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Alaskan Governor Describes Mastodon Herds

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 17th, 2008

The Portland Press [of Portland, Maine] of November 28 [1896] publishes a long conversation with Col. C. F. Fowler, late of the Alaskan Fur and Commercial company, in which he gives very clear evidence that in the interior of Alaska many mastodons still survive. He first discovered among some “fossil” ivory collected by the natives two tusks which showed evidence of being recently taken from the animal which carried them.

On questioning the native who sold it to him he was surprised to receive a full description of the immense beast which had been killed by the natives, a description fully identifying the animal with the mastodon.

Col. Fowler quotes Gov. Swineford, of Alaska, as having also investigated this matter and as being satisfied that on the high plateaus of that country large herds of mastodons still roam unmolested by the natives, who fear them greatly.

The Alaska News also admits that the evidence of their existence is too strong to be denied.”

Source: Portland Press. “Do Mastodons Exist? – Good evidence that at least one species still lives.” Decatur Daily Republican. Decatur, Illinois. Monday, March 29, 1897. (Credit: Denny Gayton, T. Peter Park)

About Loren Coleman
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.


20 Responses to “Alaskan Governor Describes Mastodon Herds”

  1. busterggi responds:

    Somehow I don’t think huge herds of mammoths still roam Alaska.

    Siberians also told such tales and these were based soley on frozen carcasses, no reason Alaskans couldn’t do the same.

  2. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    Well Alaska is the biggest and largely unpopulated state I don’t see why these creatures couldn’t have survived there. We know that elephants can go unoticed in jungles why couldn’t mastodons in a remote part of the state have surived? Interesting article it makes you wonder that if they were there 100 years ago, could they possibly still be hiding unmolested in a remote part of the state? With new species being discovered and rediscovered all the time I wouldn’t be surprised if a herd was tucked away in the vastness of Alska.

  3. ETxArtist responds:

    Even the musk ox has been eradicated from the state. The only ones remaining in Alaska are at a breeding facility (I’ve been there, it’s very interesting). Also, I doubt that there are many areas not flown over by small, private planes on a regular basis- Alaskans use them all the time to get around since there aren’t many roads away from the main highways. If you’re in Anchorage in the summertime you’ll see one take off about every ten minutes. Plus, there is a huge military base near Fairbanks (driven through it, the number of planes parked on the runways was impressive)- I bet there’s not one square foot of Alaska that hasn’t been photographed by the military. Sure, Alaska is vast, but it’s not unexplored, and none of it is covered with thick jungles- just pine forests, glaciers and tundra, none of which would hide a giant mammal too well.

  4. fmurphy1970 responds:

    If an 8 to 10ft primate such as sasuqatch can hide in the vast forests of the Pacific North West, then it is possible that other mammals could remain hidden up there. My only caution would be that this is not a direct eye witness account, but a second hand account. If there are first hand documented eye witness accounts, then the case for mastodons in Alaska would certainly be much stronger.

  5. ShefZ28 responds:

    You would need a lot of space and food to keep a Mastodon herd hidden.

  6. greywolf responds:

    Unless they have evolved very quickly to handle the extreme cold I have my doubts..I would agree that a tusk pulled from a frozen animal when thawed could look fresh back in the 1800 era.

  7. red_pill_junkie responds:

    By ‘mastodon’, did they really mean ‘mammoth’? I don’t know, the idea of living mammoths is really cool, but if they still existed today, my bet would be in the Siberian tundra instead of Alaska.

  8. Cryptoraptor responds:

    I believe I had read that Mastodons had survived in Alaska until as recently at 3000 years ago.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    A summary for folks of some accepted knowledge regarding some questions raised here:

    Mastodons or Mastodonts (meaning “nipple-teeth”) are members of the extinct genus Mammut of the order Proboscidea and form the family Mammutidae; they resembled, but were distinct from, the woolly mammoth which belongs to the family Elephantidae. Mastodons were browsers and mammoths were grazers.

    Mastodons are thought to have first appeared almost four million years ago. They were native to both Eurasia and North America but the Eurasian species Mammut borsoni died out approximately three million years ago – fossils having been found in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and northern Greece. Mammut americanum disappeared from North America about 10,000 years ago, at the same time as most other Pleistocene megafauna.

    The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), also called the tundra mammoth, is an extinct species of mammoth. This animal is known from bones and frozen carcasses from northern North America and northern Eurasia with the best preserved carcasses in Siberia. They were derived from steppe mammoths (Mammuthus trogontherii).

    A small population of woolly mammoths survived on St. Paul Island, Alaska, up until 6000 BC, while another remained on Wrangel Island, located in the Arctic Ocean, up until 1700 BC. The Wrangel Island mammoths should not be confused with the Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth, Mammuthus exilis, which was a different species.

    While mastodons were furry like woolly mammoths and similar in height at roughly three meters at the shoulder, the resemblance was superficial. They differed from mammoths primarily in the blunt, conical, nipple-like projections on the crowns of their molars, which were more suited to chewing leaves than the high-crowned teeth mammoths used for grazing; the name mastodon (or mastodont) means “nipple teeth” and is also an obsolete name for their genus. Their skulls were larger and flatter than those of mammoths, while their skeleton was stockier and more robust. Mastodons also seem to have lacked the undercoat characteristic of mammoths.

