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Lair of the Beasts: The Last Mammoth?
By Nick Redfern
August 18, 2012
The Mammoth was a majestic and legendary creature that roamed the lonely wilds of North America, the vast expanses of Western Europe, and the harsh, frozen lands of northern Russia during the Pleistocene era, and which is generally accepted as having finally become extinct at some time around the end of the last Ice Age.
Today, all we have left of this huge, mighty beast are a number of fairly well preserved carcasses found embedded in icy tombs, and the various bone and tusk fragments that still continue to surface from time to time. Could there, however, still possibly be more – maybe even much more - just waiting to be uncovered?
For many years – actually, for centuries, no less - intriguing and admittedly sensational rumors have surfaced to the effect that in some of the more remote parts of our planet the Mammoth just might still exist, blissfully unaware of what such a shocking and jaw-dropping revelation would mean to the world’s zoological community, if one day fully confirmed.
And while such a scenario is certainly deeply controversial in the extreme, and one that is completely derided by mainstream science and zoology, perhaps it is not entirely out of the question.
In the late 19th Century, a researcher and adventurer named Bengt Sjogren learned that tales were both wildly and widely circulating in certain remote parts of Alaska about giant, hairy tusked creatures that lived deep under cover of the huge, ancient forests that dominated the state.
The sensational stories don’t end there, however. French charge d’affaire, M. Gallon, was working in Vladivostok in 1946, and revealed that, more than twenty-five years earlier, he had met with a Russian fur-trapper who claimed to have seen what were described as large, hair-covered elephants residing deep inside the heart of the taiga. Gallon added that the trapper appeared to have no previous knowledge of mammoths and seemingly had no visible reason to fake such a wild and near unbelievable story.
A further sighting allegedly occurred during the Second World War when a Soviet Air Force pilot reported seeing a small herd of such creatures while he was flying over the frozen wastelands of Siberia.
But, for our purposes, we have to now focus upon the saga of one Grigory Tilov, a mountaineer who maintained he encountered two such creatures, in 1936, at the foot of Mount Elbrus – at more than 18,000 feet in height, the tallest peak in the Caucasus Mountains.
According to Tilov, who related his story in the early 1960s to one Felix Ziegel – a doctor of science at the Moscow Aviation Center, and a man who, in 1967, took part in the Soviet Union’s first, formal study of the UFO mystery – he was about to scale at least parts of the mountain on one particular morning in the summer of 1936 when he was stopped in his tracks by the jaw-dropping sight of two, small mammoths lumbering along at a slow pace, and at a distance of around three hundred feet from him.
Even at that distance, said Tilov, there was no mistaking their unique identity. He quickly pulled out his binoculars for a better look and, sure enough, he was not wrong. The mammoth, believed dead for so long by so many, was still among us; but not, perhaps, for too long.
As the animals got closer – to within a maximum distance of about fifty feet - but seemingly paying no attention to the astonished climber, Tilov could see that both mammoths were very thin, displayed evidence of significant hair loss, walked slowly and wearily, and were clearly undernourished.
Although Tilov possessed a rifle, he told Ziegel that he never even once thought about using it on what he considered to be a pair of amazing animals that it was a privilege to have encountered. Given their emaciated states, Tilov speculated that perhaps they were the very last of their kind, fated to early deaths from starvation at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. And, just maybe, he was right.
Nick Redfern’s latest book, The World’s Weirdest Places will be published by New Page Books in September.