show menu

Criteria are emerging for determining which animal species are possible candidates for de-extinction, genetic rescue, or genetic assistance. The animals pictured below may meet some or all of these criteria.

De-extinction is an emerging discipline focusing developing technologies in medicine and agriculture towards conservation of endangered and even extinct species. Any extinct animal is a potential candidate for de-extinction that could be selected by a scientific research team for a future project.

In the left column below is a selection of a few of the extinct species from the past 10,000 years that could be considered for a de-extinction project. Some species are great candidates and some are poor candidates for various reasons — some do not qualify for the technical process of de-extinction. To be a plausible de-extinction candidate a species has to meet the de-extinction criteria.

We invite you to enter your own answers to these questions for many of the De-extinction candidate species (below, left) through our own criteria checklist poll and email us your results.

Each image is a link to the candidate’s Wikipedia page or information about the organization pursuing the candidate’s de-extinction.

Candidate Species for



Cuban red macaw


Ivory billed woodpecker


Imperial woodpecker


Heath hens

Labrador duck

Labrador duck





Great Auk


New Zealand giant moa


Madagascar elephant bird



Huia (New Zealand)


O’o (Hawaii)



Woolly mammoth


Woolly rhinoceros

Irish elk

Irish elk



Gastric-brooding Frog



Easter Island palm



Xerces blue butterfly



Quagga (plains zebra)





Pyrenean ibex (bucardo)


Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger)



Steller’s sea cow


Caribbean monk seal

Candidate Species for Genetic Assistance:



Hawaiian Crow


Attwater’s Prairie Chicken


Hawaiian honeycreeper


Crested Ibis


New Zealand Kakapo



Black-footed ferret





Golden Lion Tamarin

Golden Lion Tamarin





Northern White Rhino





Javan rhinoceros


Sumatran rhinoceros


Yangtze giant softshell turtle


Arabian Oryx

Arabian Oryx





Tasmanian devil

  • Samuel Joo

    The Western Black Rhinoceros was sadly went extinct in 2011. Can you cloned it with the western black rhino.

    • Jordan Dood

      Probably but you would need more rhinos first.

  • Mark Fountain

    The Tasmanian Devil is not extinct (yet!), the Tasmanian Tiger is.

    • RDLaw3

      I was thrown by this too until I realized the right side of the page contains candidates for genetic assistance, while the left side has candidates for de-extinction. A vertical separator would be helpful.

      My vote is for the dodo and wolly mammoth. Too cool!

    • James Lee

      I’m relatively optimistic about the survival of the Tasmanian devil (or perhaps more appropriately the marsupial wolverine), and it is listed as a candidate for genetic assistance to ensure its genetic integrity.

  • Blake Hooton

    There Is A Steppe Bison Remains That Will Be Displayed At University of Alaska Museum. Can You Clone It From The American Bison Or European Bison Please? I Would Love To See A Living Breathing Steppe Bison. 🙂

    • Zephyr Converse

      I agree with Kanaya Maryam.

  • James Lee

    The thylacine isn’t European, it’s Australian.

  • Ciarán Kelly

    I think the Irish elk should be near the top of the list.

  • Shane Perera

    I’m interested about your project and i think is a beautiful idea to bring back some extinct animals.
    But i want to know: how long will it take? i mean, how many years it will take to bring back these animals?
    If is possible obviously.

  • Guest

    The Great Auk was a vital role of it’s ecosystem and must be considered.

  • Austin Gonzalez

    The Great Auk definitely earned it’ spot on this list; it was an important part of it’s ecosystem,as were all these animals.

  • Kent La Rue

    I have a special fondness for the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) perhaps because of the 1930’s footage of the last living one and because it’s the first one I learned about as a young kid reading National Geographic. I believe that the de-extinction project is among the best and noblest endeavors that we could pursue because we, for the most part, have been responsible for the demise of these animals. What better way possible to make amends to their species in particular and the the planet in genera. I wish all of these devoted people the very best of success, I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m praying too.

