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Woolly Mammoths

3 April 2012

Excellent TV programme this evening, 4th April 2012, on BBC 2, 'Woolly Mammoth:Secrets from the Ice' …. although Alice Roberts bows to the BBC doctrine on CAGW and all that, her books are not so strictly observant of the meme. Not only that, unlike a lot of BBC presenters of all things science, Kate Humble or Grif Rhys Jones for example, she is not a pretty face in front of a camera but a real scientist – and she is not averse to reviewing contrary ideas. I was most impressed by her book, The Incredible Journey, which incidentally is going for a song at Amazon at the moment, a mere £6 and well worth the expenditure. Now, several things popped up in this programme that Velikovskians need to take onboard. The first one is that the teeth of mammoth had developed  to a diet of grass and herbs and therefore did not require tree parts in their diet (as in modern African elephants). Two, their kidneys had adaped to long periods without regular water – their environment was not warm and pristine with lots of streams and brooks etc. Thirdly, the baby mammoth so often cited in anti-uniformitarian literature died around 37,000 years ago – which coincides with that C14 plateau between 40 and 30,000 years ago, a warm period preceding the cold period of the Late Glacial Maximum. Fourthly, its hair was red and blondish, the redness having a comparison with red Highland cattle – but this hair colouring was not necessarily universal as it could also have variants from red to blonde to chestnust to black. Fifthly, the elephant family moved from Africa into Asia, together with plenty of other animals such as rhinoceros and lions and hyena, at an indeterminate period in the past, but at some date the climate changed and the elephants adapted to the cold by growing long hair and increasing their body size etc. In all likelihood the climate changed on a number of occasions. I was struck by the possibility that dwarfism could have become a major factor towards the end of the Pleistocene – possibly as a result of adapting to a tundra situation. In that respect it may further explain why those mammoths that did survive the Younger Dryas event did so on an island in a dwarf state. Were mammoths already on the way to downsizing? Various other points were also equally as interesting and thought provoking. Too often the mammoth debate has been conducted on the basis of catastrophe versus uniformitarianism but this TV programme was balanced in the main thrust – it did include the essential BBC meme regarding CAGW but this was brief and it was possible to airbrush it out of the conscious mind. It wasn't obviously targeted towards CAGW. It did put some of Velikovsky's Earth in Upheaval in context, however – and yes, I enjoyed watching the programme.

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