Younger Dryas Myth-Busting: Flash-Frozen Mammoths Edition

Guest “Pleistocene elephant hunting” by David Middleton

“The body of this mammoth was found perfectly preserved in the Siberian tundra with food still in its mouth and stomach indicating that it froze instantly while grazing.”

The Day After Tomorrow, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow is one of my all-time favorite bad science fiction movies. It ranks right up there with another Roland Emmerich masterpiece, 2012. These movies manage to be superbly entertaining, while getting the science even wronger than Armageddon, the greatest bad science fiction movie ever made. The Day After Tomorrow was based on Art Bell’s The Coming Superstorm. The late Art Bell was the originator of the late night (early morning to me) radio program Coast to Coast AM.

The notion of “flash-frozen” mammoths is so wide-spread, that in some circles (particularly Art Bell, Immanuel Velikovsky, Charles Hapgood, Randall Carlson fans) it is considered common knowledge. It is often cited as “evidence” to support claims that a sudden catastrophic event plunged the Earth back into an “ice age,” instantly freezing Mammoths and other megafauna, while they were eating.

The source of this myth is quite elusive. Author Jason Colavito, did a pretty good job of unpacking it in these blog posts:

Flash-Frozen Mammoths and Their Buttercups: Yet Another Case of Repetition and Recycling of Bad Data


I wasn’t planning on doing more on frozen mammoths after yesterday’s discussion of dining on them, but I found myself increasingly intrigued by the fact that so many fringe history claims for flash-frozen mammoths and eating mammoth steaks trace back to a single 1960 article by Ivan T. Sanderson in the Saturday Evening Post. He was not the first to report the claims (having apparently learned of them from Immanuel Velikovsky, according to secondary sources), but his piece directly or indirectly bequeathed the story to biblical creationists like Donald Patten (who claimed Alaskan restaurants served mammoth in the twentieth century), Charles Hapgood (a close friend of Sanderson’s), David Childress, Graham Hancock, and a host of others. So I went to the library to get a copy to find out exactly what Sanderson said.


Sanderson also asserted that the mammoth had been frozen so quickly that its last meal of buttercups were still freshly in bloom in its mouth. “Upon the [tongue] and between the teeth, were portions of the animal’s last meal, which for some incomprehensible reason it had not had time to swallow.” This one fact gave rise to a 56 years of speculation about “instant” freezing of the mammoths in some catastrophist disaster. The scientist who studied the mammoth in situ, Dr. Otto Herz, had written that “more [food] is found on the tongue and between the teeth,” and he assumed that the mammoth died while he was eating, tumbling off a cliff or down a slope to his death. He wrote that the mammoth was not flash-frozen, but rather likely died in a mud pit that froze over shortly after the animal’s death and became buried under layers of dirt. The decrepit state of the flesh reported by the explorers is more than enough to refute Sanderson’s misimpression that the mammoth was fresh enough to eat.


It’s interesting that the report of finding the remains of buttercups in the mammoth’s stomach gradually morphed under catastrophist and creationist influence into something it was never intended to be. Modern writers routinely claim that the mammoth died instantly with “buttercups in its mouth,” or some variation thereof. 


Jason Colavito

After a bit more research, Mr. Colavito determined that the origins of the myth were even older than he thought:

The Claim of Flash-Frozen Mammoths Is Older Than I Thought


A publisher has asked me to assemble a proposal for a short book on the myths and legends associated with the Giza Pyramids, notably the medieval legends of the Muslim world, so I am going to be taking some time today to work on this. In the meantime, I wanted to share something interesting I ran across in reading about Graham Hancock’s new book, America Before. Do you remember the popular claim that there were wooly mammoths flash-frozen in the Arctic as a result of a catastrophic change in climate, perhaps due to a shifting of the poles? It turns out that this claim is much older than I had imagined.


It goes back all the way to 1822, when George Cuvier—the many who was among the first to suggest that fossil elephant bones had been mistaken in ancient times for the bones of Giants—could not fathom how well-preserved wooly mammoths might have been extracted from the Siberian ice. In his Discours sur les Révolutions du Globe, Cuvier, a committed catastrophist who believed that massive disasters caused extinctions, wrote about his belief that the mammoths had been frozen instantly…


From there, the claim was picked up by none other than Louis Figuier, the geologist who later identified the eruption of the Thera volcano with the destruction of Atlantis. Figuier explicitly cites Cuvier among his sources, but in his World Before the Delugehe is decidedly less catastrophist in explaining the origins of the frozen mammoths than his predecessor…


So how did these nineteenth century ideas end up in Velikovsky’s work and Sanderson’s? That answer is depressingly familiar. Ignatius Donnelly selectively cited both accounts in his lesser-read book Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel. He omits the last half of the Figuier quotation to eliminate the reasonable explanation for the mammoths’ frozen state, and he places this before a part of the quotation from Cuvier, suggesting (wrongly) that Cuvier was right and a great catastrophe—a comet strike, whose effects he calls “the Drift”—instantly flash-froze the mammoths. “These citations place it beyond question that the Drift came suddenly upon the world, slaughtering the animals…” he wrote.


From here it is child’s play to see how generations of fringe writers have recycled Donnelly’s deceptive presentation of evidence and thus reproduced Cuvier’s archaic catastrophism by ignoring the two centuries of scholarship that followed.

Jason Colavito

Here’s a classic example:

The Mammoths
Northeast Siberia, which was not covered by ice in the Ice Age, conceals another enigma. The climate there has apparently changed drastically since the end of the Ice Age, and the yearly temperature
has dropped many degrees below its previous level. Animals once lived in this region that do not live there now, and plants grew there that are unable to grow there now. The change must have occurred quite suddenly. The cause of this Klimasturz has not been explained. In this catastrophic change of climate and under mysterious circumstances, all the mammoths of Siberia perished.


However, if geological processes are slow, the mammoths would not have been trapped on the isolated hills. Besides, this theory cannot be true because the animals did not die of starvation. In their stomachs and between their teeth undigested grass and leaves were found. This, too, proves that they died from a
sudden cause. Further investigations showed that the leaves and twigs found in their stomachs do not now grow in the regions where the animals died, but far to the south, a thousand or more miles away. It is apparent that the climate has changed radically since the death of the mammoths; and as the bodies of the animals were found not decomposed but well preserved in blocks of ice, the change in temperature must have followed their death very closely or even caused it.

Immanuel Velikovsky, 1950, 1965

Add Immanuel Velikovsky to the very long list of “geo-mythologists,” who have waxed eloquently about the geological principle of Uniformitarianism, without bothering to look it up.


The concept that the present is the key to the past; and that past geologic events are to be explained by the same physical principles that govern the present.

Dictionary of Geological Terms, Anchor Books, 1976

This bit is priceless:

The climate there has apparently changed drastically since the end of the Ice Age, and the yearly temperature has dropped many degrees below its previous level.


There have been times during the Pleistocene Epoch when NE Siberia was warmer than today. Unfortunately, those were the “super-interglacials”… The most recent of which, MIS-11c, occurred about 400,000 years ago (Melles et al., 2012). Yes, I realize Velikovsky died long-before this was published, but he did have access to the vast majority of “the two centuries of scholarship that followed” Cuvier.

Well-preserved mammoth carcasses

The “funny thing” is that almost all of the well-preserved mammoth carcasses date back older than 20,000 years ago.

NameLocation of discoveryDate of discoveryAge (14C yr BP)
Adams mammothSiberia1799[1][2]35,800±1200[1][3]
Beresovka MammothSiberia1900[4]44,000±3,500[4]
Fairbanks Creek Mammoth (Effie)[5]Alaska1948[5]21,300±1,300[5][6]
Fishhook Mammoth[7]Siberia1990-1992[7]20,620±70[7]
Jarkov Mammoth[8][9]SiberiaJuly 1997[8]20,390±160[8]
Kirgilyakh (Magadan) Mammoth (Dima)[8][10]SiberiaJune 23, 1977[10]41,000±900[10]
Lyuba Mammoth[11][12]SiberiaMay 2007[11]41,700+700/-550[11]
Malolyakhovsky Mammoth[13] Buttercup[14]Siberia2012[13]28,610±110[13]
Yuka Mammoth[16][17]SiberiaAugust 2010[17]34,300+260/−240[17]
Sopkarga Mammoth (Zhenya)[18][19]SiberiaAugust 28, 2012[18][19]43,350±240[19]
Khroma Mammoth[20]SiberiaOctober 2008[20]greater than 45,000[21]
Yukagir mammothSiberiaAutumn of 200222,500 cal. BP [22]

The carcass that perpetuated the flash frozen myth was most likely the Beresovka (Beresovky) Mammoth, first unearthed in 1901.

Berezovsky Mammoth
Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russia
One of the most well-preserved mammoth specimens in the world.

MAMMOTHS ONCE ROAMED ACROSS THE Northern Hemisphere and their remains are scattered across the region. The Zoological Museum in Saint PetersburgRussia contains a large collection of mammoth remains, including some very exclusive specimens. Most are skeletal remains or tusks.


The Berezovsky mammoth was discovered in 1900 near the Berezovka River in Russia. The body was excavated in 1901 and brought to Saint Petersburg. It had been inside the permafrost for about 44,000 years and was very well preserved.

The Berezovsky mammoth was a male who fell off a precipice and died immediately. The body has only a few marks and part of the trunk is missing along with most of the hair. His body is prominently displayed in a glass casket. Some samples of flesh from the Berezovsky mammoth can be found in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.


Altas Obscura

I have not been able to locate an accessible scientific publication on the Beresovka (Beresovky) Mammoth; so I can’t provide the basis for the 44,000 year age. If I had to guess, it would be that it returned an infinite 14C age, if radiometric dating was attempted.

However, I was able to locate full text versions of a few of the references cited in the Wikipedia table. Here are some summaries of the ages of the carcasses and likely causes of death where necropsies were feasible.:

Lyuba and Khroma

Last Terrifying Moments of Baby Mammoths Revealed
By Tia Ghose July 14, 2014

The frightening last moments of two baby mammoths that died thousands of years ago are now being revealed, thanks to CT scanning.

The 1- and 2-month-old woolly mammoth calves, which were discovered in different portions of Siberia, choked on mud after falling into water more than 40,000 years ago, new research suggests.

The mud was like a “really thick batter that they got clogged in their trachea and they were unable to dislodge by coughing,” said study co-author Daniel Fisher, the director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology. “It basically prevented them from taking them another breath.”


The 1-month-old calf mummy, named Lyuba, was discovered in 2007 by a reindeer herder on the banks of a frozen river on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. Lactic acid-producing bacteria had colonized Lyuba’s body, essentially “pickling” her and making her unappetizing to would-be scavengers, Fisher said.

A mammoth-ivory hunter found the second mummy, which researchers named Khroma after the river in Yakutia in which she was found, frozen upright in permafrost. Scavengers — possibly Arctic foxes and ravens — devoured Khroma’s heart and lungs, as well as parts of the trunk and skull, between the time she was discovered in 2008 and the time scientists could retrieve her body, Fisher said.


Live Science

Fisher et al., 2012 provided the following radiometric age estimates for Lyuba:

AMS age estimates for Lyuba, Center for Isotope Research, Groninger University

Sample #14C AgeMaterial dated
GrA-35690 36,690 (+320, -280) Skin
GrA-35859 37,150 (+280, -250) Skin
GrA-41246 41,910 (+550, -450) Bone collagen (rib)
GrA-41861 41,700 (+700, -550) Plant remains from small intestines
Table 1 from Fisher et al., 2012

Lyuba was almost too old to be accurately dated by 14C.

Fisher et., 2012 had this to say about Lyuba’s cause of death:

We do not regard cause of death as a question that is necessarily, or even generally, answerable in studies of fossil material, but in this particular instance, data on the condition of Lyuba’s respiratory tract provide unusual detail. The single most important factor is the distribution of fine-grained vivianite in her bronchial passages. In drowning, inspired air is typically retained until build-up of carbon dioxide triggers a reflex to exhale and gasp for newair. If the body is submerged, this leads to aspiration of a large volume of water
(complete flooding rarely occurs; Edmonds, 1998). If particulate matter, such as the vivianite we are trying to explain, is drawn in with the water, it tends to be distributed throughout much of the lung, especially given the forcefulness of reflexive inhalation. This contrasts markedly with what we see in Lyuba. Following aspiration of water, there may be attempts to clear the airway of fluid, but consciousness is usually lost quickly (Edmonds, 1998). After this, passive flooding may bring some additional particulates into the lung, but the competence of this process for entrainment and transport of sediment is minimal. We have considered the suggestion that the fine-grained vivianite might have been introduced after death by current action, but this process, called “draught filling” (Seilacher, 1971) requires a path for through-going fluid movement (incompatible with the cul-de-sac geometry of the mammalian lung) and thus cannot fill a space completely.

As an alternative to drowning, we propose that Lyuba died of asphyxia or suffocation after forceful, reflexive inhalation of a viscous “mud” composed of the fine-grained vivianite that now occupies her trachea and bronchi. We treat below associated factors that may help to explain circumstances leading to this end, but our central tenet is that there is no force other than the reflexive inhalation of a frantic animal that would be capable of drawing a continuous column of sediment into the airway. If this material had been suspended in a liberal amount of water, it would have been carried more pervasively into peripheral parts of the lung. If that had happened, with sediment or without, we would describe the process as drowning, but if the material being transported is so viscous that it cannot penetrate beyond the bronchi, ending with fatal airway obstruction, then the process is better described as asphyxiation.

Fisher et al., 2012

Subsequent work (Fisher et al., 2014) determined that aspiration of sediment was the most likely cause of death. Khroma appears to have also died from aspirating sediment.

Both Lyuba and Khroma died from aspirating sediment, Lyuba in a lacustrine setting, and Khroma in some
setting that also resulted in a mid-thoracic fracture. Khroma, for example, could have been a victim of a mud flow or an instance of bank collapse that produced this trauma.


While climate and habitat may have been similar for these two animals, the populations to which
they belonged were separated by nearly 5,000 km. In addition, these mammoths clearly differed in geologic age, even if to an extent that is not well constrained.

Fisher et al., 2014

Khroma’s age can only be estimated to be greater than 45 ka.

Her AMS assay returned an ‘‘infinite’’ result, indicating only that her age is greater than 45,000 yrBP.

Fisher et al., 2014


Woolly mammoth ‘autopsy’ provides flesh and blood samples

‘Buttercup’ had at least 8 calves, may have had gallstones
Emily Chung · CBC News · Posted: Nov 26, 2014

A frozen woolly mammoth found with a pool of liquid blood last year in Siberia has undergone the animal version of an autopsy, revealing new information and providing blood and tissue samples that may be used to clone the extinct ancient mammal.

The well-preserved mammoth, nicknamed Buttercup, was discovered buried in the ice on Maily Lyakhovsky Island in May 2013. Researchers were particularly excited to find what looked like liquid blood in pockets of ice under the animal’s belly.


Like a ‘piece of steak’
What remained of the mammoth’s flesh was the highlight. While many mammoths found in permafrost are dried up and mummified, “this was really juicy,” said Herridge, who likened the appearance of the muscle to a “piece of steak — bright red when you cut into the flesh and then as it hit the air, it would go brown.”


CBC News

Grigoriev et al., 2017 determined that Buttercup died approximately 28,600 years ago.

Results of age analysis of the Malolyakhovsky mammoth

Sample #Material dated14C Age
GrA-60021hair28,570 (±150)
GrA-60044bone28,650 (±160)
Table 2 from Grigoriev et al., 2017

While they were not able to determine a likely cause of death, they did estimate that Buttercup was ~50 years old at the time of death, and they were able to determine that she probably became mired in a water-filled depression.

The animal appears to have been trapped in a depression that accommodated about half the body volume. Water was probably already present in this depression and froze, preserving part of the carcass. The carcass remained in excellent condition for thousands of years because the severe climatic conditions of the Arctic islands kept it locked inside almost pure ice that never melted.

Grigoriev et al., 2017


Woolly Mammoth Mummy Yields Well-Preserved Brain
By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe November 07, 2014

The mummified brain of a well-preserved woolly mammoth found in the Siberian permafrost is the only mostly intact mammoth brain known to science, which has been described in a new study.

The mummified carcass of the 39,000-year-old woolly mammoth, which included the brain with folds and blood vessels visible, was found in August 2010 on the Laptev Sea coast near Yukagir, Russia. The mammoth, named Yuka, was 6 to 9 years old when it died, the researchers found.


Live Science

Yuka lived and died near the end of the Kargin interstadial.

According to radiocarbon dating (34,300 + 260/−240 yr BP), the Yuka mammoth lived during the termination of the Kargin Interstadial. The presumed climatic optimum for the Kargin Interstadial in the Laptev Sea region occurred between ca. 44–32 kyr BP (see review in Wetterich et al., 2014).

Rudaya et al.,, 2014

Lost & Found: The Fishhook Mammoth

The Fishhook or Hook Mammoth is a 20,620 +/- 70 BP old woolly mammoth carcass. It was discovered in the estuary of the Upper Taimyra River, Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia, in 1990 and some parts of the carcass were removed in 1990 and 1992. After the site had been flooded for 8 years, it was rediscovered in 2000. In May 2001 the remains were excavated as a part of the CERPOLEX/Mammuthus program “Who or What Killed the Mammoths”. The remaining parts of the carcass, including soft tissue, fur and underfur were exctracted from the frozen ground together with the surrounding sediments to learn more about the environment and the time of death of the Fishhook Mammoth.

Mol et al., 2001

Jarkov Mammoth

This male individual of the woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, died at an age of 47–49 AEY, on the Taimyr Peninsula, ca. 20,380 BP.

Moi et al., 2006

Sopkarga Mammoth

The accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of the mammoth remains at the University of
Georgia, United States (UGAMS12565, 12566, 12567: pelvis, muscles, and wool) and at Groningen
University, the Netherlands (GrA57 723: a fragment of tibia) gave 37,830 ± 160 BP [6].

Since the discovery of the Berezovka mammoth in 1901 [7], it has not been possible to comprehensively
investigate localities containing well-preserved bodies of woolly mammoths in permafrost. The Sopkarga
mammoth presents a rare opportunity for such a study. The geological age of the Sopkarga mammoth is from the Karginsky epoch. The site is located near the studied sections of this interval [3–5]. The Karginsky
interstadial corresponds to the Molotkov Horizon (thermochron) of northeastern Siberia (24,500–48,000 BP). It also regionally correlates with the Middle Valdai interglacial of the Russian Plain, corresponding to the Würm II of Western Europe and marine isotopic stadial-3 (MIS-3) [8].

Maschenko et al., 2014

FYI: Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Dating

In another “first” since the Berezovka mammoth…

For the first time since the discovery of the Berezovka mammoth, a penis could be located on the body of an adult male of M. primigenius. Its position on the mammoth body in situ (along the anterior margin of the pubic bones and lower margin of the ishium) corresponded to the retracted state (Fig. 1b). The penis base was embraced by ligaments occurring immediately below the muscle ring around the anal part of the rectum. The total length of the penis is 980 mm (as measured on May 16, 2013).

Maschenko et al., 2014

Now, that’s some dedicated science!

And that’s all the time I have to dedicate to Pleistocene elephant hunting for now…

If any Immanuel Velikovsky, Charles Hapgood, Randall Carlson and/or Art Bell fans have any actual scientific references to mammoths having been flash-frozen during the Younger Dryas (or whenever), please list them in the comments section. I genuinely did try to find some… I even downloaded a PDF of Worlds in Collision… It’s a HOOT!


American Geological Institute. Dictionary of Geological Terms. Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976.

Fisher, Daniel C., Alexei N. Tikhonov, Pavel A. Kosintsev, Adam N. Rountrey, Bernard Buigues, Johannes van der Plicht. “Anatomy, death, and preservation of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) calf, Yamal Peninsula, northwest Siberia”. Quaternary International. Volume 255, 2012. Pages 94-105. ISSN 1040-6182.

Fisher, D., Shirley, E., Whalen, C., Calamari, Z., Rountrey, A., Tikhonov, A., . . . Lazarev, P. (2014). “X-ray computed tomography of two mammoth calf mummies”. Journal of Paleontology, 88(4), 664-675. doi:10.1666/13-092

Grigoriev, Semyon E., Daniel C. Fisher, Theodor Obadă, Ethan A. Shirley, Adam N. Rountrey, Grigory N. Savvinov, Darima K. Garmaeva, Gavril P. Novgorodov, Maksim Yu. Cheprasov, Sergei E. Vasilev, Artemiy E. Goncharov, Alexey Masharskiy, Viktoriya E. Egorova, Palmira P. Petrova, Eya E. Egorova, Yana A. Akhremenko, Johannes van der Plicht, Alexei A. Galanin, Sergei E. Fedorov, Evgeny V. Ivanov, Alexei N. Tikhonov. “A woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) carcass from Maly Lyakhovsky Island (New Siberian Islands, Russian Federation)”. Quaternary International. Volume 445, 2017. Pages 89-103. ISSN 1040-6182.

Lacombat, Frédéric. (2016). Khroma: Autopsy of a story. Bulletin du Musée d’Anthropologie prehistorique de Monaco. 6. 149-154.

Melles M, Brigham-Grette J, Minyuk PS, Nowaczyk NR, Wennrich V, DeConto RM, Anderson PM, Andreev AA, Coletti A, Cook TL, Haltia-Hovi E, Kukkonen M, Lozhkin AV, Rosén P, Tarasov P, Vogel H, Wagner B. “2.8 million years of Arctic climate change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia”. Science. 2012 Jul 20;337(6092):315-20. doi: 10.1126/science.1222135. Epub 2012 Jun 21. PMID: 22722254.

Mol, D., Tikhonov, A.N., MacPhee, R.D.E., Flemming, C., Buigues,B., De Marliave, C., Coppens, Y., Agenbroad, L.D., 2001b. “The Fishhook Mammoth: rediscovery of a woolly mammoth carcass by the CERPOLEX/Mammuthus Team, Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia”. In: Cavarretta, G., Gioia, P., Mussi, M., Palombo, M.R. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1st International Congress La Terra degli Elefanti/The World of Elephants, Rome, October 16–20, 2001,
pp. 310–313.

Mol, Dick, Alexei Tikhonov, Johannes van der Plicht, Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke, Regis Debruyne, Bas van Geel, Guido van Reenen, Jan Peter Pals, Christian de Marliave, Jelle W.F. Reumer. “Results of the CERPOLEX/Mammuthus Expeditions on the Taimyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia, Russian Federation”. Quaternary International. Volumes 142–143, 2006. Pages 186-202. ISSN 1040-6182.

