Frozen Mammoth

The other day, I suddenly remembered a book I had read, years ago. It said that wooly mammoths have been found, well preserved, frozen in ice.

One story claimed that a team of researchers had found a frozem mammoth in the early part of this century. It looked pretty fresh to them, and being pretty hungry, decided to butcher it. The meat was a bit spoiled, so they fed it to their sled dogs.

The book also said that the mammoths somtimes appeared to have been “taken by surprise” when frozen. Some of them even had food in their mouths. But I can’t recall what the book said about how that happened.

Flash flood, maybe? But wouldn’t there be a lot of sediment in the ice? Maybe it fell into a crevice filled with freezing water?

Sorry if the question seems silly, but I can’t find anything on the subject in my library, or the SDMB archives, and I’m getting really curious.

Yes, there are frozen mammoths around, along with quite a few other animals. They’re preserved in permafrost in several areas of the far north.

There’s an article (the cover story) in the April issue of Discover Magazine about some Japanese biologist who wants to clone them, if he can get well-preserved samples, or breed them with modern elephants if necessary. But then, it was the April issue.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

If memory serves, most of these preserved mammoths were found in Siberia. Two stories I recall from the 70s:

  1. The Soviets were attempting to clone them.

  2. Mammoth steaks were once served at a diplomatic function in Moscow.

I’ve seen photographs somewhere. They look more mummified than frozen. All shrivled up and discolored like the bog people that were discovered a while back.

Mammoth steaks in Moscow? This I never hoid!

I remember, in one of those “Great Unsolved Mysteries”, an article to the effect that mammoths had been discovered frozen with a mouthful of buttercups in their mouth; the author went on to say that the muscle tissue had no ice crystals, but instead had the frozen structure that could only have resulted from temperature lowering to below freezing at an overall rate of faster than some x degrees per y amt of time which, given the mass of your basic blood-temperature mammoth, would require an environment of something like -94° Fahrenheit. Author then pointed out that fresh buttercups in the mouth meant that an instant before being in the -94° environment, the mammoth had been munching on flowers that would place the temperature at the time of buttercup-chomp at at least 150° warmer than that, so what the heck could have caused such an incredibly rapid temperature dropoff? Perhaps this is the article to which you refer. I haven’t read any follow-up on this, and the author’s original assumptions may have been in error.


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Please note that the mammoth steaks story is just that. A story. I have no idea if there is any truth to it or the cloning story. It seemed to be “common knowledge” when I was in Jr. High.

Note also that there were mammoths living on Wrangell Island (extreme NE coast of Russia) during recorded history. It’s not like these things have been frozen for a million years, only in the thousands.

Didnt they try to make a hybrid with that and a regular elephant, or is that another myth?

The Wrangell Island mammoths were dwarfs, only the size of a horse or smaller. Now That would have been something to see; it’s really a tragedy that we killed them all. There were even smaller species of elephants on some of the Mediterranean islands before people moved in. Elephas falconeri only stood about a yard tall at the shoulder.

As to the mammoth/elephant hybridization issue, last I heard the researcher was still looking for viable sperm cells from mammoths preserved in the permafrost. Just think of how that would look on your c.v.

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

Don’t eat the yellow. . .buttercups.

And I’m not really Russian to taste mammoth burger either, even if they don’t have any e. coli.

But I’ll admit that burying all those animals under the ice was a mammoth undertaking.

Ray (Believe whatcher willin’, Chillun.)

Much as I’d like to believe it, the mammoth steak dinner story appears to be another bit of urban folklore. “Everybody knows” about it, but so far I haven’t seen any reference to its actually having documentedly happened.

The mammoth-elephant cross was the subject of a Straight Dope column reprinted in one of the earlier books. Anybody have an URL for it? Nick?

I couldn’t find that exact topic, but did come up with:

and

I know this is a dead thread, but I had $.02 to add, and I just found my reference.

Roy Chapman Andrews, in “All About Strange Beasts of the Past,” gives details of a mammoth that was found in the village of Berezovka, which, at the time (1901), was the most complete mammoth ever found.

He also tells that he had heard of mammoth steak flown in from AK and being eatting in the “Explorers Club” in NYC, but he didn’t supply any details.

BTW, according to him, the word “mammoth” comes from the Tartar word “mamma,” which means “earth.” He says that the natives found the bones occasionally in the earth, and assumed that they belonged to some great burrowing creature!

Flash flood indeed. The earth was like a tropical greenhouse since it had a water canopy covering over the entire atmosphere. The water canopy fell to the earth rapidly and caused large temperature changes very quickly and then rain continued for 40 days and 40 nights. The mammoth was caught off-guard since only humans were warned of the world-wide flood.
That makes more sense than the story of glaciers falling over the mammoth during an ice age. That wouldn’t explain the surprise to the animal while eating something from a warm climate.

Exactly what expression denotes “surprise” on a hairy elephant?

Springtime on the tundra is a time of plants. Also a time of sinkholes and frostheaves. The mammoths are found in permafrost (frozen soil) and not ice, large animals often are caught in boggy ground even today. There is no great mystery about finding these remains where we do.


Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University

“There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be.”
-Charles Sanders Pierce

<< so what the heck could have caused such an incredibly rapid temperature dropoff? >>

Obviously, one of the Flash’s arch-enemies, Mr Freeze. Or was that Batman’s nemesis?

Sorry Dex, but Captain Cold was in Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery. He had a neat gun that shot cold…

quote:
There’s an article (the cover story) in the April issue of Discover Magazine about some
Japanese biologist who wants to clone them, if he can get well-preserved samples, or breed them with modern elephants if necessary. But then, it was the April issue.
Hell, the other 11 issues of Discover aren’t any better.

this may seem silly, but actually saw someone claim it on the discovery channel.

re:buttercups in mouth

…he said that since glaciers form at the poles, that sooner or later the north pole gets to heavy to stay at the top, and the whole earth shifts 90 degrees. then the glaciers, which would be at equator level, melt and refreeze at poles again. appearently he thinks this happens very fast.
so a mammoth on plains would suddenly be thrown to the pole area.

viola>>>suprise and deep freezing

Whoo boy…