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Flash Frozen? Siberian Baby Raises Old Questions

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 10th, 2007

Baby Mammoth

Fifty years ago, Bernard Heuvelmans collected and published reports of modern sightings of supposedly extinct mammoths seen alive today, in the boreal forests of Siberia. Thoughts that mammoths had survived probably stemmed from finds of extremely fresh specimens thawing out of the tundra’s permafrost.

Two questions, one cryptozoological and the other Fortean, nevertheless, are raised whenever there is new talk of such discoveries:

(1) Did these mammoths live during contemporary times with modern humans, as discussed by Heuvelmans and others?

(2) Were they frozen in a quick “flash freeze” incident, as first noted by Ivan T. Sanderson? In Sanderson’s 1960 Saturday Evening Post article, “Riddle of the Frozen Giants,” he wrote of his catastrophic astronomical theory to explain the frozen mammoths and frozen wooly rhinos. You will find that Sanderson’s claims were debunked because, among other items, mammoths were said to have rotten before they froze. Out of disfavor today, will future climatic studies find evidence for such events, in terms of Sanderson’s theory? Are new findings that the rotting happened as the permafrost was thawing and before the discoveries were made, assist with bringing Sanderson’s notions about frozen Pleistocene megafauna, into new critical review? And what can we learn from this new 2007 discovery?

Mammoth

An archival drawing of a mammoth.

Breaking news now comes of not a “decaying frozen mammoth” rotting in the tundra’s permafrost and being eaten by dogs, but of a baby, (see photo at top) said to be the “best preserved specimen of its type.”

The BBC News has published the following, which I have edited to remove the general background information on mammoths (available with the original article, see url below):

A baby mammoth unearthed in the permafrost of north-west Siberia could be the best preserved specimen of its type, scientists have said. The frozen carcass is to be sent to Japan for detailed study.

The six-month-old female calf was discovered on the Yamal peninsula of Russia and is thought to have died 10,000 years ago. The animal’s trunk and eyes are still intact and some of its fur remains on the body. In terms of its state of preservation, this is the world’s most valuable discovery.

* * *

The 130cm (4ft 3ins) tall, 50kg Siberian specimen dates to the end of the last Ice Age, when the great beasts were vanishing from the planet. It was discovered by a reindeer herder in May this year. Yuri Khudi stumbled across the carcass near the Yuribei River, in Russia’s Yamal-Nenets autonomous district.

Last week, an international delegation of experts convened in the town of Salekhard, near the discovery site, to carry out a preliminary examination of the animal.

“The mammoth has no defects except that its tail was bit off,” said Alexei Tikhonov, vice director of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the delegation. “In terms of its state of preservation, this is the world’s most valuable discovery,” he said.

Larry Agenbroad, director of the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs research centre in South Dakota, US, said: “To find a juvenile mammoth in any condition is extremely rare.” Dr Agenbroad added that he knew of only three other examples.

Some scientists hold out hope that well preserved sperm or other cells containing viable DNA could be used to resurrect the mammoth.

Despite the inherent difficulties, Dr Agenbroad remains optimistic about the potential for cloning.

“When we got the Jarkov mammoth [found frozen in Taimyr, Siberia, in 1997], the geneticists told me: ‘if you can get us good DNA, we’ll have a baby mammoth for you in 22 months’,” he told BBC News. That specimen failed to yield DNA of sufficient quality, but some researchers believe it may only be a matter of time until the right find emerges from Siberia.

* * * 8

Dr Agenbroad warned that scientifically valuable Siberian mammoth specimens were being lost to a lucrative trade in ivory, skin, hair and other body parts. The city of Yakutsk in Russia’s far east forms the hub for this trade. Local people are scouring the Siberian permafrost for remains to sell on, and, according to Dr Agenbroad, more carcasses could be falling into the hands of dealers than are finding their way to scientists.

“These products are primarily for collectors and it is usually illicit,” he explained. “Originally it was for ivory, now it is everything. You can now go on almost any fossil marketing website and find mammoth hair for $50 an inch. It has grown beyond anyone’s imagination.” Dr Agenbroad added: “Russia says that any mammoth remains are the property of the Russian government, but nobody really pays attention to that.”

The Yamal mammoth is expected to be transferred to Jikei University in Tokyo, Japan, later this year. A team led by Professor Naoki Suzuki will carry out an extensive study of the carcass, including CT scans of its internal organs.

