The Fate of the Mammoth: Fossils, Myth, and History
From cave paintings to the latest Siberian finds, woolly mammoths have fascinated people across Europe, Asia, and North America for centuries. Remains of these enormous prehistoric animals were among the first fossils to be recognized as such, and they have played a crucial role in the birth and development of paleontology. In this lively, wide-ranging look at the fate of the mammoth, Claudine Cohen reanimates this large mammal with heavy curved tusks and shaggy brown hair through its history in science, myth, and popular culture.
Cohen uses the mammoth and the theories that naturalists constructed around it to illuminate wider issues in the history of science, showing how changing views about a single object reveal the development of scientific methods, practices, and ideas. How are fossils discovered, reconstructed, displayed, and interpreted? What stories are told about them, by whom, and how do these stories reflect the cultures and societies in which they are told?
To find out, Cohen takes us on a grand tour of the study of mammoth remains, from England, Germany, and France to Russia and America, and from the depths of Africa to the frozen frontiers of Alaska and Siberia, where intact mammoth corpses have been discovered in the permafrost. Along the way, she shows how paleontologists draw on myth and history, as well as on scientific evidence, to explore the deep history of the earth and of life. Cohen takes her history from the sixteenth century right up to the present, when researchers are using molecular biology to retrieve mammoth DNA, calling up dreams of cloning the mammoth and one day seeing herds of woolly mammoths roaming the frozen steppes.
The Mammoth Appears
Saint Augustine and the Giants
The Mammoth and the Revolutions
The Mammoth in Victorian Times
Of Mammoths and Men
The Mammoth in the Trees
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Africa Alaska American anatomy ancient animal appeared Berezovka biblical Blumenbach Boucher de Perthes Buffon catastrophes caves cladistic classification climate collected Darwin Deluge diluvial dinosaurs Discours discovered discovery earth eighteenth century Elephantidae Elephas primigenius epoch Europe evolution evolutionary excavation existence expedition explain extinct Falconer fauna Flood forms fossil fossil elephants fossil ivory fossil objects France frozen Gaudry geological Georges Cuvier giants Habicot history of paleontology horns human hypothesis Ibid layers Leibniz Lena River linked living world London mammals mammoth bones Mammuthus man’s mastodons molar Museum myth narrative Natural History natural selection naturalists Naturelle organisms origin Origin of Species Owen Paleolithic Paris Petersburg phylogenetic Pleistocene prehistoric Proboscidea Protogaea Quaternary reconstruct representation Riolan River Rudwick Russian scenarios Scheuchzer scientific Siberia skeleton skull species Stephen Jay Gould stones succession Tatischev teeth theory tion tooth trans transformation tree tusks unicorn vertebrate William Buckland woolly wrote