Thursday, February 27, 2014

How cool are woolly mammoths?

Consider this: The current New York Times Magazine has an article by Nathaniel Rich on de-extinction--the idea of using genetic tools, such as cloning, to revive extinct animals. It's a very interesting and well thought out article. The hook for the article is the story of Ben Novak, an man who is obsessed with passenger pigeons. Throughout the article, the example of the passenger pigeon is used to discuss the challenges, the ethical issues, and the possible environmental impacts of recreating an extinct species. How did the editors decide to present this story? Naturally, they turned it into a mammoth story. The title is "The Mammoth Cometh." Two of the six illustrations are of the mammoth model in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Only one is of a passenger pigeon. Of the three quotes in giant fonts, one refers to mammoths and one to passenger pigeon. In Rich's 6600 word article, the word mammoth appears sixteen times, usually mentioned only in passing. The first mention isn't until the seventh paragraph.

The simple fact ie the public loves mammoths. Mammoths sell. It's almost impossible to publish a story about the end of the ice age or pleistocene extinctions without wrapping it in mammoth packaging. The public is hungry for new information and stories about mammoths. And I have them. That is why someone needs to publish my book and give it a big marketing campaign.


Gav said...

Bugger mammoths. I want a gomphothere.

Gav said...

... but I'll settle for a mammoth.