Rudaya, Natalia., Albert Protopopov, Svetlana Trofimova, Valery Plotnikov, Snezhana Zhilich. “Landscapes of the ‘Yuka’ mammoth habitat: A palaeobotanical approach”. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. Volume 214, 2015. Pages 1-8. ISSN 0034-6667,

Velikovsky, Immanuel (1950). Worlds in Collision, Macmillan. ISBN 1-199-84874-3. Delta printing—January, 1965.

4.5 27 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Clare Swift
July 27, 2021 2:29 am

If what you’re saying is true and I don’t doubt your research then I, for one, am gutted – I loved the whole Ben Davidson, Carlson, Hancock, Cuvier catastrophe idea of mammoths flash frozen because part of the atmosphere blew off. Oh well, I’m off to watch 2012 to cheer myself up.

Richard Page
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 3:01 am

Everyone loves a good myth. It’s the ones that don’t know the difference between myth (or fantasy) and reality that I find disturbing.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 5:57 am

Darryl is insulted by that supposed picture of him. For shame!

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 28, 2021 10:12 am

And his bigfoot brother, Darryl.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 8:31 am

Well the CGIs of LA sliding as big slabs into the Pacific is still a fan favorite. If only…

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 27, 2021 11:07 am

LA uses a special high-strength re-bar for their roads and buildings to resist earthquakes. That is why there are numerous slabs.

[To avoid starting any new myths, I’ll affirm that the above statement is sarcasm.]

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:48 pm

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

Mark Twain

Bill Parsons
Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 12:20 pm

My daily constitutional is a two-mile loop around a reservoir in a suburb of Denver. The lake sits on a hill and when winter winds sweep over it they can cause the surface to harden up in a few days. Several years ago the Canadian geese that overwinter in the area were struggling after an Arctic front moved in, followed by a second. On two consecutive days in December I saw something I’ll never forget.

The first evening I recall the wind was blowing hard and the geese huddled in dark patches and narrowing arteries of open water as the ice coalesced and contracted around them – not solid yet, but turning opaque and hardening. The birds buried their beaks in their back feathers and drifted together.

That night the temperature dropped several more degrees below zero as another wave of the front blew through. By morning, the lake was glazed. Several geese were actually stuck in the ice surface as if they had gone to sleep and woke to find themselves captive. Two birds were flapping their wings in exhaustion, but unable to free themselves. Snow had drifted up along the lake margins where the meandering tracks of predators emerged from the cattails. The coyotes had made a bee-line for the stranded geese. When I arrived, two of the birds had already been dismembered and skeletonized, their feathers trampled around them in a ring like ashes kicked out of a campfire.

A park ranger told me later that some kind of avian flu was moving through our local geese, culling the weakened individuals. So I imagine that might have played a role in this bizarre sight, but since then I have no trouble believing in the expression “flash frozen”. I saw it happen. And it wasn’t just the geese… that ice was several inches thick and it supported my weight just fine as I walked out on it to see the birds firsthand. So…

A frozen mamoth with a mouthful of flowers? Why not?

Reply to  Bill Parsons
July 29, 2021 7:21 am

Because there was not an SUV within 5,000 years of that mammoth.

John Tillman
Reply to  Bill Parsons
July 29, 2021 4:50 pm

Because mammoths are much more massive than geese and don’t live in water.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2021 10:09 am

Not claiming an extinction mechanism. But your post’s examples of individual animals getting “trapped”, possibly because of injury, and then frozen quickly, while a mammoth hyperbole, is not far off. If it if fast enough for the meat to look fresh 20,000 years later, that’s pretty fast.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2021 12:20 pm

“Buttercup” What a name! It’s like that vicious dog in the Harry Potter books – Fuzzy.

Great posts, Dave. Keep up the good work.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 28, 2021 10:14 am

That’s one thing I despise about those movies is all the CGI. Might as well be watching a cartoon.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 5, 2021 5:50 am

Unlike Miami where they can’t even keep a condo together.

pHil R
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 10:19 am

The Blob, only because I used to live in Downingtown, PA and ate at the Downingtown diner (though the one in the movie I don’t think was actually in Downingtown).

Citizen Smith
Reply to  pHil R
July 27, 2021 1:27 pm

FYI, at the end of the movie the Blob was flown to the arctic. It can not be killed, but only put into a sort of suspended animation. If Al Gore is right, the blob will eventually thaw and eat us all. Reconsider your denialism.

Reply to  Citizen Smith
July 28, 2021 10:16 am

The blob — coming INTO a movie theater near you.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 12:05 pm

Where exactly has Graham Hancock, Randall Carlson and Art Bell mention flash frozen mammoths?

I’ve listend to hours of all of them- tthis has never been mentioned…

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Ruleo
July 27, 2021 1:20 pm

I watched Carlson on YouTube tell the story and go into the estimated temperature required to flash freeze that size of body. I think it was in a series of interviews with Hancock by Joe Rogan. I took it as truth until now.

Reply to  Clare Swift
July 27, 2021 3:29 am

Bad science fiction???? How about my favorite bad sci-fi movie of all time: THEM!!!!

Giant ants are found living in the desert, gigantic because they were exposed to atomic radiation during those southwestern desert nuke tests.

Better than “Day of the Trifids” by a country mile…..:)

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 8:17 am


(look it up)

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
July 27, 2021 6:14 pm

From the picture at IMDB, Yor seems to have been one of Darth Vader’s early triumphs. 🙂

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Pat Frank
July 28, 2021 10:40 am

True story—my wife and I saw Yor during its very brief time in the theaters. We wanted to go to a movie, and it was the only one that generated any interest.

It was the first week it was out (turned out to be the only week), and there was a total of about seven people paying to watch, including us.

The opening scene had Yor the hunter running down a big rock, with a club raised toward the sky in one and dressed in animal skins. He had a perfect blow-dried quaff hanging over his ears, and I burst out laughing right there in the theater.

There are also some amusing edit failures involving the female star, Adrianne Barbeau.

Last edited 1 year ago by Carlo, Monte
Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 4:49 am

When Worlds Collide – wealthy man builds two ramp-launched rocket ships to carry scientists, engineers, etc., to the planet approaching Earth. At the last minute, the doors are slammed shut in his face and the rockets launch, and he gets out of his wheelchair. Waahhh! They left him behind, so he doesn’t get to rule this new world!!! The irony of that ending was priceless.

Richard Page
Reply to  Sara
July 27, 2021 5:08 am

YES! Thank you – one of my absolute fave creature features! Atomic testing gave rise to loads of these films – very relevant in a post about myths. Just don’t watch the abysmal modern remake by mistake.

Reply to  Richard Page
July 27, 2021 10:51 am

Atomic testing gave rise to loads of these films

Anyone remember “Crack in the World”?

Reply to  TonyG
July 28, 2021 10:29 am

Original (1953) Invaders from Mars:

Reply to  Richard Page
July 28, 2021 4:51 am

I am waiting for someone, some H’Wood genius to realize that a rubble asteroid approaching Earth could be redirected into a permanent orbit around the Earth, just outside the Moon’s own orbit. What? Anything’s possible these days…..

Reply to  Sara
July 27, 2021 7:19 am

There were two terrible Japanese science fiction movies I remember watching on KCRA/3 and KHSL/12 Creature Features with Bob Wilkins (I grew up in Paradise in the 50s and 60s). Both involved Japanese shipwrecked on an island which radiation had blessed, one with contagious mushrooms (the sailors turned into mushroom people) and the other with giant rats that were nibbling at their feet as they danced around an abandoned house with no floor boards.

Or something like that. They didn’t give us nightmares, but we did leave the light on when we went to sleep because no one wanted to be the one to turn them off and have to get in bed in the dark.

