If you could bring back just one animal from the past, what would you choose? It can be anyone or anything from history, from the King of the Dinosaurs, T. rex, to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, and beyond.
De-extinction – the ability to bring extinct species back to life – is fast becoming reality. Around the globe, scientists are trying to de-extinct all manner of animals, including the woolly mammoth, the passenger pigeon and a bizarre species of flatulent frog. But de-extinction is more than just bringing back the dead. It's a science that can be used to save species, shape evolution and sculpt the future of life on our planet.
In Bring Back the King, scientist and comedy writer Helen Pilcher goes on a quest to identify the perfect de-extinction candidate. Along the way, she asks if Elvis could be recreated from the DNA inside a pickled wart, investigates whether it's possible to raise a pet dodo, and considers the odds of a 21st century Neanderthal turning heads on public transport.
Pondering the practicalities and the point of de-extinction, Bring Back the King is a witty and wry exploration of what is bound to become one of the hottest topics in conservation – if not in science as a whole – in the years to come.
Introduction: Bringin' It Back
1. King of the Dinosaurs
2. King of the Cavemen
3. King of the Ice Age
4. King of the Birds
5. King of Down Under
6. King of Rock 'n' Roll
7. Blue Christmas
8. I Just Can't Help Believing
9. Now You See It
Key References: A Little Less Conversation a Little More Reading
A stand-up comedian for more than ten years, Helen Pilcher performed at clubs such as the Comedy Store, Jongleurs and at the Edinburgh Festival, before the arrival of children meant she couldn't physically stay awake beyond 9pm. Unusually, Helen is also a professional science writer with a PhD in stem-cell biology, who writes for Nature and New Scientist.
"Pilcher's wit shines through [...] You will be left with a newfound respect for conservationists' hands-on methods of preserving genetic material."
– Sunday Times
"A friendly tour of genetics and cloning, with a bit of history thrown in."
– Brian Switek, Wall Street Journal
"Is likely to make you think and chuckle in equal measure."
– How it Works
"Science at its funniest!"
– Sara Pascoe, writer and comedian
"Leaping off the page are insights into many charismatic and neglected species, and the amazing humans who fight to preserve our future. This revolution will inspire our generation the way that voyages of the Beagle and Apollo have before it."
– George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of PersonalGenomes.org,
"A fluid and witty writer; up there with Bill Bryson."
– Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, science commentator, author and presenter
"With humour and accuracy, Helen Pilcher surveys the wondrous array of wildlife de-extinction and preservation projects that employ current breakthroughs in genomic technology. (Plus Elvis, who was a different kind of wild.)"
– Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline and co-founder of Revive & Restore
"Pilcher [...] asks provocative questions about both the nature of science and what it means to be human."
– Publisher's Weekly