10 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
Do Mammoths Still Roam?
Creatures of the Frozen North
By Nick Redfern
October 04, 2008
Do Woolly Mammoths still roam?
The Mammoth: a mighty creature that roamed the lonely wilds of North America, the expanses of Western Europe, and the harsh lands of northern Russia during the Pleistocene era, and which is generally accepted as having become extinct somewhere around the end of the last Ice Age.
Today, all we have left of this huge, majestic creature are a few 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, much more - just waiting to be uncovered?
For years, intriguing and sensational rumors have surfaced to the effect that in some of the more remote parts of our world 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.
And while such a scenario is certainly controversial, and completely derided by mainstream science, perhaps it is not entirely out of the question.
For example, the related Dwarf Mammoth of Wrangel Island – located in the Arctic Ocean - is known to have lived until approximately 1700 to 1500 BC, which is itself startling and highly illuminating.
But far more controversial are those claims suggesting that the Mammoth still walks the frozen tundra and forests of the north to this very day.
“Absolute nonsense!” some might say. Others, however, just might be inclined to argue with that assertion.
In the late 19th Century, for example, researcher Bengt Sjorgen learned that tales were both wildly and widely circulating in remote parts of Alaska about giant, hairy tusked creatures that lived deep under cover of the huge, ancient forests. Such reports of the “hairy elephants” in question extended to equally wild parts of both Canada and Siberia.
Similarly, in February 1888, the New Zealand-based Argus newspaper reported on the apparent discovery in Alaska of strange tracks that had been found by the Stick Indians in the vicinity of the White River.
The newspaper stated: “One of the Indians said that while hunting, he came across an immense track sunk several inches in the moss and larger around than a barrel. The Indian followed up the curious trail, and at last came in full view of his game.
“These Indians as a class are the bravest of hunters, but the immense proportions of this new kind of game filled the hunter with fear, and he took to swift and immediate flight. He described it as being larger than the post trader’s store, with great shining, yellowish tusks, and a mouth large enough to swallow him at a single gulp.”
Then, during October 1899, the story of one Henry Tukeman surfaced – a man who claimed to have killed a Mammoth that was subsequently donated to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
The tale was denounced as nothing more than a sensationalized hoax; however, some researchers still believe that it just might have a grain of truth to it, and that the hoax angle was possibly introduced to try and lay the controversy firmly to rest.
And also in the late 1800s, several reports of “large, shaggy beasts” were passed on to Russian authorities by Siberian tribesman, but no proof was ever forthcoming – some might say inevitably and conveniently.
The stories don’t end there, however.
French charge d’affaire, M. Gallon, was working in Vladivostok in 1946 and revealed that in 1920 he had met with a Russian fur-trapper who claimed to have seen living, “giant, furry elephants” deep in the taiga. Gallon added that the trapper appeared to have no previous knowledge of mammoths and seemingly had no reason to fake such a wild story.
A further sighting reportedly 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.
So, does the legendary Mammoth of times past still exist? Or are all of the tales merely friend-of-a-friend accounts, myths, hoaxes, and misidentifications?
Personally, I have been fascinated – and perhaps, I’ll be the first to admit, slightly obsessed - by these stories for years. And, just like The X-Files said: I want to believe. I really do.
Of course, the skeptical part of my brain tells me that the Mammoth is an utterly dead creature; one whose existence came to a tragic and definitive end thousands of years ago – aside from in Sci-Fi Pictures’ Mammoth movie of 2006, and in this year’s production 10,000 BC, it could be argued.
But who can deny the appeal that stories like those I have cited above create in the minds of thrill-seekers everywhere? Certainly not me.
If there was one expedition I could go on, and if both funding and time were unlimited, it would be to the old stomping grounds of the Mammoth.
Okay, I know full well that the chances of actually finding a living, breathing Mammoth are beyond miniscule. But, as long as there is even the remotest of possibilities, I know I’ll never be truly satisfied until I go and seek out the creature for myself.
Until that day hopefully comes, like everyone else I can only continue to hope that, far from prying eyes, the Mammoth continues to walk the earth; utterly oblivious to the controversy it’s may be creating at Mania.com.
Nick Redfern is a full-time monster-hunter and the author of four books on the subject: Three Men Seeking Monsters; Memoirs of a Monster Hunter; Man-Monkey; and his new book: There’s something in the Woods.