Reply to  Felix
July 27, 2021 9:25 am

ahh … Bob Wilkins and Night Comfort Theatre; the cure for insomnia. Bob had a bedding store, and advertised his wares on his (very rare then) all night (11PM to 5AM?) TV show.

Reply to  Felix
July 28, 2021 4:52 am

Mothra! Much sillier and more fun that Godzilla….

Reply to  Sara
July 29, 2021 10:37 pm

I used to watch the Japanese monster movies every Sunday on Channel 20 (UHF) in Northern Virginia in the early and mid 70s. They were awesome!

Reply to  Sara
July 27, 2021 8:47 am

Who can forget “The Blob”.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  MarkW
July 27, 2021 11:38 am

It was easy.

Reply to  MarkW
July 28, 2021 4:53 am

The original, with Steve McQueen, was priceless. I love stuff like this.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Sara
July 27, 2021 12:54 pm

Wasn’t the gimmick used to defeat the ants some sonic weapon? Providing inspiration for using Cowboy rodeling as the weapon against the martians in Mars Attack?

Reply to  Randle Dewees
July 28, 2021 11:01 am

Hilarious Twilight Zone episode — Mr Frisby, a chronic exaggerator, gets abducted by aliens in a flying saucer and plays his harmonica to stun & defeat them. Afterwards, of course nobody believes him and laughs at his story…

Last edited 1 year ago by beng135
Reply to  Sara
July 28, 2021 8:50 am

Truly bad SF (and not a classic in any way) is Battlefield Earth (L Ron Hubbard)

Silly SF; Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard)

Reply to  Sara
July 28, 2021 10:19 am

THEM scared me silly as a little kid. Then there was another one featuring giant crabs. Then another w/a giant praying mantis.

Last edited 1 year ago by beng135
Bill Powers
Reply to  Sara
July 29, 2021 9:24 am

I recall seeing that in a double feature with “Gorgo” in the early 60s

John Tillman
Reply to  Clare Swift
July 29, 2021 4:45 pm

I don’t think that Cuvier ever imagined flash frozen mammoths.

Here’s a sad angle on the demise of the final, isolated woolies, last of all their genus:

Genomic damage wasn’t the only cause for their decline and fall, with last days around 4000 BP, but probably doomed them no matter what else.

Humans hunted the mainland mammoths to extinction. The insular survivors were to few on too little land to hang on for more than 6000 years, even with long mammoth generations.

July 27, 2021 3:01 am

velikovskys linking of global disaster folklore seemed good to me, so many places with similar stories. and poleshift did/do happen so changed rebuilt temple directions also seems valid

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 7:54 am

David, Why did the CIA classify The Adam and Eve Story by Chan Thomas?


Also, I find it interesting that Einstein wrote the forward to Hapgood’s book on Earth Crust Displacement.

Not that I necessarily believe .any of this stuff but it did get my attention when I read Einstein’s forward.

As a geologist, what do you make of the Piri Reis map of 1513.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Nelson
July 27, 2021 2:03 pm

I find it interesting how you live on conspiracy web pages.

Piri Reis map was very good work for 1513. However, it has many errors including depicting the far east located where NA is, and the mythical southern Antipode continent.

July 27, 2021 3:16 am

Wow, David. That was a lot to take in first thing in the morning.

I think my brian is full.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 27, 2021 4:44 am

My brian is still trying to process the first cup of morning cofete!

Richard Page
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 27, 2021 5:11 am

Did Brian bring the morning coffee then?

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 27, 2021 5:43 am

Well, now I know where my Brian went….. 😉

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 5:56 am

Lets ask Bigus Dickus….

Richard Page
Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 5:58 am

Now you’re being a very naughty boy.

Reply to  Richard Page
July 27, 2021 6:13 am

I’m no Messiah.

Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 8:11 am

And for those wondering what fretslider was talking about we have a clip:


Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 9:28 am

980 mm?

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 27, 2021 12:24 pm

Oh sure. Pick on the old guy for a typo he made before his first hot caffeinated beverage of the morning (he says while smiling). What a tough crowd!


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 27, 2021 1:05 pm

If we can’t have fun with our friends, who are we going to have fun with?

July 27, 2021 3:23 am

Darn I thought you were referring to Edge of Tomorrow as your favorite 🤓

David Kamakaris
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 5:57 am

How about adding Gasland to the list of good bad science fiction movies?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:27 am

My wife and I both loved Edge of Tomorrow. I think we’ve watched it at least 3 times.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 3:16 pm

Yes! Yes! Battleship is great bad science fiction. Did you notice how the bombs dropped on the deck mimicked the pegs from the game?

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
July 27, 2021 10:53 am

I watched it over and over, I lost count how many times 🙂

I saw recently that they’re doing a sequel of sorts: Live, Die, Repeat and Repeat
No, that’s not a joke.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 10:28 pm

Super cyclone a bad bad science fiction movie

Reply to  Derg
July 27, 2021 5:44 am

The original movie titled “The Thing” was not too bad.

Reply to  Derg
July 27, 2021 6:59 am

I was immediately seduced by “Forbidden Planet,” loved the Id Monster concept. Robbie the Robot was also cool, something about intelligent relays clicking.,.,

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  wsbriggs
July 27, 2021 11:24 am

FP received an Oscar for the animated special effects! State of the art for the 1950s.

Reply to  Derg
July 28, 2021 8:35 am

How can anyone forget Sharknado 1 through 7.

paranoid gy
July 27, 2021 3:24 am

And so another favourite conversation piece dies…

Richard Page
Reply to  paranoid gy
July 27, 2021 5:18 am

Oh I doubt it. The true believers will continue regardless, the conspiracy theorists will blame the Russian/American/Whoever government or aliens for hiding the evidence, hoaxers will produce photographs ‘proving’ it actually happened, someone will make a film of it all and then some people will believe the film is actually real. It’ll never go away!

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Page
Ron Long
July 27, 2021 3:51 am

Good report, David. I was a summer geology assistant to Hanna Mining in 1967, and spent a week, living in a dormitory at the university of Alaska, in the Fairbanks flood which totally inundated downtown Fairbanks. One day two geologists and their faithful assistant went to visit a gold placer operation located 50 miles or so north of Fairbanks. The placer used large hydraulic monitors (water cannons) to wash out the placer gold. There was a black soil layer about 20 feet thick on top of the old river gravels which contained the gold. In the black soil layer were many mammoth tusks, and the miners told us they were making more money selling the ivory than extracting gold. Mammoth bones were rarely preserved, but the ivory tusks were remarkably preserved, and some as long as close to 10 feet.

alastair gray
Reply to  Ron Long
July 27, 2021 5:27 am

I have always been told that mammoth tusks occur in huge death assemblages in both Alaska and Siberia. The concentration of so many implied a catastrophic event such as a flash flood – more plausible than a flash cold blast,, and the Younger Dryas seemed as convenient time as any. However I am just passing on hearsay here. I would appreciate any comment on the death assemblage hypothesis

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:16 am

When I access the link, it doesn’t show any accumulations.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:23 am

Thanks, but still all I get are the column headings without any entries.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:36 am

¡Muchísimas gracias!

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 7:34 am

Now that was a funny penguin.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  John Tillman
July 31, 2021 12:48 am

John Tillman : ” When I access the link it doesn’t show any accumulations ” …….” all I get are the column headings without any entries ” The information was visible to you the entire time ….

John Tillman
Reply to  Stuart Hamish
July 31, 2021 4:29 pm

No, it wasn’t.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 10:50 am

I always wondered about that story of the woolly mammoth frozen with a mouth full of butter cups. Thanks for investigating. I first came across it in a paper that had about 50 other odd things listed, postulating a polar calamity occurred . One that I recall was that there were places where beneath the permafrost sediment was all churned up, with leaves down deep and more ancient soil near the top. Anyone else heard of that? Has it been refuted?

