Male; married; wife's name Mutsumi. Education: Graduated from Cornell University.
Home—Washington, DC. Agent—Kerry Nugent-Wells, The Garamond Agency Inc., 12 Horton St., Newburyport, MA 01950. E-mail—[email protected].
Science journalist. Science magazine, European news editor.
Evert Clark Award for science journalism, 1995; Walter Sullivan Award, American Geophysical Union, 2001, for "Vostok: Looking for Life beneath an Antarctic Glacier."
Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant, Perseus Publishing (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Discover, Moscow Times, Smithsonian, and Washington Post.
Two expeditions to Siberia to study the remains of a frozen woolly mammoth provide the basis for Richard Stone's book Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant. Stone, an award-winning science journalist and European news editor of Science, accompanied researchers and a team from the Discovery Channel when they traveled to the Taimyr peninsula in 1999 and airlifted the carcass of a woolly mammoth, still encased in twenty-three tons of permafrost, to a special refrigerated facility. Workers with a second expedition focused on gradually thawing the animal's body so that tissue samples could be studied. One goal was the extraction of sperm cells that could be used to regenerate the species.
Stone told Salon.com interviewer Katharine Mieszkowski that he believes "we could see a cloned mammoth within a generation, within twenty years." The mammoth DNA scientists currently have is broken. With improvements in technology, however, it would be possible to repair the damaged DNA and "essentially stitch together an entire mammoth genome to clone." But Stone also explained that cloning a mammoth would pose significant risks. Mammoths may have been hosts for unknown diseases that could affect humans or other animals. Also, cloned animals may encounter serious medical problems. "You might create these really pathetic, miserable creatures," he added. "Talk about a denouement. All the excitement would really be gone. And all this dream of having mammoths roaming the earth would not happen."
Critics found the book exciting and thought-provoking. Catherine Badgley in Quarterly Review of Biology described it as "part travelogue, part history of Siberian mammoth discoveries going back 200 years, and part review of the theories about Late Pleistocene extinction." Yet Badgley also found that "adventure, novelty, fame, and fortune outweigh science" in Stone's account. Times Literary Supplement writer Ian Tattersall also noted the book's "heroic" appeal as a story of a "quixotic quest" against harsh elements, bureaucratic difficulties, political corruption, and tribal superstitions. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly considered Mammoth "sometimes digressive and overly detailed," but nevertheless a "provocative look at the world of today's mammoth hunters." In Wilson Quarterly, Ann Finkbeiner wrote, "The book's science is beautifully clear, the expedition leaders are obviously nuts, and those mammoths are lovely to think about."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Antiquity, December, 2001, N. James and Simon Stod-dart, review of Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant, p. 878.
Booklist, August, 2001, Nancy Bent, review of Mammoth, p. 2066.
Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Gloria Maxwell, review of Mammoth, p. 221.
Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2001, review of Mammoth, p. 82.
Quarterly Review of Biology, June, 2002, Catherine Badgley, review of Mammoth, pp. 192-193.
Science News, October 26, 2002, review of Mammoth, p. 271.
Times Literary Supplement, August 2, 2002, Ian Tattersall, review of Mammoth, p. 3.
Wilson Quarterly, autumn, 2001, Ann Finkbeiner, review of Mammoth, p. 154.
Book Sense,http://www.booksense.com/ (January 23, 2004), Richard Stone, "In Search of the Mammoth."
Mammoth Home Page,http://www.nasw.org/users/rstone (January 23, 2004).