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Reviving Species

Reviving Species

Use this infographic to explore one theory for how to resurrect an extinct species.


5 - 8


Biology, Genetics


Recipe for Resurrection

Can the red-breasted American passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), hunted to extinction a century ago, be revived from museum specimens? Geneticist George Church of Harvard University and his colleagues say yes — by transferring key genes into a liv

Infographic by Jason Treat, NGM Staff. Art by Raul Martin.

Idea for Use in Classroom

Introduce the infographic by having students read the title and overview. Ask: What does species revival mean, in relation to this infographic? Next, have students read through each step in the process. Using the infographic, work as a class to create a Tweet describing each step in layman’s terms. Utilize the infographic and Tweets to deduce the key requirements for bringing back a species (a close living relative and DNA from the extinct species).

Nominees for Resurrection

Organize students into small research teams. Each team should select and research a different extinct animal to nominate for resurrection. Nominees should have a living relative and available DNA.

Each group should provide the following information for their nominee:

  1. Name of the species to go through resurrection
  2. Cause of extinction
  3. Name of the living, related species
  4. Characteristics that distinguish the extinct organism from the living relative
  5. Challenges that might be faced in bringing back the extinct species

Have students share their nominees with the class.

Ethical Considerations

Before voting, debate the merits of species resurrection. Students should evaluate the positive and negative consequences of species resurrection on the environment and other species, and consider what unintended consequences may result. Students may also consider the economic and ethical implications of species revival. To extend the debate, prompt students to consider how the cause of extinction influences their position (e.g., extinction caused by a natural disaster versus anthropogenic climate change). Finally, have students vote on which species to bring back, if any.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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