With all the science of genetics, and genetic engineering, would reviving an extinct species possible? Yes, akin the story of "Jurassic Park".
Would it be possible now, with the science we have today?

  • 1
    It is certainly possible to revive bacterial species. Though it has not been done. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – picakhu
    Jun 5, 2011 at 14:00
  • Jurassic Park specifically isn't possible via the cloning of preserved DNA because the half life of DNA is 521 years (scientificamerican.com/…).
    – Publius
    Mar 20, 2013 at 7:45
  • @Avi, Well, does half-life mean only half of the preserved DNA will survive of after 521 years? If yes, then, if there is sufficiently large quantity of DNA...
    – CMR
    Sep 25, 2013 at 20:14
  • 1
    Yes, that's what it means, but that also means that since the 65 million years since dinosaurs have gone extinct, then statistically it is incredibly unlikely that even a single base pair would remain.
    – Publius
    Sep 25, 2013 at 20:18
  • @Avi: From a similar article, "But he [Mike Bunce] cautioned that more research is needed to examine the other variables in the breakdown of DNA. 'Other factors that impact on DNA preservation include storage time following excavation, soil chemistry and even the time of year when the animal died,' [Mike] Bunce said in a statement. 'We hope to refine predictions of DNA survival by more accurately mapping how DNA fragments decay across the globe.'"
    – CMR
    Oct 7, 2013 at 3:51

3 Answers 3


This is a slightly tricky question - in that it's certainly plausable that some species could be resurrected, but probably not others (at least, not with technology as it stands).

The easiest way - cloning from preserved tissue/cells.

For recently extinct species that have close living relatives, cloning is one way get them back. You could take the nucleus from a normal 'body' cell in the preserved tissue and implant it in the egg or a modern relative of the original species (so called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer). Researchers tried this with a sub-species of goat that went extinct at the turn of the century, but failed. It's likely that part of the problem here, is that embryonic development of mammals depends greatly on cues from the mother - and the domestic goat used in these attempts may have been a poor surrogate. I gather the mammoth example cited in another answer is attempting to take the same route

A harder way - creating a synthetic genome

For most species that people would want to resurrect, well preserved cells or tissue just aren't avaliable. In these cases it might be possible to use ancient DNA techniques get genomic sequences (especially creatures that die in permafrost like mammoths!). The problem here is going from DNA sequences as letters on a computer to a physical genome. It's possible to make a synthetic bacterial genome, but even that had to be inserted into an existing cell. Inserting a eukarotic genome into the nucleus of egg cell would be much harder, because eukaryote genomes are (mainly) big, and packaging them into chromosomes is very complex (try to ignore the 90s webdesign there...).

Once you'd done that you still have the problem of finding a surrogate the develop the eggs, or a machine to do the job. Not easy.

It's possible we will eventually be able to do all this. But it's a long from the synthetic bacterial genome to there.


If you count viruses, then yes, it has been done: Reconstruction of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic virus

  • Wow, I just went to a talk at UW Oshkosh given by one of the lead researchers on this project. It was kind of scary, because they showed (without actually creating it) that it's very likely that H1N1 (the highly contagious but not-very-lethal one) and the H5N1 (the highly deadly but not contagious) viruses will recombinate to create a highly-deadly, highly contagious virus o_O Jun 5, 2011 at 16:13
  • +1, interesting; I guess the concept of life encompasses everything.
    – CMR
    Jun 5, 2011 at 20:55
  • 2
    Viri are not alive though. So “revive” is not really applicable here. Jun 6, 2011 at 9:34
  • 2
    @Konrad Rudolph: You're right, viruses are not actually "alive" on their own. But together with a host cell, they display all the (in this case unfortunate) characteristics of life. Jun 6, 2011 at 11:07
  • 1
    Biology novice here, asking a very pedantic question: Do virus strains count as "species?"
    – Flimzy
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:29

All the information that you need to revive an extinct specifies should be stored in the DNA. With present technology that means that you can theoretically revive species that died in the last ~100 000 years. There are currently efforts underway to revive mammoths.

  • maybe they should make a male and female, and we could restart the whole mammoth population...
    – picakhu
    Jun 5, 2011 at 15:00
  • 2
    You need some genetic diversity. A male and a female are certainly not enough.
    – Alexandru
    Jun 5, 2011 at 15:32
  • @picakhu: Try 500­ males and 500 females, then maybe you'll have a chance.
    – Jon Purdy
    Jun 5, 2011 at 20:17
  • You need more than DNA... what are you going to put the DNA into?
    – david w
    Jun 7, 2011 at 2:04
  • You need more than DNA... see epigenetics.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 22, 2012 at 14:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .