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The Fate of the Mammoth: Fossils, Myth and History Hardcover – 16 Apr 2002
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"Some groping attempts to tell the history of paleontology through a mammoth's eyes have been made before, but only as a lick and promise, and largely by amateur enthusiasts with (perhaps) adequate knowledge of fossils, but little understanding of the subtleties or larger contexts in the history of science. But, in this truly pathbreaking book, the mammoth has finally met its match in Claudine Cohen." - from the Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould
From the Inside Flap
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.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Amazon.com: 2 reviews
Ernest M Martin 111
26 December 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
Lots of positive information, another book in my Mammoth library
Dr. Susan G. Van Pelt
History of Science more than Mammoths
6 November 2004 - Published on Amazon.com
11 people found this helpful.
This book was not really what I had in mind, but I ended up enjoying it anyway. I was looking to find out more about mammoths, but the book only touched on the actual natural history of mammoths in a limited way. There were so many other revelations, though: people finding mammoth bones at one time thought they were "sports of nature", spontaneously produced by the generative capacities of the earth and not representing any living creature. Mammoth bones are the origin of many giant myths. In Siberia, mammoth bones would seem to burst up from the ground with the thaw, leading to a belief that they were from a burrowing creature that would die on exposure to light. The book was dense and slow reading, but I've found myself relating things I learned in this book to many people since finishing it. I guess it goes to show you sometimes find good things by accident...