    • bobbie

      My problem with that is that there are plenty of extant species in dire need of assistance. Don’t try to fix the mistakes of the past, try to avoid making them in the future, rather than letting animals and plants die off every day while we try to bring back the Thylacine. I think a lot of it is guilt – we want a do-over. The last Thylacine died in a horrific zoo – of exposure brought on by neglect – with people constantly frightening it on purpose so it would yawn at them! Well, maybe we want to prove that we’ve moved on from that, and that we can take care of it properly, which is great except that there are still plenty of species in zoos that we are not managing to care properly for because we don’t fully understand their needs yet. Why would we have better luck with an animal we have no experience of caring for, especially one with no living relatives?
      Why don’t we start with the animals trapped in shrinking habitats or deplorable zoos right this second?

      I’m not attacking you by the way, in case it comes across that way, I’m just replying as a comment because you were talking about the Thylacine. I love it too, always have, and because I do I don’t want to see it suffer even more at our hands.

      • Kent La Rue


        I don’t feel attacked and I understand your line of reasoning 100%.
        However, I’ve been a problem solver (observant and active) all of my life and I have come to understand that there is rarely any one thing that will solve a complex problem. Most require 6 or 8 approaches. So I would say “do it all”..preserve what’s left in every way conceivable and, at the same time, invest in and develop resources, for resuscitation of recently extinct species.

        It doesn’t necessarily follow that money spent or mis-spent of DNA retrieval would otherwise to go to habitat preservation. They are separate things driven by separate individuals and institutions.

        Furthermore, I firmly believe that the environmental commotion and excitement generated by some success in the DNA arena would absolutely galvanize the scientific world (and people in general) in much the way the moon landing did, bringing with it a host of collateral and tangential scientific information and expertise that would benefit the environmental movement at large.

        Try to imagine – I don’t know- Jack Hannah with the resuscitated passenger pigeon or thylacine on late night television..all the interest, and $$$$$ that it could generate to continue the efforts.

        Zoos and their related preservation efforts would also benefit greatly from reintroduced species..

  • Miriam

    Yes, it is. And cloning back woolly mammoths won’t be that hard at all, what with all those baby mammoth specimens with the preserved DNA.

    • Miriam

      Oops, I’m talking about James Lee’s post about the thylacine being australian.

  • Miriam

    I just think it’ll be weird to see completely hairy rhinos roaming around everywhere. And it’ll be strange to see more New Zealand kakapos, cuz they’re R A R E

  • Miriam

    I personally think it’s odd for America to boast its own parrot species (And if you want to ask, OF COURSE I’m talking about the Carolina parakeet). But who am I to complain? It was the US’ only native parrot species, and it looks pretty enough.

  • disqus_yc4r8xQeiD

    I would, very much, like the Irish Elk to be added to the revival criteria checklist. Based on current information alone, I consider it a more then viable option for de-extinction.

  • Dylan Hooton

    I wish that people founded DNA of the largest ever marsupial, diprotodon. I really loved this animal because it was bigger than a kangaroo of modern Australia and they played an ecological role on controlling the population of plants they ate. But since their extinction, plants they fed on are spreading out of control. Please bring back diprotodon if you can find diprotodon DNA.

  • Adel Zaidi

    Please consider reviving the Baiji, and also genetically assist the polar bear and the giant panda.

    • BigDeepCheatsy

      What about coelacanths?

    • ProstheticHead

      Unfortunately there is no habitat for the Baiji – the distruction of it’s habitat in the Yangtze river is why it recently went extinct and there is no sign of the river being substantially improved since.

  • Tipsy

    Great list, obviously the Thylacine is misplaced though.

  • Rhian Hunt

    This is a superb idea, but the Shasta Ground Sloth should be on this list. The Joshua tree is going extinct because of its demise, and the whole Mojave Desert ecosystem is going with them. The Shasta Ground Sloth would preserve this ecosystem. Additionally, it would be reintroduced to huge tracts of marginal land where it would have little competition with humans (and might even receive a commercial, ranching boost, as per ostrich farms).

