Sunday, 13 January 2008

Notes towards a definition of Mastodon

(originally posted on myspace here)

On Tuesday I'm going to record a voiceover for a "documentary for the Sci Fi Channel". That's all I know so far and I'm simultaneously very excited and sure I shouldn't be since I've no idea what the Sci Fi Channel actually documents. Nevertheless yesterday found me pacing the floor of Plague fruitlessly speculating which words I might be called upon to intone ("Cosmos" was one I hoped for. "Shelley" another.) And then in the evening, changing the subject somewhat, I went over to John Finnemore's where the conversation among those assembled inevitably turned to the root of the word "Mastodon"... "something teeth" was as far as we got before Robbie looked it up: And a mastodon, it turns out, is an extinct straight-backed elephant, slightly smaller than the Mammoth, whose teeth "exhibit a pattern of cone-shaped cusps ideal for browsing". Which must be why the committee of paleontologists called together to name this lesser mammoth settled on the name "Nipple Teeth". That's what "Mastodon" means. That is the lesser mammoth's defining characteristic according to those namers. It's teeth look like tits.

And does anyone remember those Italian Scientists who published research into the number of glasses of wine you should drink a day? Four, they'd discovered. They sound fun too.


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