactly is the point? To answer this question, the Swedish science journalist Torill Kornfeldt has travelled to meet the researchers involved for this excellent book, written with a deceptively light touch (in Fiona Graham’s translation), that raises a number of deep questions and paradoxes about our relationship with nature.
added by anglemark | editThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Jul 28, 2018)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Torill Kornfeldtprimary authorall editionscalculated
Graham, FionaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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