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by Caroline Arnold & illustrated by Laurie Caple

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-09633-7
Publisher: Clarion

Giants of the Ice Age, the woolly mammoths roamed the ice-covered steppes 26,000 years ago, while their lesser-known and larger cousins, the Columbian mammoths, wandered the warmer regions of the southern US and Mexico. Arnold, author of Did You Hear That? (2001) and many other science titles, describes the Elephantidae family tree, including modern-day elephants, mammoths, mastodons, and even dwarf mammoths and discusses fossil remains found in bogs, lakes, and tar pits as well as fully preserved specimens found in the permafrost of Siberia and Alaska. Recent findings are included, too, for instance, the recovering of Jarkov’s mammoth by French explorer Bernard Buigues in 1997 and the recovery of “Baby Dima,” a young woolly mammoth calf discovered by goldminers in Siberia in 1977. From fossil findings, Arnold postulates what the animals looked like and how they lived and died. The text gets technical at times, as when she discusses how radioactive carbon dating works. Or when she explains that the American mastodon is part of a group known as the gomphotheres, and while several different kinds of gomphotheres lived in South America, they were the only proboscideans to have lived on the continent. Watercolor illustrations are most successful in showing animals like the shaggy, woolly mammoth where there are well-preserved models. Reconstructions of animals known only from bones are less convincing. For example, the Columbian mammoth looks like Dumbo with a few prickly hairs stuck on, and the pudgy sabertooth cat seems an unconvincing predator. The picture-book format may appeal to science readers too young to access the text, so there’s something for everyone. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)