Discovering the Mammoth

Discovering the Mammoth : A Tale of Giants, Unicorns, Ivory, and the Birth of a New Science

3.54 (85 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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John J. McKay brings together dozens of original documents and illustrations to show how an odd assortment of characters solved the mystery of the mammoth and, in doing so, created the science of palaeontology.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 165 x 236 x 23mm | 425g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 8 pages of color illustrations
  • 1681774240
  • 9781681774244
  • 1,259,936

Review quote

"McKay examines our long fascination with the mysterious, extinct pachyderms that once roamed the earth." * New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) * "McKay argues persuasively for the mammoth as 'a catalyst that drove a revolution in thinking." * The New Yorker * "Discovering the Mammoth is one of those books that make you wonder about the author as much as about his topic. Mr. McKay makes the case that, beginning about 1600, mammoths and their mastodon cousins became 'a focusing problem for a scientific revolution.' They were the starting point for sweeping changes in geology and comparative anatomy and in the ways we think about life on Earth. Mr. McKay fills in the European background in admirable detail. Mammoths, elephants and their kin, John McKay suggests, helped make us who we are." * The Wall Street Journal * "McKay masterfully weaves an intricate story of the events, politics, people, and scientific development associated with the 'rediscovery' of mammoths." * Booklist * "A well-organized history of science. [McKay's] story is not about ancient creatures, but about how humans approach the world's mysteries." * Publishers Weekly * "As John McKay vividly relates, the scientific saga [of the mammoth] began in the seventeenth century, when the evocative remains became pivotal to the evolution of vertebrate palaeontology." * Nature *
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About John J. McKay

John J. McKay has a Master's in History from the University of Washington. A technical writer by trade, he is the "Mammoth Guy" by vocation, and his remarkable archival research, lively wit and passion for extinct proboscideans is well known to the scientific community. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where people appreciate a good mammoth. Visit him at
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Rating details

85 ratings
3.54 out of 5 stars
5 16% (14)
4 35% (30)
3 34% (29)
2 14% (12)
1 0% (0)
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