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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 21.4 > PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

MASTODON GRINDER TOOTH STUDIED BY CUVIER

We ended Part One with a wonderful scene from 200 years ago: President Thomas Jefferson gleefully sorting mastodon fossils in the halls of the White House. It was an exciting time for Jefferson and other fans of the mammoth and mastodon mysteries. Breakthroughs came in a rush. After centuries of wonder, legends, debate, and frustrating guesswork, many key pieces of this fossil puzzle snapped into place in just a handful of years. Largely complete mastodon skeletons were finally unearthed in the United States, allowing the bones of this so-called “American incognitum” to be put together and displayed for the very first time. The discovery of a well-preserved frozen mammoth in Siberia provided not only a nearly complete skeleton but also its shaggy skin. This revealed that wooly mammoths were adapted for life in cold climates. And in France, scientific research by the naturalist Georges Cuvier convincingly demonstrated that mammoths, mastodons, and modern elephants were all distinct from one another. It was Cuvier who gave the incognitum its name— “mastodon”—based on its “grinder” teeth.

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DECEPTION IN CANCER TREATMENT SPECIAL ISSUE: The Cancer-care Industry’s Marketing is Among the Most Deceptive on the Consumer Landscape. SPECIAL SECTION: Classic Skepticism: The Amityville Hoax at 40; Alien Sulls: Do the Mysterious Rhodope Skull and Adygea Skulls Belong to Aliens?; The Real Meaning Behind the Nazca Geoglyphs; Clown Panics: Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves ARTICLES: The Case for a Galactic Defense System; Is “Spirituality” so Broadly Defined that Testing for it is Meaningless?; Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?; Luck and Regression to the Mean: One of the Most Fundamental Sources of Error in Human Judgment; Political Obfuscation: Thinking Critically about Public Discourse. COLUMNS: The SkepDoc: Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth is Still Only a Legend, by Harriet Hall, M.D.; The Gadfly: Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better? by Carol Tavris REVIEWS: “Three books about the Salem Witch Trials and their legacy: The Witches: Salem, by Stacy Schiff; In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton; America Bewitched: America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem, by Owen Davies JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Mammoth Mysteries! Part Two, by Daniel Loxton
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