Tag Archives: woolly mammoth

First Footprint in the Snow

A bioscience company aims to genetically resurrect the woolly mammoth, and to place thousands of them back on the Siberian tundra ….

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Doctor Mira Daniellova looked at the huge beast lying on the floor of the disused aircraft hangar and took a long, anxious breath.

The hangar housed the lab in which, for the past ten years, she had pursued her dream. She had chosen this site, far out in the wastes of the Siberian tundra, partly to be near where the work would culminate, and partly because it was far from any village likely to be populated by people with pitchforks, flaming torches and a narrow-minded approach to experimental resurrection.

For her dream was to revive the woolly mammoth. She hoped that they would restore the ecosystem here, that they would re-fertilize the grasslands that once flourished, and that they would produce enough wool to rid the world forever of the nylon jumper, since she was especially susceptible to attack by static electricity.

Now she turned to her assistant, whose name was Igor – not because of stereotype, but because this is Russia, where the name is common.

“It’s time,” she said.

She felt that Igor should have pulled a huge lever, that there should have been a crack of thunder, that a jagged finger of lightning should have leapt from her equipment to the prone body, that several of the jars around her should have spontaneously exploded. Instead Igor simply nodded and pressed a key on his computer.

At least it was the return key, she told herself.

They both held their breath. The computer screen showed “Please Wait” for a few seconds, then ran updates, shut down, restarted, and showed a photo of an Amsterdam canal. That’s Windows 10 for you.

Igor sighed, logged in again, and re-ran the program.

Nothing happened.

Mira’s shoulders slumped. She stared despondently at the giant inert face of the creature before her, fighting back tears.

Suddenly one huge eye opened.

“It’s alive!” she breathed, and found she had to fight an urge to add “mwa-ha-ha” to the sentence.

The mammoth climbed to its four feet, and Mira for the first time felt a sense of just how truly huge it was. It stared wildly around, dazzled by the garish artificial light, and lumbered its way across the hangar towards the huge door at the far end.

“The doors are locked,” said Igor.

“Pitchforks?” asked Mira.

Igor looked embarrassed. “Well, you never know,” he said. “Anyway, it’s trapped.”

The mammoth ripped the door off its hinges with its trunk.

“Or not,” said Mira.

The hut filled with icy Siberian air. Mira and Igor struggled into coats as the mammoth stepped out into a shrieking gale. It lifted their Ski-doo between its great curved tusks and hurled it aside, where it exploded. It then did a mammoth dump, in both senses of that phrase, before heading off across the wastes in search of somewhere colder.

Mira and Igor stood at the doorway, watching as it slowly faded away into the darkness.

“There it goes,” said Mira, “first of its kind.”

“And last,” said Igor. “We’ll never catch him without the Ski-doo.”

“Her,” said Mira. “And we don’t have to worry about catching her. She’s pregnant.”

“What? How?”

“You really don’t want to know,” said Mira.

“So you haven’t just created one?” said Igor. “You’ve created a whole species?”

Mira smiled. “They say if your dreams don’t scare you,” she said, “then they aren’t big enough.”

“Or you’ve never seen Jurassic Park,” muttered Igor.