    The tusks of the mastodon sometimes exceeded five meters in length and were nearly horizontal, in contrast with the more curved mammoth tusks.

    (The source of convenience for this info is Wikipedia, of course.)

  10. coelacanth1938 responds:

    Maybe they’re very sedentary mastodons?

  11. Cryptoraptor responds:

    Thanks, Loren. So as stated above, a small population of Woolly Mammoths survived on Russia’s Wrangel Island until as recently as 3700 years ago. That’s amazing.

  12. sieni responds:

    I remember seeing pictures of “elephants” on Mayan stone tablets. Either they actually saw elephants on their expeditions, or they had something similar on their own continent.

  13. Deborah responds:

    There are no Mastodons left in Alaska – Sarah Palin shot them all from a helicopter. :-) Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  14. Artist responds:

    HA! Boy, that Headline -
    “Alaskan Governor Describes Mastodon Herds”
    - sure got MY attention!
    I wonder why?

  15. Aztec Raptor responds:

    It is possible that the Mastodon may have survived. If the Musk ox, the Pornghorn, and Bison survived there is luck that the mastodon may survive in Alaska. it is mostly unpopulated and some unexplored. and about “elephants” on Mayan stone tablets, there may have lived some kind of elephant or Mammoth that lived in Mexico at the time of the Mayan civilization. my granfather had found a large elephant or Mammoth- like animal fossile in his backyard. the bad thing is the Mexican government took the fossile away from my granfathers home by two “scientists” that would tell him what it was in ten years. sadly, it has bin more then ten years and no info. it was some thing our family only knew about! I donot know how they found out!!

  16. Lightning Orb responds:

    Intrieguing article. It would certainly be cool if there were mastodons still living that recently (cooler still if they lived even now). But I have to agree with the notion the tusk was probably taken from a cadaver. Though one could even make a case for it having come from one of those hulking demon-walrus critters…

  17. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    I believe it. But what bothers me is that how do they know it’s a mastodon???? it could be a Unknown to science species what you may call New Species.

    Other than that… it could be a new breed somehow or a prehistoric breed. :)

    Either way it’s beautiful to hear this kind of sightings.. I love all animals.. and Elephants too, but they may not be my favorite, the mastodon stories and mammoths seem to be my favorite kind of the elephant kinds. :)

    makes me wonder.. if they were alive today.. i wonder how would the babies look if they all cross breed.

    Mastodon + Mammoth

    Mastodon + African Elephant

    Mastodon + Asian Elephant

    Mammoth + African Elephant

    Mammoth + Asian Elephant

  18. marcodufour responds:

    To ETxArtist there were in fact Musk ox in the wild in Alaska in September 2000 as i and my companions saw them there just inland from Nome.

  19. springheeledjack responds:

    The thing people forget all of the time is that even though people live in places like Alaska and what not, does not mean that every square mile (I was going to say “inch”, but mile is more appropriate) is not populated with people…far from it. People always ASSUME that we have covered all the territory, but the fact is there are plenty of places man has not ventured on this planet. There are backlands in Kentucky and Tennessee no human has ever stepped foot in…there are thousands of sqaure miles all over our country (and don’t even get me started on Canada) that no one walks on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

    So I do not believe that it is impossible for large critters to be wandering around unseen. Larger creatures tend to cover more ground, have larger territories, thus making it harder to find because they do move around…as for tracks, well if there are mastodons, then they should leave some large tracks and other remnants, but again, how often do people get out to the depths of Alaska, Canada, etc. And planes flying over don’t give you much of an advantage at all–if you’ve ever been in a small plane, a lot of the details on the ground go away with height and speed…and especially if you’ve got tree cover going against you, so that is no boon either.

    My point? Is it probable or 100% that mastodons are running in herds up in Alaska? I’d say it’s unlikely, but not impossible.

  20. mystery_man responds:

    I think the idea that mastodons still survive is feasible considering the size of Alaska and amount of remote areas. It also has to be kept in mind that not only have species been rediscovered after being supposedly extinct for far longer than the mastodon, but the discovery of new populations of large animals such as elephants and rhinos also add credence to the possibility. Take for instance the elephants that were discovered living on an island, a treeless one nonetheless, amidst swamps in south Sudan. This population managed to escape the ravages of over 20 years of war and rampant hunting. there is also the rhinos of Borneo which were only first photographed a couple of years ago. Now I know statistics aren’t the whole story, but let’s break it down.

    We have a new elephant population discovered in Sudan.
    Sudan has an area of 967,495 square miles. The population density is 36/ square mile. On top of that, a heavily over hunted and war torn country.

    A newly documented rhino in Borneo.
    Borneo has an area of 287,000 square miles with a population density of 57/ square mile.

    Now look at the facts for Alaska. An area of 656,424 square miles with a population density of 1.2/ square mile.

    So I find it hard to see how anyone could write off the possibility out of hand. It seems to me that the idea of a remaining population of large animals like mastodons lurking somewhere in the remote wilds of Alaska is not too far fetched.



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