One thing I like about oddball theories is that they bring interesting factoids to our attention. Mammoths ate buttercups? They are poisonous and even my goats avoid them. Who knew?

Maybe these factoids launch theories that can’t fly, but it is no crime to have an idea, so long as you don’t mind seeing it go down in flames. Success usually comes after numerous failures. And those failures serve a purpose.

For example, many of Thor Heyerdahl’s ideas have been shot down in flames, but he sure shook up the ossified thought of the anthropological community when he sailed the Kon Tiki from Peru to Polynesia. And they needed it.

One of Winston Churchill’s aids purportedly said, “Winnie had 100 ideas a day, and three were good ones. In other words he had to surround himself with people able to tell him he was wrong, 97 times a day.

the problem with many climate scientists is not that they are wrong, but the can’t stand hearing it. They prefer synchophants to honest men. And counter-culture seeks to ban criticism altogether. It is juvenile. I’d rather be wrong and laugh about my blunder than be a big baby.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 4:34 pm

Flash floods were and are a very likely cause of death en masse for many of the well-documented cases of wildebeest death by suffocation and drowning in large numbers in water… even in the case of simple river crossing.

Next best likely, following,
asteroid impact or atmosphere blow off… or imploding of universe!

Yes mammoths and their babies were equal to what a human and the human babies are!

No way the brilliant baby mammoths of this brilliant species, the mammoths, could have ever likely died by suffocation or drowning in water, unless due to some thing like flash floods, or;
asteroid impacts, or tsunamis or some other exotic fascinating kinda of similar thingy.

Oh well, the mammoth “sword” in the field… most likely came down from the sky, or something like that.


Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 6:13 pm

Yes of course, it is well documented that massive floods and land erosion are far more likely to successfully hit live mammoth herds in the move than courpses of already dead mammoths accumulated for ages in the very massively flooded land.
Yes of course!.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 10:29 am


I do not need your apology, or Mark’s.

But for the sake of clarity.

Don’t you think you may own to apologise to me.
And Mark too?

Just checking!

What do you think!

Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 11:05 am

Does the error in that sentence changes the main subject?

Reply to  whiten
July 28, 2021 11:07 am

Again, I am not asking or expecting any apology from you.

Reply to  whiten
July 28, 2021 11:09 am

Or Mark

Reply to  whiten
July 28, 2021 12:18 pm

Who’s apologizing to you?
I’m sorry I called you an idiot. I thought you already knew.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
Reply to  MarkW
July 28, 2021 12:43 pm

I know you will not believe this.


Your response to me was
Well standing in a proper reason, not at all as a justification… in consideration of your own actions or choices.

You were sincere, in that response to me.
You were sincere to your self and your position.

I am not offended by either your response or David’s.

But as a crackpot that I am, I think Dave reason, the real Dave’s reason is quite eluding.
Maybe I am wrong, and I wish that I am wrong,
but still I consider that David facing some kinda of rejection crisis of responsibility, when it comes to David’s own choices and actions.

Oh well what are the chances that a crackpot being wrong in this one.
Most probably astronomical.

Well hopefully this does not add up to my already committed offence towards both of you.

You both in one way or another were challenged as gutless.

And both your responses showed how wrong I was… in considering you both gutless.


Reply to  David Middleton
July 29, 2021 2:14 pm


Enjoy it, buttercup…

Reply to  whiten
July 27, 2021 7:05 pm

Tsunami’s in the middle of the Russian steppes?

Reply to  MarkW
July 28, 2021 5:03 am

Lots of evidence of flash floods in many, many places, including Siberia, but because it’s “dry land” now, you think it could not/did not ever happen???

Please do NOT ever move to a house near a river basin.

Reply to  Sara
July 28, 2021 8:36 am

A flash flood is not a tsunami.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 27, 2021 5:46 am

So mammoths are just like elephants, who seem to have “graveyards”… No surprise: they are all cousins.

John Tillman
Reply to  Sara
July 27, 2021 6:20 am

Elephants don’t really have graveyards.

Reply to  John Tillman
July 27, 2021 7:19 am

Well, no, not like we do, but they go visit the piles of old bones frequently.

John Tillman
Reply to  Sara
July 29, 2021 2:36 pm

Elephants follow the same migratory paths for generations, so do sometimes encounter the remains of their loved ones who died at various random spots.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 27, 2021 9:36 am

I’m working just north of FB, and tusks sticking out of the perma-frost creek boundary is still a thing. I held the poorly preserved remnants of one last month. It looked like a fire cracker had gone off inside. The tusks are concentric conical layers. The expansion of the inner layers fragmented the outer layers.

And yes, miners make a lot on the tusks, I think around ten grand. But … and this is a big but. Tusks can only be collected from private land or patented mining claims.

Ed Hanley
July 27, 2021 3:54 am

Great research. If Art Bell were still doing Coast to Coast he’d have you on as a guest.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 10:52 am

The two bestest guests on Art Bell were Richard CEEE Hoagland and Major Headgames Ed Dames.

July 27, 2021 4:23 am

a sudden cause” 

And one that leaves the Mammoth apparently uninjured. 

The only really quick way I can think of is suffocation. How likely that might be in the setting of the mammoth I have no idea, but one example I can think of is the Lake Nyos disaster in Cameroon, where a cloud of Carbon dioxide killed 1,700 people in 1986.

There may be other ways, other gases involved even, but it certainly is quick.

Last edited 1 year ago by fretslider
Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 7:35 am

The article detailed at least two cases where the mammoth died due to flash floods.

Reply to  MarkW
July 27, 2021 8:52 am

Which ones?

I missed that!

Reply to  whiten
July 27, 2021 2:58 pm

Mark, has no guts to reply.


Reply to  whiten
July 27, 2021 7:07 pm

I take it then you have absolutely no interest in reading the article that you are responding to, and would rather insult others rather than do the work yourself.

Sheesh, whatever you are smoking, it has rotted your brain.

Shawn Marshall
July 27, 2021 4:38 am

What a Mammoth essay

M Courtney
Reply to  Shawn Marshall
July 27, 2021 6:19 am

It can be summarised as “Frozen Mammoths are a lot of Bull”.

Bruce Ploetz
July 27, 2021 4:44 am

One of L Ron Hubbard’s many lies was that he was served wooly mammoth steak at the Explorer’s Club in New York City. Sometime in the 30s I think. He even claimed that he had the power to rip the atmosphere off of a planet. Wonder why he never used his awesome powers to fix his own teeth….

Reply to  Bruce Ploetz
July 27, 2021 5:15 am

He had the power to start a loony cult

John Endicott
Reply to  Bruce Ploetz
July 27, 2021 8:12 am

Because Xenu liked L Ron’s teeth just the way they were.

Reply to  Bruce Ploetz
July 27, 2021 10:21 pm

The teeth were the source of his power! Wooooooo….

Gotta feel sorry and pity for people getting suckered into a religion invented by a science fiction writer!

Mark Whitney
July 27, 2021 4:52 am

Some myths even appear in college science courses, like the one told by one of my biology professors about a man dying from cyanide poisoning after eating half a cup of apple seeds. Never have seen any documentation to support the story, and I have frequently tested the myth with apple’s cousins apricot and cherry pits.

Adam Gallon
July 27, 2021 5:11 am

If only I’d known the claims of flash-frozen mammoths came from Velikovsky, I could have dismissed them instantly.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 27, 2021 5:58 am

But can you get flash frozen Mammoth in Walmart?

Rory Forbes
Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 12:22 pm

Only at certain locations … and in season.

Richard Page
Reply to  fretslider
July 27, 2021 1:44 pm

It’s Walmart – wouldn’t it just be an Elephant in a toupee?

