The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones and How It Was Solved

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9780060274931: The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones and How It Was Solved

When giant bones are found on a farm in New York State in 1801, no one knows what sort of creature they came from. Are they the fossilized bones of an elephant or of a mammoth, the huge animal that has recently been unearthed in northern Russia? Or do they come from a different animal entirely? There's only one way to find out--dig up and assemble a complete skeleton of the creature. And Charles Willson Peale is just the man to take on the job.

At the age of sixty, Peale has already made his mark as a portrait painter and scientist, as well as the founder of the first natural history museum in the United States. If he can put on display a skeleton of the mysterious creature, people will flock in even greater numbers to his Philadelphia museum. The skeleton may also help to prove a controversial new theory: that some animals that once roamed the Earth have become extinct.

As he searches for more bones, Peale must dig at several different sites. He is confronted by flooding, threats of cave-ins, and oppressive heat but persists in his quest. What he eventually finds confirms the existence of a previously unknown animal -- the mastodon It also provides solid evidence not only that some animals have become extinct, but also that the Earth is far older than anyone ever imagined.

Based on Charles Willson Peale's own diaries and journals, The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones is a gripping scientific thriller.

Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2000, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council

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About the Author:

James Cross Giblin is the author of eighteen books for young readers, many of which have received awards and honors. Twelve of his titles, most recently Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero and When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS have been named Notable Children's Books by the American Library Association. In 1996 he received the Washington Post--Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for his body of work. Mr. Giblin lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

With the pacing of an ace detective, Giblin (Charles Lindbergh) unveils the painstaking steps in artist and naturalist Charles Willson Peale's 1801 discovery of mammoth bones. Through a third-person narration of Peale's experience, Giblin establishes these fossils' revolutionary importance to science, technology and social history, beginning with Peale's exploratory digs, his assemblage of the first skeleton and its subsequent exhibition and controversy. Structuring the text in this way allows Giblin to deftly paint a turn-of-the-19th-century world and to demonstrate how this finding shook prevailing scientific and religious beliefs and contributed to current theories of evolution and extinction. Readers will devour the details that contrast Peale's time to today, such as the harrowing journey from Philadelphia to upstate New York (it took a day and a half just to get from Philadelphia to New York City, before sailing up the Hudson River in the days before steam power), a trip that today takes three hours, and President Thomas Jefferson's personal interest in and professional support of the excavation. Unfortunately, some details lack context, such as the original $200 pricetag of the bones without mention of what that sum could buy. After wrapping up this gripping mystery and its legacy, profusely illustrated with photographs of the mammoths and Peale's own sketches, Giblin concludes with a brief biography of the Renaissance man Peale and a summary of theories on mammoths and mastodons. Fans of all things dinosaur will find much to explore here, and readers may well be infected with Peale's pioneering spirit. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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