Mastodons Alive!

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 24th, 2006

Mastodons Still Living


This mastodon (Mammut americanum) is the life-sized bronze representation at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the home of the “Mastodons.”

Alaska Indians Claim They Have Seen Them Running About.

The Stickeen Indians positively assert that within the last five years they have frequently seen animals which, from the descriptions given, must have been mastodons.

Last spring, while out hunting, one of the Indians came across a series of large tracks, each the size of the bottom of a salt barrel, sunk deep in the moss. He followed the curious trail for some miles, finally coming out in full view of his game, says The Philadelphia Ledger.

As a class these Indians are the bravest of hunters, but the proportions of this new spectacle of game filled the hunter with terror, and he took to swift and immediate flight. He described the creature as being as large as a post trader’s store, with great, shining, yellowish white tusks, and a mouth large enough to swallow a man with one gulp. He further says that the animal was undoubtedly of the same species as those whose bones and tusks lie all over that section of the country.

The fact that other hunters have told of seeing these monsters browsing on the herbs up along the river gives a certain probability to the story. Over on Forty Mile Creek bones of mastodons are quite plentiful. One ivory tusk, nine feet long, projects from one of the sand dunes on that creek, and single teeth have been found so large that they would be a good load for one man to carry. I believe that the mule-footed hog still exists; also that live mastodons play tag with the aurora every night over on Forty Mile Creek in Alaska.

Source: Winnipeg Daily Free Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba
March 28, 1893
Credit archival research: Jerome Clark

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

39 Responses to “Mastodons Alive!”

  1. Shawshank responds:

    Why make it seem that you mean “still living” today when you mean still living as of 113 years ago. Granted, even such a recent sighting would, if valid, by important and exciting, but why the curve ball?

  2. Bennymac responds:

    Is this your first time on cryptomundo?

  3. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    IT MAY BE YOURS. the report is from 1893. over 113 years old.

    if it was true such a large animal couldn’t have gone unnoticed.

    sound familiar?

    great story from the late 19 century loren. were there any other reports of such animals about that time? or was this just tabloid fodder of the day

  4. jayman responds:

    This kind of ties in with the “Pine Ridge” threads. We can respect the Native American peoples and their cultures without believing everything they say.

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    People familiar with the trips I guide here at Cryptomundo understand that I often gently toss an intellectually challenging case like this your way. It is sometimes good to approach these stories out of context and be curious by where they lead you, steer me, and surprise us. Why not?

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    Also, in geological time, a mere 113 years ago is “today.”

    Bernard Heuvelmans collected reports of contemporary sightings of mammoths. These mastodon ones are well within that context, cryptozoologically speaking.

  7. Ole Bub responds:

    Good morning Loren…

    Perhaps the occassional wandering pachyderm was the inspiration for that notable expression of despair and anguish during North America’s Westward expansion…”seeing the elephant”…then again it may have been a Circus train wreck…

    Which begs the question…could other mega fauna have survived and perhaps be thriving in the remotest regions of the Alaskan/Canadian Northwest…certainly more likely than a goat sucker or lake monster…where is the body…how come no one has shot one..what about roadkill…LOL

    seeing is believing….sometimes

    ole bub and the dawgs

  8. Shawshank responds:

    Point well taken, Loren.

  9. Mr.PassiveAggressive responds:

    True discovery sometimes lies in the journey, not just the destination??

  10. aaha responds:

    Ole Bub –

    Employing “the circus train wreck” excuse is invalid. I have posted some celebrated “circus train wrecks” here. If you investigate, nearly all of the animals are either killed or rounded up after said wrecks. The large animals just don’t wander off down the tracks and into paternity eternity.

  11. Ole Bub responds:


    I should have added the obligatory…laughing out loud…LOL

    The train wreck analogy was meant with sarcastic candor…as are the comments concerning… where is a body, shooting one and of course…what about roadkill…JMHO

    I recently donated my fossil collection complete with some Mastodon molars, and three perfect Megalodon teeth. Anyone seen my trilobite…I need a good fossil to cap my cards…other than my hand.

    I stand corrected…sir…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  12. Delawhere responds:

    Shoot, ole bub – I’d have made you an offer for a Megalodon tooth prior to the donation.

    PS – to Loren and the other contributors/commentators here, this site is great. I read it every day. It takes me back to when I did my high-school freshman term paper (many years ago!) on Bigfoot/Loch Ness and my English teacher thought I was nuts for choosing such an outlandish topic.

  13. JRC responds:

    I love the idea of mastodons still being out there tromping around the great white north. Though I doubt that such a thing is true, I dearly wish it were.

    I had read (in Wired I believe) that there was a geneticist who was hoping to clone mastodons and sabretooths. His plan was to release them back into the wild.

    My recollection is that he had met with at least one threat on his life from a Texan who said something along the lines of, ‘I’ll shoot the mammoths and tigers and then shoot you too’.

    Death threats from rednecks notwithstanding, I think that its a grand idea.

    Maybe just the mastodons though.

