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Woolly Mammoth

Animal Paradise
by yo go re

This is one of the things I bought on Singles Day. I bought it for a reason. Bonus internet "cool points" to you if you can guess what that reason is before I reveal it.

This woolly mammoth comes from a company or line called Animal Paradise, according to the cardboard hang-tag that came with it. Animal Paradise does not have a website of its own with interesting information about the animals it makes (the way Schleich and Safari Ltd. do), so it's up to us to fill your brains with interesting mammoth-related information!

There's one significant difference between woolly mammoths and other prehistoric creatures - other than the obvious "mammal vs. saurian" thing, of course. What is it? The mammoth never didn't exist. Think about it: we had to discover T. rexes, we had to discover stegosauruses, we had to discover every single one of the Dinobots... but mankind has always known about mammoths. We didn't have to discover them any more than we had to "discover" canines or felines. Until the late 1800s, humanity had no idea there had ever been such a thing as a dinosaur, but mammoths? They were always in our past, since before history was even recorded in any way. We may have forgotten them for a time, but they were there.

We think of mammoths as being huge creatures - so much so that their name came to be used as a synonym for size. But the truth is that a woolly mammoth is approximately the same size as today's African elephants, standing about 10' tall at the shoulder. The highest point on this toy is the fur on top of its head, which just crests the 5" mark. It's approximately 7¾" long from its trunk to the trailing heel, and its widest point is clearly going to be the tusks, at more than 3" from side to side.

One thing that's absolutely not bigger on mammoths than on elephants? The ears. Elephants use their ears to help disperse body heat, because they live in hot climates, but since mammoths lived where it was colder, their ears had to be smaller to prevent frostbite. The ears on this beastie are sppropriately tiny, and they flank a pair of solid black eyes. His trunk is lifted slightly, so it doesn't drag on the ground, and his tusks curl around impressively. They're also how you can tell this is a "he" - female mammoth tusks aren't that different from modern elephants'. And hunting mammoth tusks is a bit of a cottage industry in Siberia, because mammoth ivory is still legal to sell, while elephant ivory is not.

The mammoth has a nice sculpt. It's posed walking forward slowly - presuming that mammoths move similarly to their modern cousins, they lift their back foot on one side, then the front foot on the same side, and put them both down again before repeating the same on the other side. He's captured here lifting his right heel.

The fur looks thick and shaggy, as it should: mammoths had a double coat, with foot-long guard hairs on the outside and shorter, woolier hairs under that. It's the same setup a lot of dogs have even today, because when evolution finds something it likes, it isn't shy about reusing it. Most of the mammoths that get dug out of the permafrost today have red fur, but that's just a result of the natural pigments chemically decaying over long peroids of time - this toy is an appropriate dark brown with a little black. Its toesnails are painted grey, and the white tusks really stand out vibrantly against the dark fur.

We think of mammoths as being distantly prehistoric creatures, extinct perhaps before we'd even developed complex language. But in truth, it's much more recent than that. Startlingly more recent. The Great Pyramids? They were 1,000 years old when the last mammoths died. Stonehenge was 400 years old. Mammoths lived on Wrangel Island, 80 miles from the Russian mainland, until something - either climate change or the arrival of humans - finally did them in, circa 1650 BC.

Mammoths are cool, sure, but I didn't really feel the need to own one by itself - not like, say, a Feathered T. rex. But at approximately 1:30 scale, this makes an excellent accessory for the Ghost Rider of 1,000,000 BC! Technically a Minimate mammoth should be blockier, and I could really use some flame effects to go on it, but the Minimate can sit on the neck pretty well, and now Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur can have some friends to hang out with.

-- 01/09/19

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