Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures
By Ben Mezrich
Atria Books, 2017. 293 pgs. Nonfiction
Science meets ancient history in this account of the scientists working to bring back the extinct woolly mammoth. Under the leadership of leading geneticist Dr. George Church, a group of researchers are using the sequenced DNA of a frozen mammoth to alter the genes of a modern elephant to recreate, at least in part, these legendary beasts.
The issues and obstacles for such a project are almost as daunting as the tusked animals themselves and Mezrich presents them in an approachable but still scientific way. While I found the genetics interesting I actually found the research of Russian conservationists truly fascinating. Their plan to recreate a Siberian pasture ecosystem that could help us slow down climate change is insanely cool (no pun intended).
Descriptions of the personal lives and individual passions of the researchers involved make this book more narrative than most science writing. And while this story is definitely still being written as scientists continue toward their mammoth goals, Woolly is a wonderful representation of what has been and the exciting possibilities on the horizon.