July 27, 2021 5:12 am

Elephants are surprisingly clumsy. They cannot get out of holes. Google “elephant stuck in mud” for videos. It is easy to understand how a mammoth could be trapped and die in a cold mud hole. If it happens in the fall and that night is cold, it will remain frozen all winter. If that winter is colder than usual, it will end up surrouded by expanding permafrost. Nothing surprising.

Reply to  Manny
July 27, 2021 10:02 am

I visited the mammoth site in S.Dakota years ago. If I remember right–most of the remains were of young males, which to me made sense. Young males are encouraged to leave the the heard early in life, and so are denied the wisdom of the heard matriarchs—thus not being aware that the tasty pond plants the were after for dinner were really a trap they couldn’t escape. I have slept a few times since then, so my memory could be rather suspect

Reply to  John VC
July 27, 2021 10:03 am

wish I knew what the H happened to post my comment in such a crazy form

John Tillman
July 27, 2021 5:45 am

Cuvier used mammoths to confirm the fact of extinction, a controversial hypothesis in 1798. He argued that mammoths were too big to have gone unnoticed if still living, yet their teeth showed them to be a species distinct from extant Asian and African elephants.

Thomas Jefferson clung to the Great Chain of Being theory, in which every living thing had its place, and was perfect, since made by Nature’s God, so couldn’t die off. He thus urged Lewis and Clark to be on the lookout for mammoths and mastodons in the American West.

Subsequent discoveries, such as Mary Anning’s marine reptiles on England’s Jurassic Coast, convinced Jefferson that Cuvier was right. In a letter to Adams, he found a way to reconcile extinction with an omnipotent God.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
July 27, 2021 6:11 am

Make that genus, not species.

Reply to  John Tillman
July 27, 2021 10:24 pm

I don’t see how there would be any problem. It’s obvious to anyone paying attention to what happens in nature that it’s a huge competition.

John Tillman
Reply to  PCman999
July 29, 2021 2:44 pm

Before Cuvier, extinction was thought impossible because made creatures perfectly suited to their environments. Acceptance of the fact of extinction was an important milestone towards the discovery of evolution. It was preceded by realization of the age of the Earth and followed by recognition of “development”, ie that different kinds of living things existed at different times in our planet’s history. Then Darwin, among others discovered biogeographical lineages. All these insights preceded his insights into common descent and natural selection.

Steve Case
July 27, 2021 5:54 am

I didn’t read the 1960 Saturday Evening Post story but my long departed older brother related the details to me. And the part that is missing from the narrative above was that as the Siberian mammoths were flash frozen, those found in Alaska were ripped apart by super hurricane force winds. A huge down burst from the stratosphere was the suspected cause. Dunno, if my brother read that in the Post or some other source, perhaps Scientific American (both came to our house at the time).

That aside, what a fascinating 3600 word opus, thanks for posting.     

Reply to  Steve Case
July 27, 2021 10:14 am

I recall hearing similar said.

Peter Morris
July 27, 2021 6:03 am

Thank you for this.

I’ve heard the claims so often that I just figured it was actual science, but not requiring a catastrophic explanation. I just figured they got caught in blizzards during a migration, and, being stranded, were buried in the ice.

I never realized the claims came from Velikovsky.

July 27, 2021 6:56 am

Interesting; and I’ll go with it. Still, I was reminded of Solzhenitsyn’s story in The Gulag Archipelago how the zeks found a frozen mammoth in the tundra, but before the scientists could get there, the prisoners had eaten it.
Of course, those zeks were hungry and used to rotten meals.

John Endicott
July 27, 2021 8:16 am

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”

Dr. Phono Phons
Reply to  John Endicott
July 27, 2021 8:42 am

The Mammoth died instantly of a heart attack by eating to much butter?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Dr. Phono Phons
July 27, 2021 11:34 am

A cup is not very much. They must have had a genetic sensitivity to butter.

Len Werner
July 27, 2021 8:43 am

We must always be careful of accepting published age dates as gospel; the exercise requires a scientifically-intense multi-step process involving an almost-magic machine (mass spectrometer) requiring a lot of expertise in making it run properly and return good data. Not everyone runs them extremely well. It should be accepted as normal scientific evolution that some of these dates may change, but for now of course they are all we have.

During my graduate work I did all my own age dating, I would not turn the exercise over to the department technician; this forced me to become quite conversant with all the processes as I did them. I have seen some quite unscientific operation of a mass spectrometer that resulted in dates that should never have been published, and many of which have had to be subsequently changed when the errors were discovered after that technician left.

This is not in any way a criticism of any of Dave’s work, just a warning that dates always have the potential to change. Non-geologists are not always as aware of the limits of this technology, such as 50,000 years being an upper limit of carbon dating, and why.

But it came too late. I used to argue with my (non geologist) father about Velikovsky and could have used this to finally behead that sudden-pole-shifting monster once and for all if I had this article to refer to. But those arguments occurred long before Dad was the age that I am now.

Dave also points out (and followed) one of the most important aspects of proper research of this type–when researching something always go all the way back to the original source; never stop at someone quoting the source. If everyone did that they would realize, for example, that Wegener discovered nothing new; I have found the suggestion of continental drift in scientific publications as early as 1874. Scientific thought was quite naturally stimulated to consider the idea immediately following the sounding-derived discovery of the mid-Atlantic ridge. But it still took a lot more research to prove it was happening, the discovery of ocean-floor ‘magnetic striping’ being the clincher. To say that Alfred Wegener discovered continental drift is to say that Christopher Columbus discovered North America; both are as much myths as are flash-frozen mammoths and suicidal lemmings and walrus.

Richard Page
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 1:50 pm

It’s not a process that gives answers with fine precision but, as you rightly point out, there are ways of gaining a little bit more accuracy.

John Larson
Reply to  David Middleton
July 27, 2021 2:38 pm

Wouldn’t the ostensible accuracy of C14 dates be predicated on the level(/nature?) of cosmic rays interacting with atmospheric nitrogen having been constant throughout the timespans involved?

Reply to  Len Werner
July 27, 2021 6:30 pm

It is not only difficult to get good results from the magic machine, but interpreting the results is harder. Carbon 14 varies in the atmosphere depending on cosmic rays and cosmic ray conditions depend on the suns activity and the earth’s magnet field at the time. So it is a bit of a guess for the level of C14 at the time these animals lived.

Reply to  GTB
July 28, 2021 8:42 am

C14 calibration curves have been around for almost as long as the C14 method of dating has been.
They are created by analyzing finds that have already been dated using other methods. From that you can work backwards to determine the levels of C14 in the atmosphere at the time the sample was alive.

Len Werner
Reply to  MarkW
July 28, 2021 6:50 pm

Everyone is theoretically absolutely correct if possibly a bit incomplete. Error bars are normally determined by the theoretical considerations stated but–

How well was the sample chamber cover tightened down to get the gold ring to seal? Geology students who have rebuilt car engines are actually better at that process than technicians who have not–they understand the benefit of more torque sequences (I was always able to attain about 2 orders of magnitude better vacuum than most due to that simple experience–10^-7 torr).

How well was the evacuation pumping performed, in that there is a progressive and time-costly sequencing of pumps from mechanical piston, to mercury diffusion, to Vacsorb, to ion pumps, and finally a ‘cold finger’. Was the liquid nitrogen in the cold finger or Vacsorb ever allowed to get low during the run?

How long was the run continued?–counting statistics normally improve with more runs through the cycles that the mass spec is programmed to run through. How well by magnet flux was each ion beam centered on the Farady cup? How stable was the magnet control circuitry?

These factors affect the accuracy of the result, but the effect that all had on the actual ratio determined is dumped in the waste basket and destroyed once the run on the mass spec is completed and the counting statistics printed out. How good the number is that ends up used in the probability calculation actually can be lost.

