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Do we really want mammoths back?

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webmaster | 04/15/13

Japanese scientists are hoping to bring back the woolly mammoth. It is part of their plan to create something like “Jurassic Park.” This new attraction would not feature dinosaurs, as roamed Jurassic Park, thank goodness, but would feature the woolly mammoth and other Ice Age species.

Nor would it feature Columbian mammoths, which once trod the hills east of Madera. In this column a few weeks ago, I happened to call our mammoths “woolly mammoths,” and I got a good tongue lashing from locals who know better.

If you want to see a reproduction of a skeleton of a Columbian mammoth, go to the Fossil Discovery Center (get off State Route 99 on Avenue 21 1/2, turn west, and you will be there). When you stand there, looking up at the skeleton, you will be glad those critters are no longer in residence hereabouts. The skeleton is of an animal bigger than the biggest modern elephants, with huge tusks.

“The Columbian mammoth weighed up to nine tons,” according to the Elephant Encyclopedia, “and its enormous tusks were up to 16 feet long. The heaviest tusks ever known belonged to the Columbian Mammoth, these weighed 498 pounds.”

You can imagine what it would be like if one of those decided to come through your backyard and eat your bushes.

The woolly mammoths weren’t as big as Columbians, closer to elephant size, but they were big enough.

The impetus for cloning one of those creatures is that an actual woolly mammoth baby, found frozen by explorers, is on display in Japan, and those who look at it think it is very cute, even though it is lying on its side and appears dead.

The scientists think they could pinch a few fragments from the little creature, clone it and raise it.

The animal no doubt would be declared an endangered species, and we would be forced to keep it going, setting aside huge regions of the planet for it and its descendants to live and prosper.

Personally, I think we should let well enough alone.


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