Recently two developments have had a major impact on the field of ancient DNA (aDNA). First, new advances in DNA sequencing, in combination with improved capture/enrichment methods, have resulted in the recovery of orders of magnitude more DNA sequence data from ancient animals. Second, there has been an increase in the range of tissue types employed in aDNA. Hair in particular has proven to be very successful as a source of DNA because of its low levels of contamination and high level of ancient endogenous DNA. These developments have resulted in significant advances in our understanding of recently extinct animals: namely their evolutionary relationships, physiology, and even behaviour. Hair has been used to recover the first complete ancient nuclear genome, that of the extinct woolly mammoth, which then facilitated the expression and functional analysis of haemoglobins. Finally, we speculate on the consequences of these developments for the possibility of recreating extinct animals.