And that doesn’t even get into how well the sample was collected, whether contamination entered during processing, how well ion exchange column separations were performed…

Gee I hope that brought back memories for some others; it was a lot of fun.

July 27, 2021 8:56 am

I remember being a bit intrigued by this myth when I read about how it could be explained by some catastrophic tectonic plate rupture that shot water into outer space and the resulting boulders of ice came right back down and killed mammoths instantly, including breaking lots of mammoth femurs. It was an interesting work of fiction that I could have written myself before getting out of bed. Last seen on a creationist site …. and no, still zero evidence of any mammoths having broken femurs. What’s this myth doing on a climate change site …. oh, hold on a sec.

Hey, but on the movies – there are whole episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Youtube. For example, Terror From the Year 5000:

Michael S. Kelly
July 27, 2021 9:37 am

Excellent post! I’ve wondered about the frozen mammoth stories on occasion, but only casually searched for information. I really appreciate the work you put into this, and the wealth of information you turned up.

July 27, 2021 10:12 am

Thanks for setting the record straight.

Clyde Spencer
July 27, 2021 11:02 am

I found the reference to vivianite mud to be interesting. [ ] Phosphate minerals are not all that common. However, I have read of vivianite crystals developed in cracks in the tusks of mammoths washed out of alluvial gold deposits in Alaska.

This leads me to wonder if phosphorus was extracted from the body of the mammoth and adsorbed by clays in the mud lodged in the throat and lungs of the animal, after death.

Human flesh, particularly on extremities, will freeze immediately upon exposure to air in environments that are very cold, such as Winter in the Arctic. However, I’m sure that it would take several hours for the core temperature to reach air temperature if the person died from exposure. However, we are talking about creatures adapted to living in such cold temperatures, with masses much larger than humans.

I ran across some pictures on YouTube that purport to be dogs and Arctic foxes ‘flash frozen’ standing upright. Again, these are animals superbly adapted to cold weather and with the common sense to curl up or burrow into the snow if it gets really cold. I don’t believe the claims associated with the pictures! More likely they are typical YouTube ‘click bait.’

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 27, 2021 1:37 pm

Even “flash frozen” meets takes a minute or more to freeze.
Something the size of a mammoth, even if exposed to absolute zero, would still take several minutes for the cold to penetrate all the way to the core.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
July 27, 2021 2:34 pm

I presume you meant “meats.”

How does one get absolute zero on the surface of the Earth outside of a laboratory? I think it unlikely that something the size of a mammoth could be ‘flash’ frozen.

I understand that the life expectancy of someone going overboard without a environmental suit (at least a thick wet-suit, or preferably a heated dry-suit) is about 2 minutes in 28 deg F seawater. The muscles cease to work and one drowns well before becoming frozen. I find it very difficult to believe that well-adapted, large animals could be flash frozen naturally.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 28, 2021 6:54 am

This whole article raises a basic question: just what would it take to freeze an animal the size of a mammoth in such a short time? The conditions needed could not have existed naturally at the time, and I doubt NASA has an envioronmental test chamber big enough to try it on an elephant. The temperatures needed only exist outside our atmosphere.

Reply to  MarkW
July 27, 2021 10:45 pm

Our little poodle got flash frozen after being taken for a walk on new year’s eve (a bad idea) then running away after the fireworks went off..

It was a nice fresh URAL -30C that eve. The little thing clearly ran and ran until it ran out of energy.
How long it took to freeze I dunno, we didn’t C14 date it.

So, Russian new year parties made the mammoths freeze up.

A little bit of mammoth ivory is stuck on the end of my violin bow as a souvenir.
(elephant is now forbidden!)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  pigs_in_space
July 28, 2021 12:47 pm

Was your poodle found in an upright-standing position as some of the Russian YouTube photos claim for dogs and foxes?

Randle Dewees
July 27, 2021 1:05 pm

Ok, since everyone threw out their favorite bad science fiction movie, mine is “Journey To The Center Of The Earth”. The 1959 one with James Mason, Arlene Dahl, and Pat Boone. Several geologist references in it, and I think the whole Jules Verne concept is so preposterous.

Richard Page
Reply to  Randle Dewees
July 27, 2021 1:57 pm

The hollow earth theory was a widely held scientific idea at one time. It’s preposterous now but disproving those preposterous ideas is how we expand our understanding of the universe.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Randle Dewees
July 27, 2021 3:10 pm

Why were they not weightless at the center of the earth?

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
July 28, 2021 8:44 am

They were using one of those Star Trek gravity generators.

July 27, 2021 5:46 pm

Great Post. Great fun.
After all those bad Sci-fi movies, how about a great one.
I refer of course to “The Day the Earth Stood Still”(1951)with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.
The re-make in 2006 with Keanu Reeves was good but could not top the original.
“Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto!”

July 27, 2021 7:53 pm

” Most “Mammoths carbon dated to 20,000 years before the present.How many have been discovered carbon dated to the time of the YD (+/-) 1000 years?

July 28, 2021 12:15 am

Can mammoths survive the current climate conditions in Siberia and Alaska?

Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 5:46 am

I can imagine they can live there in summer with long sun hours but in winter when days are short and cold where would they find the food for that big body. Would the fat reserves be enough or would all those herds move south ?

Reply to  David Middleton
July 28, 2021 1:41 pm

“Reconstruction of Arctic vegetation from permafrost
We collected 242 sediment samples from 21 sites across the Arctic”

All these sides is where we today find our landmass . During the LGM sea level was a lot lower and most mammoths most certainly would have been found there in summer because it would be warmer thanks to a higher atmospheric pressure and 24 hours of sunlight.
The plants examined in this study would have been eaten by the animals on their annual migration to winter camp or summer camp.

Do we have any idea if there ever has been glacier formation and an ice pack over Siberia during the ongoing 3.5 Ma old Ice Age ?

John Tillman
Reply to  Robertvd
July 29, 2021 2:52 pm

During glaciations, habitats get constricted. Woollies were adapted to the mammoth steppe-tundra, are now practically extinct biome. Before human hunters, they could find refugia or move onto grasslands to compete with steppe mammoths and their relatives in North America, the Columbia and Imperial mammoths.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2021 4:31 pm

Definitely humans in both Eurasia and North America, who didn’t apply pressure during the Eemian and previous deglaciations.

July 28, 2021 7:52 pm

I read about that flash frozen mammoth with food in it’s belly back in grade school, late 1950s.

mammoth had been frozen so quickly that its last meal of buttercups were still freshly in bloom in its mouth. “Upon the [tongue] and between the teeth, were portions of the animal’s last meal, which for some incomprehensible reason it had not had time to swallow.”

Buttercups are of the Ranunculaceae family, same as monkshoods and delphiniums.

The whole plant is toxic to livestock. Cursed crowfoot (R. sceleratus) is reported to be one of the most toxic6. The toxic component is an acrid volatile substance called anemoral and an irritant called protoanemonin, which is also reported to be a plant produced anibiotic6, 7. All buttercups have various amounts of these or related compounds. Symptoms of poisoning are drooling, diarrhea, increased heart rate, behavior changes such as weakness and depression, bleeding, and convulsions”

It’s no wonder the poor critter got confused and fell into a mud pit.

“this was really juicy,” said Herridge, who likened the appearance of the muscle to a “piece of steak — bright red when you cut into the flesh and then as it hit the air, it would go brown.”

Odd. That is opposite to how fresh meat and reacts.
The meat and blood are red because they are exposed to oxygen.
Many meats nowadays are vacuum or plastic wrapped denying the meat access to oxygen yet leave the meat exposed to light. It then turns brown.

%d bloggers like this: