New Scientist Gives Me The Shivers

Picked up the latest copy of New Scientist the other day because they had an article on mammoths.

So what, you say. Mammoths – meh.Peche Merle Mammoth at Don's Maps

Woolly.

Tusked.

Extinct.

I studied prehistory for years. I’ve been in museums where the bones of mammoths are part of the display along with early human tools and artefacts, and there’s just something special about the beasties – maybe because they look like giant Highland Cattle? With tusks instead of horns, obviously.

Woolly mammoths aren’t just part of our popular culture in northern Europe – they’ve been part of our art for millennia.

Cave paintings in France depict woolly mammoths being hunted by us.

We made shelters from their bones.

 

But the part in the article that gave me the shivers was the timeline of their evolution and, more importantly, their extinction. The last woolly mammoths, according to the article, died 4,000 years ago on a remote island in the Arctic.

Only 4,000 years ago.

This means that the last mammoths were still alive when we built Stonehenge.

That’s incredible.

(and in case you’re wondering what’s the connection with my writing, umm, there’s a mention of mammoths in my next novel…)

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments Off on New Scientist Gives Me The Shivers  
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