Mammoths first appeared in the Pliocene Epoch, 4.8 million years ago. What caused their widespread disappearance at the end of the last Ice Age remains unclear; but climate change, overkill by human hunters, or a combination of both could have been to blame. One population of mammoths lived on in isolation on Russia’s remote Wrangel Island until about 5,000 years ago.-by Paul Rincon, Science reporter, BBC News “Baby mammoth discovery unveiled,”
Tuesday, 10 July 2007.

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


23 Responses to “Flash Frozen? Siberian Baby Raises Old Questions”

  1. daledrinnon responds:

    This is a classic case. Millions of creatures died simultaneously in this event and dates are very closely within a bean curve of 11,000 to 10,000 years ago in a staggering number of these.

    Thanks for the posting, few people are aware of the magnitude of thie extinction event.

  2. cor2879 responds:

    I hope that there might be a few mammoths still kicking around out there. Their natural habitat is just so remote and inhospitable for humans that it’s not impossible, even if it is unlikely.

  3. showme responds:

    Incredible. Thank god it fell into the right hands.

  4. Quacker1 responds:

    I’m surprised that such a sensitive part such as the eyes are still intact. Maybe this youngster can yield some viable DNA for cloning. I’d love to take my kids to the zoo in 2025 and show them a living mammoth!

  5. halcyonicWV responds:

    This is fascinating. I hope they find DNA of the calibur they require.

  6. greenmartian2007 responds:

    Loren, you forgot another classic that talks about Mammoths being alive during the modern era…more accessible than Heuvelmans…

    Robert Silverberg’s “Mammoths, Mastodons and Man”…published by McGraw-Hill in 1970…

    Turn to pages 184-186….

    1581 there was a report..Cossacks moving east of the Urals…first large creature that they saw was “a hairy elephant”…

    Also, the 1920 report also…perhaps in the 1916-1917 time frame…told to French diplomat Gallon…

    “The Truth is Out There”…

    And wasn’t there a news-story of finding miniature mammoths on some island in the Arctic section? That appeared to be dated to less than 15,000 years old? Can someone locate that?

  7. daledrinnon responds:

    Living Mammoths: the two reports were also specifically noted by Heuvelmans, the latter is even the main one that he discusses.

  8. daledrinnon responds:

    Miniture Mammoths: that was Wrangel Island, and they survived up until about 1500 BC by radiocarbon dating. The dwarfed population was recent (Holocene, Post-ice age)

  9. raisinsofwrath responds:

    Bringing a baby Mammoth into the world may be great for study but IMO should be left alone.

    What are they going to do make babies to stock zoo’s? Are they going to reintroduce them into the wild to disrupt an already fragile ecosystem that has evolved into a state that may not support this reintroduction. Or maybe just to let rich guys (not real sportsmen) hunt them to extinction again?

    Yea, study the preserved animal but leave creation to the Creator.

  10. mjmurphy responds:

    There was a dwarf mammel population on Wrangel Island in the Arctic that existed until about 2000 BC. Whether there were people up there to see them is another story.

  11. mystery_man responds:

    There is a fascinating scientific project underway right now in Northeast Siberia called “Pleistocene Park”, which aims to recreate a dry, Northern grassland ecosystem maintained by large herbivores such as the mammoth similar to that which existed 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. Bison, horses, muskoxen, caribou, and moose are all to be introduced to the area as these types of animals, along with mammoths, were important for maintaining a Northern steppe grassland ecosystem. If there is success, then smaller animals are to be reintroduced and ultimately large predators such as the Siberian tiger. This project would re establish the grassland ecosystem of this area, which was once one of the world’s largest biomes.

    This project could not only shed more light on how Pleistocene animals shaped the ecosystem and how it was affected by climate change, but it could also provide a venue for the possible reintroduction of the mammoth. There are some interesting theories by those behind this project about what effects the environment actually had on the Pleistocene grassland ecosystem, as well as the impact of humans during that time, so I am very interested in what comes of this experiment.

