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Alexander Svalov, an official of the Ice Age Museum, inspects a mammoth bone (Photo: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)
Would you pay $100 to see a woolly mammoth munching on grass?

How about Neanderthals building a fire, or a sabre-toothed tiger streaking across the prairie?

The genetic blueprints for such extinct creatures and humans are emerging from labs around the world. U.S. researchers recently unveiled the mammoth genome and a German team is putting the finishing touches on the genome of our Neanderthal cousins, which is expected early in 2009. Scientists, who once dismissed reviving extinct creatures as little more than science fiction, now find themselves with the tools that might make it possible.

The thought of woolly mammoths, extinct for thousands of years, once again thundering across the tundra certainly fires up the imagination, says evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar of McMaster University in Hamilton, who finds his public audiences are fascinated with the idea of bringing the shaggy beast back from the dead.

The flightless dodo bird and other animals driven to extinction in the last few hundred years also are popular picks for resurrection. Less so, he says, for the giant short-faced bear, a ferocious "hyper carnivore"...