I’ve got a guest post at Scientific American on woolly mammoth cloning.

Inspired by the recent National Geographic-sponsored TEDxDeExtinction talk series last Friday, I’ve got a guest post at the Scientific American Guest Blog on cloning woolly mammoths:

“As an ecologist of ice age giants, I long ago came to terms with the fact that I will never look my study organisms in the eye. I will never observe black-bear-sized beavers through binoculars in their natural habitats, build experimental exclosures to test the effects of mastodons on plants, or even observe a giant ground sloth in a zoo.”

You can read more here.

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3 responses to “I’ve got a guest post at Scientific American on woolly mammoth cloning.

  1. Dr. Gill,
    forgive me if I’m wrong, but I would like to draw your attention to a paragraph in your article that I think is in need of a closer look.

    “Does it matter that there are no mammoth matriarchs to nurse that calf, to inoculate it with necessary gut bacteria, to teach it how to care for itself, how to speak with other mammoths, where the ancestral migration paths are, and how to avoid sinkholes and find water? Does it matter that the permafrost is melting, and that the mammoth steppe is gone? As much as I love mammoths, the ecologist in me can’t help but answer: no.”

    I think, actually, you mean “yes” – those things do matter…and the “no” is in answer to the question asking if one lone mammoth in an enclosure is really a mammoth.

    All in all a fine article trying to nip our compulsiveness in the bud…

    • Thanks for your comment! It looks like this sentence: Is one lonely calf, raised in captivity and without the context of its herd and environment, really a mammoth? was moved to the preceding paragraph by mistake; it should have come directly before “the ecologist in me can’t help but answer: no.” I’ll see if I can get that fixed, and thanks for pointing it out!

      • My pleasure – it was a great read and honestly, I’m delighted to know that somebody in the world has such cool work as you. My inner 8 year old is thrilled, though a little jealous. 🙂

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