Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mammoths and their problems or A setback of the heart is one floor above you

Every so often the newspapers run a story about a fossilized mammoth from the dawn of time that has been discovered by a man walking their dog along the beach in some place a thousand miles from anywhere. [1] As the teams of paleontologists and scientists fight for who gets the honor of keeping the body the only question that the media seems to ask is
“Would it be possible to get DNA from the corpsicle and grow an actual mammoth?”  
The stock answer that the scientists give out is usually enough for a 3 column filler and boils down to
“Yes, it's possible but we're not going to do it since that isn't what the focus of our study is about. Also its a stupid idea brought about by watching too many monster movies” [2]  

  • It won't be a genuine mammoth:
    The current leading theory on how to bring back the mammoth is to combine the DNA of a mammoth with that of an elephant, standing back and waiting for the resulting bastard child of mad science to be born.  If we can put aside the problem of obtaining the female elephant itself and assume that it has been stolen from a traveling circus in a plan that would rival Batman villains in its sheer complexity.  The fact that any offspiring it has is not going to be a real mammoth, at best it will be a crossbreed of elephant and mammoth and at worst its going to be a misshapen freak that should never have been allowed to step foot in this world [3]
  • The world has moved on:
    The modern world is a completely different place from the world in which the mammoth ruled. The global temperature is considerably higher, our wide open spaces are considerably less and even our air is noticeably thinner.  In order for the mammoth to survive in our world there would need to be  several changes made on the genetic level which would only serve to keep it firmly in the “not a genuine mamoth” problem.
  • Nothing more to learn:
    Although it rubs against the fabric of the human condition which states that there is always something to learn, on the subject of mammoths I suggest that there is nothing of significance to be learnt by bringing a mammoth back from extinction.  
    The resurrected mammoth isn't going to be able to tell us about life back then because it was born in a lab and this is the only world that it knows.  If it is released into the wild so that scientists can track its movements it will be reacting to stimulus from the modern world rather than following the ones that would have confronted it during the ice age.
But perhaps it happens:
Perhaps a particular group of scientists have disregarded the argument of “Its a stupid idea” and with the type of luck that only occurs after you've taken a dozen leprechauns, minced them up finely, put it all in the blender and drank it down with a pint of four leaf clover [4] they have managed to find a viable sample of Mammoth DNA and also several early editions of Massive Mammoth Mammaries Monthly which would suggest that this either a juvenile or an older but solitary adult.

Perhaps, on a dark and stormy night, the elephant is impregnated with the mammoth DNA while the scientists army of henchmen keep the heroes, whether the costumed variety or a cop and reporter who have discovered what is going on and, despite their differences, have teamed up out of necessity.  Time passes, the would be heroes are defeated and the bastard offspring of science and prehistory is brought into world.  His woolly coat grows in quickly and he is speaking in complete sentences within three monthes because, lets face it, no scientist who is prepared to undergo such an insane scheme is going to miss the chance to play with million year old building blocks.
Eventually the Mammoth [5] is presented to the world and everyone goes wild. The scientists is validated and honored by his peers [6],  reviled by the church who see only that he has tampered with the divine plan and held in awe by the common man who pay quite a lot to see the talking mammoth.

For a while.

As an organism humanity is one that lives very much in the now and as fascinating as a talking mammoth is eventually people are going to stop coming and its upkeep is going to start eating into the scientists finances. Eventually the money dries up, the world famous talking mammoth is sold to a circus and the mad scientist gets to work on his next project which will involve replacing the leaders of the world with monkeys and seeing who notices the difference.


Obviously the situation at the labs is dire. The arguments between the scientist and the Mammoth have gotten worse and although none of the minions are brave enough to say anything everyone knows that it is only a matter of time. Sure enough the Mammoth, loath to continue working as a performing monkey [7] leaves the laboratory intent on making his own way in the world.

Realistically [8] He now has three career choices open to him

  • Impersonation:
     If the mammoth decides to stick it out amongst the press of humanity he could get a job doing impressions of Mr. Snuffleupagus of Sesame Street fame.  Although he would start out solely as children's entertainment it wouldn't be long before he gained a degree a correspondence course and began to tackle corporate presentations. His furry shape would be dismissed as “just a costume” and the fact that nobody saw him out of it would
     easily be explained away as “dedication to the craft”[9]
  • Adaption:
     If the mammoth decides that he has had enough of the fickle nature of humanity then he could retire to the steamy jungles of the Congo, working under the reasoning that it is the last place that anyone would look for a woolly mammoth,  His thick coat will give him a natural advantage when he lives out his life in disguise as an orangutan [10]
    At first swinging through the trees might present the mammoth with a problem but it is a skill that can be learned in time and any poachers that enter the jungle are going to leave it swearing blind that the biggest
     orangutan in the world took away their guns and gave them a long lecture about evils of hunting protected species [11].
  • Enforcement:
    Perhaps the mammoth finds his purpose in life in the field of law enforcement, he would start off at the bottom, assuming the identity of a very shaggy police dog with his secret known to only a select few.
    Eventually his secret would leek out but the police, being very closemouthed about such things would not talk about it
     As he continues to be awarded for his fine work in the community the suggestion is made that if the mammoth were to lay very still then he could go undercover as very thick shag carpeting right in the offices of Mr Big.
     This would give the police an unbeatable edge in the fight against crime
  1. If the iceberg melts and the mammoth is then seen rampaging across the countryside only to be brought down by a ragtag team of experts and their dog then you can relax, its only a movie.  If it is destroying Tokyo then the team of experts and their dog will be replaced by Godzilla.
  2. The rest of the statement is generally ignored, once the scientist has said “Yes it is” then the papers will give out a headline of “MAMMOTH TO BE RESURRECTED SAYS TOP SCIENTIST
  3. While the thefts of the elephant would make headlines in both universes the biggest difference is that in the Batman universe he would put the clues together and reveal the plan to the world while fighting off several hybrid mammoth henchmen.  Meanwhile in “the real world” someone running round in a Batman suit ranting about scientists attempting to bring mammoths back to life would be quickly detained and placed in a padded cell with a straitjacket of their very own.
  4. For those that are willing to search, the exact recipe is freely available on the Internet.
  5. For want of a better word.
  6. Who called him mad.  Mad!
  7. His words.
  8. Heh.
  9. Humans are masters of explaining away things that make no sense.  For an example consider Democracy (Boom Boom)
  10. Natural advantage compared to the number of ordinary gray elephants that are attempting to escape hunters, ex wives and the IRS.
  11. He was probably wearing a cape and cowl as well.
  12. Reasoning that he might be a mammoth but he's also a damn fine cop.
  13. Because nobody wants to be the one that tells Mr Big that “the carpet is listening to them” the day after all his drug plants got raided.

1 comment:

  1. LoL..this is downright hilarious. But you make good points. It wouldn't be a real mammoth anyway, not full-blood, and it really couldn't tell us much about "back in the day" because it was never there.