Tyrades! Pachyderms of a certain age
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news service, Japanese researchers are launching a five-year project to bring the long-extinct woolly mammoth back to life through cloning technology. (Mammoths began dying out around 10,000 years ago, near the end of the Ice Age.)
Believe it or not, Lindsay Lohan was one of the forces behind the project to "Bring Back The Woolly Mammoths." She dropped out only after learning that the woolly mammoth is NOT a mixed drink.
Tissue for the cloning will come from the carcass of a mammoth preserved in a Russian research laboratory. (More than 80 percent of all mammoth finds have been dug up in the permafrost of eastern Siberia.) I would love to credit the Russians with altruistic intentions, but my Cold War paranoia remains. ("Remember, comrade, do not jar the tissue, keep it the proper temperature and speak slowly and distinctly around it.")
AFP says the possible causes of the extinction have generated "fiery debate." I'm glad SOMEONE can have a fiery debate about that topic. Most of us have a fiery debate such as "Shall I pay the electric bill or the phone bill this month?" More power to the geeks, whom I'm sure also engage in fiery debates such as "How come my love life is extinct?"
Some experts believe that mammoths were hunted to extinction by humans (and would've been wiped out even sooner if humans weren't waiting for the invention of beer and an adhesive strong enough to attach mammoth heads to cave walls). Other experts argue that global warming caused the demise of a species adapted to colder climates. If so, this was one of prehistory's greatest tragedies, as poor Al Gore didn't make a dime off of it.
We live in amazing times. Cloning was once the stuff of science fiction. Now cloning, satellites and robots are all reality. It's paying off college loans that has become the stuff of science fiction.
Just think: in 2016 the baby mammoth will emerge from the womb of an elephant, enjoy its 15 minutes of fame and go into rehab. Kindergarteners won't be subjected to the dull scientific stuff, but will get all the important information in "Baby Mammoth Has Two Mommies."
Inevitably, someone will accuse the scientists of "playing God," but I don't remember God cloning mammoths, so that field seems wide open. I don't really picture God saying, "G'wan, boy! This is MY corner!" anyway.
The Japanese scientists have not yet decided whether to display the mammoth publicly. Does anyone smell possible abuse? ("That's right. We cloned mammoths...and Bigfoot...and the Loch Ness Monster...and uh, Puff the Magic Dragon. Keep that funding coming.")
There will be a rush to exploit the mammoths as exotic pets (pot-bellied mammoths, anyone?), Las Vegas performers and something big enough to sit on Brett Favre and stop him from un-retiring again. But look for People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to step in. Expect the mammoths to get endangered species status, United Nations protection and a lifetime supply of crème rinse and conditioner out of the deal.
I understand Hollywood is salivating over a movie version of the story. But who could do justice to the frozen pachyderms? Wait--here he comes! It's a clone of Walt Disney! Boy, I love cloning urban legends!
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org. Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.