  12. dogu4 responds:

    Right on! mystery man. I’m totally in favor of this and other pleistocene mammals being return to our current workable habitat. Of course, the remnant of the mammoth steppes in Siberia is tiny and will remain so until this current interglacial period, global warming and all, returns to the more typical climate pattern as determined by geographical proximity, planetary circulation and insolation.
    There are currently a number of “re-wilding” projects being considered here in North Americal (google Josh Donlan), even using modern asian elephants as surrogates but to see the legendary “mountain of meat”, the “5 legged bear” trundling across the tundra has been a dream and inspiration for me for a long time. I wish ‘em luck. The emminent Dr Ross McPhee of the American Museum of Nat’l Hist was recently quoted as suggesting that in 10 years successful genetic cloning and carefull cross breeding could bring it back….what an amazing modren time we live-in.

  13. Mothmanfan responds:

    that would be cool if they did “clone” a mammoth, but sooner or later, like other aimals, they are going to be mouned on the wall, tusks torn off and they are going to die out once again.

  14. Tengu responds:

    They have been talking such things for decades, nothing has come of it….yet.

    The inuit have a legend of a big hairy beast like a bigger musk ox but with walrus tusks…but are they talking of a living thing or a dead one they found in the tundra? Though siberian inuit today are coastal dwellers, they have good contacts with inland tribes and certainly frozen mammoths have also been found in alaska.

  15. mystery_man responds:

    Dogu4- One of the men behind the “Pleistocene Park” project, Sergey A. Zimov, maintains that the climate is just fine at this point for a reintroduction of a grassland ecosystem. According to an essay he wrote on the topic, by many criteria, the present climate in Siberia is not humid at all, but indeed rather a climate characteristic of an arid steppe. Apparently annual radiation input is around twice what is needed to evaporate precipitation, so the question is why Siberia is no longer dominated by a steppe landscape. Zimov maintains that in Northern Siberia, plains that were once only covered by a small portion of mammoth steppe soils now occupy suitably vast areas and that the territory is near optimal for such an ecosystem.

    The whole question of climate is an interesting one, because the shift from the cold, arid climate of the Pleistocene to the humid one of the Holocene was not a unique one. This sort of transition had happened before during previous interglacial periods without causing catastrophic landscape reconfigurations. This is one of the arguments being presented against climate change as an end all be all cause for the disappearance of the grassland system.

    I read a very interesting paper on this, and it seems one of the main things that needs to be done is to reintroduce enough large herbivores to disrupt the mosses that dominate the landscape there and maintain a healthy grassy ecosystem. One of Zimov’s theories was that the disappearance of the herbivores, which enable the grasslands to thrive and play an integral part in this habitat, had as much of an impact on the downfall of the grassland ecosystem as climate change did. So in theory, reintroducing these herds of herbivores will help kick start a steppe grassland system again. I really am eager to see what becomes of the project and how these theories pan out. Can you imagine a plain dominated by herds of grazing mammoths and other megafauna of the age? It sure would be a magnificent sight.

  16. dogu4 responds:

    Mystery Man…thanks for you insight. Very interesting to me and appreciate the perspective on massive ecosystem change. I have heard some of that in the past and this find will no doubt prompt me to delve more deeply.
    Regarding the North American Re-Wilding project, as in Siberia, there linger species of plants in the US Southwest and Mexico whose presence and survival in today’s ecosytem is hard to understand unless their seeds were dispersed via the gut of large herbivores like mammoths or sloths or even tortoises. Re-introducing these keystone species’ modern though absent affiliates will alter today’s system and enhance its carrying capacity by providing niches and strategies that currently aren’t functioning in todays impoverished less-well-adapted inventory of species.
    Don’t know if anyone else noticed or not but a close look at the trunk of this young mammoth indicates a particular process at the trunk’s distal end which has been observed before but not much commented on. It creates a kind of scoop at the trunk’s end which I’d heard was thought to act as a kind of squeegee to collect the scarce moisture in frost that would accumulate on the plants and the animals fur, since available water, particularly in winter would be very very scarce. I wonder if this specimen will provide some insight into other specialized adaptations. Cheers.

  17. CryptoInformant responds:

    The idea that we have no right to bring the mammoth back is ridiculous. We pushed it to the edge of extinction and sent it toppling over. This is just like the case on cloning the Thylacine. We owe it to the ecosystem to restore vital components. It amazes me that some people think there is a “Don’t Touch” sign on the universe, when in fact the only restrictions are those we set for ourselves. Thus, it is in the best interests of life that we return some of the lost biodiversity. There is currently talk of terraforming Mars, which I think should be done with genetically engineered organisms, possibly based on the fragments of dinosaur DNA and RNA that have been found, and will continue to be found.

