How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life?

On March 7, Beth Shapiro, PhD, an evolutionary biologist and pioneer in ancient DNA research, comes to Kansas City’s Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology to address this intriguing question by exploring the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction.

From deciding which species should be restored to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Dr. Shapiro vividly examines the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used to resurrect the past. Considering de-extinction’s practical benefits and ethical challenges, she argues that the overarching goal should be the revitalization and stabilization of contemporary ecosystems, a process that will redefine conservation’s future.

About the Speaker: Beth Shapiro, PhD

Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. As Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz and HHMI Investigator, Dr. Shapiro uses DNA recovered from bones and other remains to study how species evolved through time and how human activities have affected and continue to affect this dynamic process. Her work focuses on organisms ranging from influenza to mammoths, asking questions about domestication, admixture, speciation, and pathogen evolution. Her current work develops techniques to recover increasingly trace amounts of DNA such as from environmental and forensic samples.

A 2009 MacArthur Fellow, Beth is also an award-winning popular science author and communicator who uses her research as a platform to explore the potential of genomic technologies for conservation and medicine. Her book, How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction, was published by Princeton University Press in 2015.

This program will be presented in person at the Linda Hall Library. If you would prefer to watch this program virtually, please follow this link to register:

This program is part of a three-part series that complements the free exhibition, Chained to the Sky: The Science of Birds, Past & Future. Exhibition galleries are open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday-Friday; 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on second Saturdays of each month; and during evenings when the Library hosts public programs.

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