    • Family Hooton

      I would like ground sloths alive today, but the problem is, the closest living relative to ground sloths are today’s tree sloths, which are too small to be used as surrogate mothers, so because of this, I think that all of the Joshua trees will die out or go extinct in the future, so cloning ground sloths will be 100% unlikely and will never happen.

      • Jordan Dood

        You are correct about the size issue, but It could be overcome, especially if biological technology keeps progressing at the rate it is. The whole concept of de-extinction was once thought impossible.

  • Vimut Rochanayon

    Saber tooth tiger?

  • sadsack lowbie

    Please bring back Bigfoot, also known as Yeti. THank you.

    • Family Hooton

      They don’t exist, silly.

  • Family Hooton

    I really want toxodons back from extinction (if people found their DNA). It is confirmed that toxodons were related to today’s horses, but looked more rhino-like (without horns). Plants that toxodons ate are going extinct because of the toxodon’s demise. I suggest that people should find its DNA and bring the toxodon back.

  • Nick Schofield

    What about the Rodrigues solitaire or perhaps the baiji, both two animals that I believe should be brought back

  • Jenna Costa Deedy

    Can the Yangtze River Dolphin and the Caspian Tiger count?

    • ProstheticHead

      Not sure about the tiger, but the dolphin went extinct due to destruction of its habitat (Yangtze river) and it doesn’t look like the river will be kept clean and reduce powered boat use any time soon unfortunately.

  • Jenna Costa Deedy

    And please also assist in helping elephants and rhinos in Africa.

  • Jenna Costa Deedy

    And don’t forget the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins too.

  • Jordan Dood

    I think the Asiatic lion, Asiatic cheetah, and the Californian condor deserve to be on the list for genetic rescue. There are also a number of ice age ungulates that were likely equally important to the Siberian/North American ecosystem of the ice age; they should be included.

  • frank

    Bring beck the mihirungs! Evidence suggests that the mihirungs (Dromornithidae) went extinct around 20000-10000 years ago in Australia due to humans hunting them. Also, if you are going to bring back the Moa, then bring back its predator, the Haast’s Eagle.

  • Chris Rhodes

    Bring back the Glyptodon and the pelagornis.

  • BigDeepCheatsy

    Golden Toads and Shasta Ground Sloths should be on the list.

    Remove the woolly rhino.

    For genetic assistance, Coelacanths, tuataras, and Cuban Crocodiles!

  • ProstheticHead

    What about the Haast’s eagle? It’s hypothesised to have been predatory on the Moa and went extinct around the same time (1400s). There is at least some genetic material available, as there was a study using DNA to examine its evolutionary history:

  • Ian Christopher Bolaños

    I think corals can be a candidate for genetic assistance now. If the warming and ph drop of our oceans are going to continue, they may go extinct in the wild. Small populations may carry on in marine tanks though, where ph levels. temperature, and all other water values are maintained at their ideal.

  • Dylan Hooton

    Please bring back the Gastornis and Chalicotheres

  • Christopher Adshead

    What a great idea. I would lie to add Mastodon and Smilodon to this list too. I think for the time being though we should move ecological proxy animals from African and Asia such as the Asian and African elephants and African lion. This would not only give some great megafauna, it will also give these endangered animals a refuge from extinction. I can’t believe this idea hasn’t already happened.

  • BigDeepCheatsy

    What about also the Hawaiian Moa-nalo? Pacific Black Duck can be used as DNA filler.

  • BigDeepCheatsy

    What about Meiolania?

  • Kaleikaumaka Carrillo

    I’m from Hawai’i and I KNOW that we have specimens of many Hawaiian birds that could possibly be used as a candidate. Many Hawaiian birds didn’t stand a chance up against malaria that spread fast through Hawaii from Mainland birds.

  • Kaleikaumaka Carrillo

    I also think the Javan Rhino and other Rhino species should be helped because even the most common of Rhinos are still rare/endangered, also I think Elephants should be added to this list

  • Emma Fahey

    I think the Tuatara should be added to the genetic assistance list, that list should be the focus, stopping more extinction rather than bringing back what is already gone.