Friday, 22 November 2013

Second proof is ready, index all but done, availability by Christmas looking likely

I've finished the second - and possibly final - proof of Pygmy Elephants, and I'm merging my corrections with those of my proofreader, a zoology graduate and former professional indexer.

The index is done, but it needs some savage cuts. So names for different types of elephants in local African languages have to go: "m'paa" and "n'zerre" will regrettably not feature in the index. My favourite index entries that will (hopefully) make it into the final version are "Caesar, Julius - disparaging of war elephants" and "tapir - fossil tapir skull misidentified as elephant's".

Julius Caesar had a low opinion of war elephants as they took too long to train, in his opinion, while the great comparative anatomist and zoologist Baron Georges Cuvier, in one several works on the bones of fossil and extant elephants, concluded that a fossil skull identified as that of a prehistoric elephant was that of a "big tapir."

You'll have to buy the book to find out more. My publisher assures me that there are more than likely to be copies available in time for Christmas, postage permitting, with a bit of last-minute pre-Christmas guerrilla marketing. The book launch party, which promises to be a bit of a wild one as it's been so long since I've thrown any kind of party, will have to wait till beyond the New Year, simply because of the impossibility of getting any kind of venue for it this close to Christmas.

Mammoths also feature in Pygmy Elephants, including several varieties of pygmy mammoths, and some populations of mammoths that were possibly shrinking over successive generations. Shown here is a conventionally-sized woolly mammoth painted on the shutter of a shop in Middlesex Street, London E1, part of parade of shops with Ice Age fauna. If it were to scale, it would be about the height of some of the pygmy mammoths, although the proportions would probably be different. And not all of the pygmy mammoths would have been woolly.

Photo copyright Matt Salusbury, mammoth image copyright the artist

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