  14. Mysteriousness responds:

    From what I understand, there is no natural reason for the mastadon extinction. Many theories circle around extinction through human means. I think what we may be seeing here is what’s known as “functional extinction,” where a species still exists, but in numbers so small that the population cannot recover (see: thylacine).

    I have certainly visited this part of the world and there is just a bit of open land there – easily enough for a small population of mastadons (large as they might be) exist undisturbed, far separated from any humans. Whether they actually still live or not, we’ll need some evidence to prove it.

  15. JRC responds:


    I believe the reigning theory is that we (well earlier us) hunted them to extinction. Along with several other prey species which led to the deaths of predatory mammals as well (sabretooths, giant bears, etc.).

    The thylacine analogy is correct but I would put forth that it is more akin to the buffalo, wolf, coyote, mountain lion, and western brown bear.

    Where once you remove one species from the chain the rest of it collapses as well.

  16. Ole Bub responds:


    I guess I could make up some tall tale about Bill Green and myself rasseling “Chessie” to and fro…while noodling around for those Megalodon teeth…LOL

    Truth is I traded some shale fossils and a geode or two for those 3-4 inch black teeth…. way way back when… before they became stylish…I don’t have a clue what a 4 inch black fossilized shark tooth is worth…no way it compare’s to the satisfaction I got…

    No doubt…they were the centerpiece of my “rock boxes” from long…long ago…kid’s eyes would lite up with big grins…nope…they ain’t for sale….it’s best they stay right where they are.

    arm sasquatch…save humanity…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  17. Mysteriousness responds:


    Yes, I would have to agree with you on that. The most likely cause would absolutely be the collapse of the chain rather than completely at the hands of early man (it would be pretty difficult to kill every last mammoth on the planet with primitive weapons).

    What I mean by “no natural cause” was that without natural environmental disaster or disease, it is feasible for small populations to continue to exist, albeit maybe for only a few more generations. On the whole, the collapse of a particular food chain is disastrous, there still remains the possibility of small, localized food chains that could continue a microcosm of the larger ecology.

  18. smylex responds:


  19. Maohk Kiaayo responds:

    There are Indian Legends of mastodon like animals north of the US border.

  20. Sky King responds:

    “single teeth have been found so large that they would be a good load for one man to carry.”

    Now THAT’S what I’d call a “whopper”! Somehow I think, say, an apple crate would hold more than one Mastodon tooth!

  21. jayman responds:

    JRC, the geneticist’s proposal was probably to clone mammoths, not mastadons. Mammoths were closely related to the two elephant species living today. The American mastadon looked similar, but was not a true elephant and was more distantly related.

    Numerous frozen remains of mammoths have been found in the tundra which could provide genetic material. I don’t know if comparable well preserved mastadon remains have been located.

    A modern elephant would be a surrogate mother for the proposed mammoth clone. The idea may not be practical but it’s interesting.

  22. cabochris responds:

    I suppose none of them Tuskers were pink back then? 🙂

  23. MojoHotep responds:

    Once upon a time, there was a bird the size of a duck, called an Ivory Billed Woodpecker. It was extinct, until it turned up in Arkansas, alive and well. In size comparison, one Ivory Bill in Arkansas is comparable to a whole herd of Mastadons in Alaska. Can’t count the number of “experts” and “wannabe experts” who said (before the Arkansas encounter) that if an Ivory Bill was alive and well in the world, somebody would have seen it already.

    Commence the throwing of stones.

  24. Kelly responds:

    I have given up on the “living” dinosaurs dream but still have some hope that Pleistocenian holdovers are still holding over. Mastodons in Alaska probably not, Arctodus in Kamchatka more likely but unlikely. I think all the chips fall on bigfoot and his global brethren. Can we catch this thing already or at least get a cell phone video of some bizarre encounter that defies belief and leaves enough evidence or damage to leave no doubt?!

  25. earthman responds:

    Like jayman says above, probably mammoth. Mastodon was a southern species, mammoth was adapted to snow.

  26. badkitty responds:

    Having seen an Indian elephant actually escape from a circus here in Oz, manage to elude capture for several days in an area that is quite well populated, farm land and towns, I would not doubt that in a large unpopulated area a herd of mammoth would have no trouble going unnoticed!

    Even with a helicopter on the search, it took days to locate!

  27. shumway10973 responds:

    Hey, let’s not forget the stories of the animals used to make the Taj Mahal. Everything about them sounds like mamoths. So much so that one scientist led an expedition thru the area reportly where these creatures were captured. Watching this on NOVA I could see how such a creature could still be alive without anyone seeing them, the grass was taller than the elephants the people were riding. There are areas of Alaska that very few venture thru, these creatures could be there. Besides, if their bones are so plentiful, then there must still be some around to replenish. Bones don’t last forever. The only reason we think them exinct is that some “expert” (can you tell I loathe that word) found the remains and said, “oh, poor things are extinct. now for my 15 minutes of fame!”

