266 pages, no illustrations
In a world dominated by people and rapid climate change, species large and small are increasingly vulnerable to extinction. In Resurrection Science, journalist M. R. O'Connor explores the extreme measures scientists are taking to try and save them, from captive breeding and genetic management to de-extinction. Paradoxically, the more we intervene to save species, the less wild they often become. In stories of sixteenth-century galleon excavations, panther-tracking in Florida swamps, ancient African rainforests, Neanderthal tool-making, and cryogenic DNA banks, O'Connor investigates the philosophical questions of an age in which we "play god" with earth's biodiversity.
Each chapter in this beautifully written book focuses on a unique species, from the charismatic northern white rhinoceros to the infamous passenger pigeon and the people entwined in the animals' fates. Incorporating natural history and evolutionary biology with conversations with eminent ethicists, O'Connor's narrative goes to the heart of the human enterprise: What should we preserve of wilderness as we hurtle toward a future in which technology is present in nearly every aspect of our lives? How can we co-exist with species when our existence and their survival appear to be pitted against one another?
"Few topics in conservation are as dizzyingly futuristic as that of bringing extinct species back to life. A masterful explicator, O'Connor never loses sight of the moral weight and complexity of these aims, and this remarkable, important book makes gripping reading for anyone who cares about the end – or perhaps the beginning – of the world."
– Caroline Fraser, author of Rewilding The World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
"Gripping [...] [O'Connor] examines the complex, high-tech, usually expensive, and often controversial efforts to save species in peril and even long-gone."
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
1. The Ark of Toads – Nectophrynoides asperginis
2. Tracking Chimeras in the Fakahatchee Strand – Puma concolor coryi
3. Exuberant Evolution in a Desert Fish – Cyprinodon tularosa
4. Mysteries of the Whale Called 1334 – Eubalaena glacialis
5. Freezing Crows – Corvus hawaiiensis
6. Metaphysical Rhinos – Ceratotherium simum cottoni
7. Passenger Pigeon Regenesis – Neo-Ectopistes migratorius
8. Nice to Meet You, Neanderthal – Homo neanderthalensis
Ends of the Earth
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M. R. O'Connor's reporting has appeared in Foreign Policy, Slate, Salon, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, and has received support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. An alumni of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, she lives in Brooklyn, NY.