Author Archives: twilightbeasts

The lonely walk to extinction

Our very species is an oxymoron. When Linnaeus added us to the taxonomic ranks of life, he dubbed humans Homo sapiens: literally meaning ‘wise man’. Sometimes I wonder how ‘wise’ we are. We can send people to live in space, … Continue reading

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Discovering the mammoth: A tale of giants, unicorns, ivory, and the birth of a new science

Mammoth. With one word, we can all conjure up a mental picture of a woolly elephant, tusks curving out and in, possibly in a herd, in a habitat cold and snowy with biting wind and unforgiving snow. Isn’t it weird? … Continue reading

Posted in Cave art, Columbian Mammoth, Deinotherium, Extinction, Mastodon, Palaeoloxodon, Scientific Art, Stegodon, Woolly Mammoth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A very brief introduction to mammoths

I was in Los Angeles when I first saw him. I stood in his shadow as he towered above me. I didn’t feel fear. Or panic. I felt awe despite being dwarfed. Light bounces off each bone, highlighting the curves, … Continue reading

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The Stuff Of Night-Mares

Now that my thesis is nearly at the end, I can tell you all this secret. I have been so tiddled off at the archaeological paradigm that all ancient horses were wee tiny ponies. Victorian zoologists like Ridgeway and Ewart … Continue reading

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The Devil on the mountain

When hiking high in the Alps you may encounter the devil himself. Or so claims Swiss naturalist and mountaineer Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1740-1799), when he writes, that one will be only ‘in the company of the devil,…’ if climbing the … Continue reading

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An elephant shakes a tree

Mammoths get all the attention. Like an annoying younger sibling, they hog a limelight that should be more equally shared. Occasionally, the mastodon gets a whisp of publicity, which is notable mostly for its rarity. The vast family of proboscideans … Continue reading

Posted in Columbian Mammoth, Deinotherium, Extinction, Hippopotamus, Mastodon, Palaeoloxodon, Stegodon, Steppe Mammoth, Woolly Mammoth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the shoulders of giants

In 1835 the young, and somewhat cavalier, Charles Darwin landed for the first time on the Galapagos archipelago. As well as sending hundreds of specimens back to England, Darwin enjoyed exploring the islands and watching the local species in their … Continue reading

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