Speaking of Science

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Catherine the Great : Old Earther

Posted by jns on 6 July 2011

Catherine the Great (1729–1796) speaking to Volatire (1694–1778) on the subject of woolly mammoth carcasses found in Siberian permafrost:

What proves, I think, that the world is a little older than our nurses tell us are the finds of bones of elephants long ago extinct embedded in the ground in northern Siberia”

[quoted in Mariana Gosnell, Ice : The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2005; p. 233.]

At the time she would have said this it was not yet commonly understood that fossils were the remains of extinct species, and the Earth was still commonly thought to be about 6,000 years old, as her nurses might have told her.

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