How to Deep-Freeze a Mammoth
How does bison meat taste after being frozen for 30,000 years? Were Ice Age cave painters trying to create "art" or just record history? How did ancient oil spills occur, before there were oil companies to create them? Those are just some of the questions renowned paleontologist Bjorn Kurten answers in this collection of lighthearted essays on fossils, ancient life, and related topics. Written for the general reader, these lively pieces range from a look at how scientific theories are created to some new views of old myths. Among the topics Kurten examines are the history of the Mediterranean Sea, the origin of birds, the theory of plate tectonics (continental drift), and the discovery of Piltdown Man, the "missing link" fossil forgery that fooled scientists for more than 40 years.And, true to its title, the book offers a humorous "recipe" for freezing a mammoth that is tundra-tested, if not totally foolproof. "You may have to expend a few hundred mammoths before everything works out," the reader is cautioned, "But there are plenty of them." (Although the author hasn't tasted the fruits of his mammoth recipe, he did feast on some ancient bison meat that dated from 30,000 years ago. Kurten described the taste as "agreeable.")Throughout these essays Kurten brings the prehistoric world alive with enthusiasm and humor, emphasizing that paleontology is the study of those that lived long ago instead of those who are long dead. As he says, "Isn't it more fun to see a dinosaur as something that used to live, rather than as the monstrous heap of bones which it happens to be at present?"