Raising the Mammoth

Synopsis: A scientist wants to recover some mammoth DNA to clone a live mammoth. So he finds a buried mammoth in the vast, rock hard permafrost of Siberia, digs it out in the middle of a blizzard and flies it home. Of course he needed a little help. So he befriended an arctic nomad who knows ever rill, rock, pond and stream in the entire region. As background to the quest, National Geographic relates the migratory history of the mammoth family.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Jean-Charles Deniau
Production: Discovery Communications
  Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 5 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.1
Year:
2000
92 min
6 Views

In a desert of ice

at the edge of the earth

the search is on for something

out of this world.

It began with a dream

to awaken a sleeping giant and

raise it from its tomb.

And through the powers of science

to see it rise again.

One man

one mission.

The quest for the woolly mammoth.

Once a week

the Iliushin 18 touches down

on a remote airstrip

in Siberia's far north.

Khatanga, a forgotten town above

the Arctic Circle

was a Soviet outpost during

the Cold War.

Isolated by politics and geography

it seems like it's been asleep

for decades.

Khatanga is a way station for

outdoorsmen and explorers

like Frenchman, Bernard Buigues.

Since 1991

Bernard has led expeditions

to the North Pole,

and this has become his home

away from home.

To find and raise an extinct

woolly mammoth

from the frozen tundra is

this year's mission.

Long-time friend Anatoly Androssov

will provide key support.

Nicknamed "niet problem," Anatoly

is a mechanical wizard.

In a place where equipment

is ancient

and spare parts a good barter,

Anatoly's know-how will safeguard

the mission's success.

In his hunt for the ancient animal,

Bernard gathers ammunition with

21 st century tools.

The woolly mammoth reigned during

the last Ice Age

which began a hundred thousand

years ago.

The mammoth and modern elephant are

part of an ancient

order of mammals known as

the proboscideans for their trunks.

Their earliest link may have been

an amphibious animal

with a pig-like body and no tusks.

Other distant relatives developed

strange-Iooking lower tusks

resembling shovels

or fangs.

With roots in Africa dating back

four million years

ancient mammoths and elephants were

"cousins"

that walked the Earth together

before taking separate evolutionary

paths.

Only the Asian and African elephants

would survive to this century.

Whether the mammoth is more closely

related to its Asian

or African cousin is a matter of

scientific debate.

But as it moved away from tropical

climates,

it's clear that its anatomy changed

radically.

An adaptation to the cold,

the mammoths' ears shrank

as they migrated north to the Arctic.

They developed long shaggy fur

and a domed skull to hold the weight

of heavy tusks.

And their tusks grew long and curvy,

perhaps to clear the ground

as they foraged for grass and plants.

Masters of adaptation,

they thrived across the northern

hemisphere.

In Bernard's kitchen,

plans for the mammoth hunt are

hatching.

Vladimir Eisner,

a Russian interpreter with a 22-year

case of Arctic fever,

is up for the challenge.

It's a toast to success.

To hunt the animal lost to history

12,222 years ago,

Bernard must travel even

farther north.

In his two-year search

he's had little success.

But he charters a helicopter,

the only reliable way to check out

a promising new lead.

Experts think that some 12 million

mammoth remains

may be locked in the permafrost

most in northwestern Siberia

and here in the Taimyr Peninsula

where Bernard is focusing his search.

Over the years, he's done some

business

with a nomadic tribe of reindeer

herders.

He's convinced that the Dolgans

can help him.

In their travels

they find mammoth tusks,

and where there are tusks

there might be remains.

In a land of scarcity, bartering

is the custom.

I will give him spare parts...

A deal is struck, and the pay-off

handsome.

Yes, the Dolgan chief confirms,

he found a pair of tusks in

a hillside a summer ago.

It was the first time

I saw real tusks in good condition

in tundra.

It was very cold time,

but I was so excited to see the

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