  28. sasquatch responds:

    Wouldn’t it be cool if a mammoth walked into downtown Ankorage like Moose sometimes do? Just think of it! Hilarious! The news reporters would be
    so funny…Man am I tired! Goodnight…

  29. crypto_randz responds:

    Once again Loren great subject to choose, everyone here have great ideas to wonder if the mastadons and mammoths exist. The study of lake dinos and mammoths are my favorite study of cryptozoology. I have alot of books and watched alot documentaries on these mastadons, I have to say I believe they still could exist in the Alaskan area. To think these huge animals exist would truly be great find. Remember there are areas out there not yet explored yet, now on the wooly mammoth, this animal was truly colossal, there are still reports I have read that in Siberian Russian mountains, that hunters have claimed they have seen the wooly mammoth and they are still hunting them. There are reports of loud thunderous roars from what maybe the wooly mammoth. The Siberian widerness is truly a large huge area to explore some areas are hard to explore, alot of unexplored areas.

  30. crypto_randz responds:

    Siberian wilderness the weather is very unfavorble, very and raw. Alaskan hills are the same way, hopefully sometime soon there will be a discovery that these mastadons and mammoths exist.

  31. Mnynames responds:

    A wall mural in the tomb of Rekhmire, Vizier to Pharaohs Tuthmoses III and Amenhotep II circa 1450 B.C.E., shows a procession of animals given in trade. Among them is a very small Elephant with an unusually bulbous head structure more common to a Mammoth.

    Usually dismissed by scholars as being simply a young Elephant, it bears long tusks indicating that it is an adult. The attendant that holds its reigns carries on his shoulder larger tusks, and so other scholars have claimed that the Elephant is merely a representation of the ivory’s source, and thus need not be drawn to scale. The problem with that assumption, however, is that it is surrounded by other animals, all of which ARE drawn to scale.

    It is certainly possible for a Dwarf Mammoth to have been captured and transported all the way from Siberia to Egypt, and it is interesting that the artist would choose to depict this paradoxical pachyderm in tandem with a Bear- another cold-weather animal. As to how likely this might be, we need only look to a later Pharaoh, Ptolemy II. Although he lived much later (300 B.C.E.), trade networks to the far north had advanced very little, and yet Ptolemy’s menagerie could boast of a Polar Bear.

    To give you a better frame of reference, Amenhotep II was King Tut’s great, great grandfather, separated by just 50 years or so.

  32. L Ron Hubbub responds:

    As far as the whole circus train thing goes, last year, My wife & I were in Ireland.

    Coming through the village of Claddagh after a tour of Connemara we were treated to the sight of an unfettered and unaccompanied camel calmly chewing on the local greenery.

    Was this displaced dromedary a relict of a population that wandered into County Galway before the English Channel and the Irish Sea were submerged?

    Unlikely, sez I.

    And wasn’t the Circus in town for St. Paddy’s day?

  33. twblack responds:

    Just think if they were still around. What a wonder it would be to see one pass by.

  34. cor2879 responds:

    I have often pondered the possibility that a few mammoths could still be wandering about in the wilderness of the frozen north, both in North America and Siberia. It is one of the least inhabited, least explored regions of the world, and the inhospility of these places makes them likely to remain so. I choose to believe that they do still exist there because the world is more interesting with a few mammoths still kicking around in it 🙂

  35. cor2879 responds:

    Oh Loren just wanted to say I think the whole thing with posting the old articles is really cool. No matter how many times you do it you still always get me when I get to the end of the article and realize it’s from 100+ years ago… it has exactly the effect you expressed that you are looking for.

  36. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    My favorite is the closing line about mastodons playing tag with the aurora. Damn snarky reporters! The more things change…

  37. Allen Hazen responds:

    A propos of Mnynames’s post of 25 August last year about the Egyption portrayal of a small but adult looking proboscidean: mo need for a dwarf mammoth to have come from Siberia! There were dwarf races of “mammoth” on a number of Mediterranean islands, including either Crete or Cyprus, in the Pleistocene that may have survived until humans settled the islands. Since the Egyptians had trade relations with Aegean peoples….

  38. Mnynames responds:

    I am aware of dwarf hippos and I believe rhinos from Malta and other islands of the Mediterranean, but no mammoths. The only scientifically documented dwarf mammoths that I am aware of are the ones from Wrangell Island, Siberia and Santa Rosa Island, California, although certainly others could have developed elsewhere, and the Aegean is a good potential location for them.

    Then again, maybe I just missed it, it was just discovered, or the findings are somewhat disputed for some reason. More info please, if you have it.

  39. duskshade responds:

    I don’t know that I would say I believe it. Having been in the Anchorage area, and camping there in the summer, I know that there is a lot of area to hide in. Most people have this idea that the Alaskan wild areas are all permafrost and tundra. While this is true in the farther north, there is plenty of area that is not, and some that is frozen only in winter. As of 2006, Alaska had only 670,053 according to the US Census… that low a density of people in such a large state makes it contraindicated that there would be any meaningful contact with any low-numbers animal population.

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