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Jul 27

Non-Fiction Friday: Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant

If you watched the Discovery Channel special about raising the mammoth back in 2000 then you know a little about the contents of this book. The story is a blend of science, adventure, history and politics. The mammoth is a creature that haunts the modern imagination. Sure, dinosaurs get all the press and their resurrection is the stuff of major motion pictures but what you see on the screen is still wildly speculative. The mammoth lived along side our ancestors. It feared us. It helped shape the environment we came of age in. And, unlike dinosaurs, if we want to see a mammoth again we don’t have to painstakingly reverse engineer the DNA of living descendants to get a peek. We still have flesh and bone mammoths on ice. This book is the story of one such creature.

I watched the television with a certain amount of pride and awe as helicopters air lifted the 23 ton block of mammoth and permafrost from the grave where it had lain undisturbed for 11,000 years. At the time the prospect of cloning such a beast seemed to me the stuff of science fiction. Just as Jack Horner discussed in How to Build a Dinosaur, there are ethical issues that mustn’t be glossed over. This book touches on a few of those. It is a prospect beyond the simple realm of possibility. It may even be inevitable. If you aren’t familiar with the mammoth or the Pleistocene world we shared with them then this book is an excellent introduction.

 

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