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Strange history from Roswell and beyond

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Public Domain Submitted Art The description is as follows, “Copy of the first attempt at restoration of the Adams mammoth. The original has been lost, but this copy — with the handwriting of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach — survived” — date unknown.

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Ice Age creatures

By John LeMay

Author and historian

Of all the ice age creatures, the mammoth is easily the best known. It was slightly larger — and definitely hairier — than today’s African elephant. It lived during the Pleistocene epoch, and some theorize it survived past that and only went extinct 4,000 years ago. From time to time, frozen specimens have been found in Alaska and Siberia and are not uncommon.

The first was found as far back as 1692. The best known, a baby mammoth nicknamed Dima, was discovered in Siberia in 1977. In 2013, Russian explorers found a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth on an arctic island. According to the scientists, the female carcass included remains of red muscle cells. There were talks of attempting to clone the animal.

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In Alaska, in the late 1880s, an old fur trapper traded some natives for a pair of enormous ivory tusks said to have come from a mammoth. That, in of itself, was not strange. As already stated, finding a frozen mammoth wasn’t impossible. What alarmed the fur trader was that the tusks contained traces of fresh blood. The natives then went on to tell seeing a live mammoth. The article containing the story was published in the Wichita Eagle out of Kansas on July 26, 1889, and caused a stir.

Stories about mammoths were semi-common back then in Alaska. Take this one, published in the Alaskan on March 4, 1893, for example:

The Hunter’s Story

“The following is copied from an exchange received by the last mail from the Juneau Free Press, a paper which passed out of existence some two years ago.

“The Stikine Indians positively assert that within the last five years they have frequently seen animals which, from the description given, must be mastodons.

“Last spring, while out hunting, one of their hunters 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. As a class, these Indians are the bravest of hunters, but the proportions of this new species of game filled the hunter with terror, and he took to swift and immediate flight.

“He describes 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 at a single nip. He further states that the animal was undoubtedly of the same kind as those whose bones and tusks lie all over 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 Fortymile Creek, bones of mastodons are quite plentiful. One ivory tusk 9 feet long projects from one of the sand dunes on the creek, and single teeth have been found that are so large that they would have been a good load for a man to carry.

“I believe that the mule-footed hog still exists, that live mastodons play tag with the aurora every night on Fortymile Creek in Alaska.”