  18. greenmartian2007 responds:

    I have found an on-line article to the Wrangel materials.

    Here is the URL link:

    http://www.radiocarbon.org/Journal/v37n1/vartanyan.html

    I also didn’t know this, but the Russian paper has stated that there are five different forms of Mammoth in the permafrost region.

    The youngest materials were about 2000 BC. And others ranging up to 6200 BC and 10,000 BC.

    The Pyramids were rising, and the mini-mammoths were trumpeting. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  19. groovydude responds:

    Now this is good stuff, thanks for posting and please more along these lines (ie legit) and less lame bigfoot ‘videos’.

    Hmmm, a massive extinction event 10000 years ago. I don’t know, uh, where I’ve heard that before.

  20. Bob Michaels responds:

    Bring back the Megafauna to the plains of North America. Restore the vast herds of Pronghorn and Bison and their natural predators. Reintroduce the Tarpan (Konick horse) and the Mammoth’s closest relative, the Indian elephant. Bring back the Auroch through selective breeding (Heck’s Cattle). Use every method, cloning, selective breeding, similar fauna to create a Pleistocene West in N.A.

  21. Oris Bracken responds:

    Fascinating photos! Flash freeze theory was promoted by Immanuel Velikovsky in books, Worlds in Collision and Earth in Upheaval, early 1950s. Back when catastrophe theory was considered bunk.

    Head’s up, new software that will likely pollute the Web with all sorts of strange creatures. -: Web Photos Now Have Zero Credibility

    Best to all at Cryptomundo from Room322.com

  22. Rillo777 responds:

    I’m going to agree with you, Raisins. I think they would be disruptive to an eco system that’s learned to live without them. What life they would have would not be realistic to their time due to the intervention and close study by man.

    Instinct aside, behaviours would be different from their ancestors due to a changed environment and their life would be about as realistic as a zoo creature born in captivity.

    There is probably nothing we could learn about them that we couldn’t know by studying their remains.

    And the big question I have is: would the reintroduction of the species drive another into extinction through competition?

    I believe it is speculation that man was solely responsible for their demise as seems to be the general consensus.

    Best to leave well enough alone.

  23. question_dogma responds:

    There is a way that the mammoths along with other species and fauna could have been flash frozen while at the same time being the cause for orogenesis and the many flood accounts from many different early cultures.

    The rings of Saturn give a good idea as to what could be the cause for the ice age. Almost all of the rings of Saturn are easily within the Roche limit and could be the remains of a body of ice that came from the deeper regions of space which got caught by Saturn’s gravity and fragmented.

    The same model could be used for a sudden freezing of the magnetic poles of the earth in the not too distant past. If a mass of ice made 1 or 2 passes around thc Earth before fragmenting inside the Roche limit and supposing it was of sufficient mass it could have created massive tides on the planet in all three of the fluids of which our planet is composed. The fluid atmosphere, the fluid oceans and the fluid magma all would have been equally affected. The crust of the earth would have been tortured by the tides contained within. This could be the orogenesis of our mountain ranges. Not only of the Earth but also of our own satellite. The flood would have been tidal in nature with the oceans being pulled up out of their basins and bearing up the Ark so as to deposit it in mountains rather then washing it out to the sea as would have been the effect of a flood caused by rainfall only. And the rains would have been caused by the sudden introduction of super cooled ice (-200f) being dumped on the magnetic poles of the earth.

    If you examine the story of Genesis one can see that the earth was originally said to have been covered by a canopy much as Venus is. The temperature contained within the canopy because of our placement from the Sun was such that the dew point was reached by only a few degrees of change. Hence the concept that a mist and not rain watered the earth before this catastrophe. When the ice was introduced to the planet it changed the entire climate of the planet and has been warming back up ever since that time. All of this occurring sometime around 2800 BC.

    One other little bit of trivia. This model could also explain why there are Ice Caves in Washington State here in the USA. There is one cave that is sandwiched in-between layers of magma and has formed a cave by melting for the past 4800 or so years. There is another cave that is reported to have been followed by spelunkers for over 7000 feet without finding the end of the cave yet.



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