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mammoths again...



Ummmm... not to distract from John Alroy's meteoric arrival (relax
everyone, that's just a joke!), but I've got to beat the dead mammoths
two more times to see if I can get them to go any further.

First off, I dug up the _Natural History_ article like I promised.  My
memory was *really* off on this because it doesn't have much of direct
relevance to the questions being thrown about here.  Also it was
published a year later than I thought; the complete reference is:

Guthrie, R.D. and Guthrie, M.L.,  "On the Mammoth's Dusty Trail",
_Natural History_, July, 1990, pp. 34-41.

Although they don't say it outright, it seems that the Guthrie's
believe that most mammoth (and other large carcasses) that have been
preserved since the Pleistocene were preserved because they were
quickly buried by wind-blown silt.  For example:

     Deposits of wind-blown silt, many feet deep, are found throughout
     the region [of the Mammoth Steppe -- MR].  ... In places where
     the silt washed downslope, it buried vegetation, dung piles,
     bones, and occasionally, a fresh carcass.  As this reworked silt
     accumulated, the zone of annual thaw rose as well, leaving plant
     and animal remains far underground in the patient hands of frost.
     In such frozen silts the fossil archives of the Mammoth Steppe
     have been exquisitely preserved.  Meat tens of thousands of years
     old is still red; the bone marrow still white.
        More than two dozen frozen partial mummies of Mammoth Steppe
     mammals have been found in Siberia and Alaska.

The article doesn't make any claims about the palatability of the
meat, but the fact that they consistently use the word "mummy"
indicates that the specimens have been largely dehydrated.  Perhaps
with a little salt it could be considered jerky (sorry).

Partially to dispute the claims (made in this forum) that the animals
had to have fallen down a crevice so that they could be frozen
quickly, I'll include now a brief description of "Blue Babe".  Babe
was an ox that died 36,000 years ago, but wasn't discovered until
1979.  He's named after Paul Bunyan's legendary companion because he's
blue due to the formation of vivianite in his tissues.  Bite and
scratch marks on the hide indicate that Babe was dispatched by a group
of lions.  One of the lions chipped a tooth in Babe--a fact which the
author's attribute to the freezing of the carcass.  The details given
in the article are sketchy, so somebody really ought to track down the
book I referred to previously.  However, they seem to believe that
Babe was killed in the winter and initially buried during the early
spring.  Babe also had red meat even after all this time (again no
discussion here of its palatability).

Ok, now for the last piece of mammoth beating.  I've received more
mail from Jon Hendrix about the million dollar mammoth.  I personally
don't know anyone who could do what he suggests, but maybe one of you
out there is a member of United We Stand America and can forward this
to H. Ross Perot...  Not being terribly adept in matters financial,
I'm going to pass on ver batim the scheme Mr. Hendrix is proposing.
But first of all, it appears that some of the information I was given
yesterday was outdated.  The owner of the fossils has excavated the
mammothS.  There are two of them, one 85% complete and the other 35%.
The two animals apparently died in combat.  Now here is the scheme:

     They might think about taking $1Million and purchasing a Series
     EE U. S. Savings Bond for ten years at a 50% discount. They would
     keep this bond as security for their $1Million, perhaps placing
     it into a living trust for their children or grandchildren.
          
     They would then purchase the fossil with the remainder and donate
     it to their favorite University or museum, as a benefactor and
     take a tax credit. The interest on the bond may be allowed to
     compound or they may receive it personally as a tax exempt ROI.
     
     In ten years their children or grandchildren have their trust
     fund, the university or museum has one great big Mastodon Fossil
     exhibit and Uncle Sam has had $1Million worth of credit to play
     with....

Ok, the mammoth subject is now dead, so far as I can tell.  Dig in,
everybody (sorry again).

-- 
Mickey Rowe     (rowe@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu)