Summary of How to Clone a Mammoth

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

How to Clone a Mammoth book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans


8 Overall

8 Importance

8 Innovation

8 Style


Evolutionary biologist and ecologist Beth Shapiro, PhD, specializes in ancient DNA. She uses fossils, paleogenomics, prehistoric-time-dating tools and environmental data to study how animals adapted to changing conditions. She provides an entertaining walk on the “re-wilding” side of restoration ecology. Her prologue sets out the purpose of her book and notes the waypoints on the journey to species resurrection, notably the process of “de-extinction.” She reports that bringing a dead species back to life is extraordinarily difficult and complex; there’s no easy-to-follow set of instructions. Be prepared to reread some passages unless you majored in the sciences. Shapiro admirably balances descriptions and examples of environmental challenges with scientific explanations of genes, genomics and current genetic science techniques. And if you ever wondered whether dinosaurs could roam the Earth again, as in Jurassic Park, she puts that question to rest.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why “de-extinction” matters for restoring ecosystems,
  • How scientists use the latest genetic research and gene-editing tools to complete genomes and make synthetic new genes, and
  • What solutions scientists must find in order to return keystone animals to their places in the wilderness.

About the Author

Evolutionary molecular biologist and a 2009 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Dr. Beth Shapiro teaches in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a popular presenter and interview guest.



In the Beginning

In 1979, a science fiction writer coined the term “de-extinction” to describe the return to life of a long-gone animal. In 2013, the term became science fact, with a new focus in evolutionary biology: restoration of extinct species. The goal of recreating a mammoth wouldn’t be to bring back the past but to build a better planetary future.

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

The Unnatural World
Know This
Biologist Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty – CRISPR
The Cancer Tree
Herding Hemingway's Cats

Related Channels

Comment on this summary