Questions for “Will the woolly mammoth return?”

woolly mammoth illustration

The woolly mammoth went extinct thousands of years ago. But it might not stay extinct. Genetic engineering may be able to bring back a very similar animal. And there’s already a home waiting for it in Siberia.

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To accompany “Will the woolly mammoth return?


Before Reading:

1. What does it mean for an animal to go extinct? What are some examples of extinct animals?

2. Do you know any fictional stories (i.e., books or movies) that portray scientists bringing back extinct animals? Do those stories present de-extinction as a good or bad idea?

During Reading:

1.  What is the goal of the Woolly Mammoth Revival project?

2.  What types of animals could be brought back with de-extinction technology? What types of animals could not be brought back?

3.  What is DNA sequencing? How could it help scientists bring back extinct creatures?

4.  How close are scientists to creating new woolly mammoths? What obstacles stand in the way?

5.  What is Pleistocene Park? What are the Zimov family’s goals for the park?

6.  What is permafrost? What are the potential consequences of this permafrost melting? How could restoring grasslands to Siberia help prevent permafrost melt?

7.  How could introducing large animals like mammoths to Pleistocene Park encourage grass to grow?

8.  Why do researchers like Hysolli and Novak think de-extinction is a good idea?

9.  What are potential negative consequences of bringing back extinct species?

After Reading:

1.  Do you think it’s a good idea to use de-extinction technology to bring back long-gone species? Is it a good idea for all extinct animals, or only certain types? Why or why not? Use ideas from the story to support your argument.

2.  Partner up with someone who has a different opinion on whether de-extinction is a good idea, and explain your reasoning to each other. Did your argument sway them at all? Did their argument sway you?

3.  Pick an extinct animal that you’d like to bring back. Now list all the things that animal would need to survive — or, better yet, thrive — in the modern world. Finally, where would you set it loose?