0. Ice Age Sino-Russian Fauna by Mark Hallett
Throughout history, people have claimed sightings of large mammals that had supposedly gone extinct over 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. The musk ox is a well-known living example of such a creature from the glacial era. But by far the most dramatic are continual reports of living mammoths in the vast circumpolar forest known as the Taiga, also called the Boreal Forest or Snow Forest. The Taiga is the world's largest land biome, making up 29% of the world’s forest cover; the greatest areas are in Russia and Canada. Sparsely populated by humans, large areas of Siberia's Taiga have been harvested for lumber since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
1. The Taiga is found throughout the high northern latitudes, between the tundra and the temperate forest, from about 50°-70°N,but with considerable regional variation. -Wikipedia)
Due to the harshness of the climate the Taiga supports a relatively small range of animals. Canada's boreal forest includes 85 known species of mammals, 130 species of fish, and an estimated 32,000 species of insects. The largest animal believed to live in the Taiga is the wood bison, found in northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, where it has been recently introduced.
But the Taiga is vast, and little explored. If there is any habitat on Earth that could support remnant populations of supposedly extinct large ice-age mammals, it’s the Taiga. And so it should come as no surprise that not only many sightings of Bigfoot, but also of living mammoths, should come to us from this region of the “Great White North.”
2. Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)
Koguhpuks (meaning “Earth Moles”) are gigantic subterranean beasts in the folklore of Siberia and the Inuits of Alaska’s Bering Straits. Extremely photophobic, they are said to die upon exposure to light. Therefore, they emerge only once a year on the longest, darkest night (Winter Solstice). Huge bones of Mammoths found in spring in the thawing permafrost are said to be the remains of Koguhpuks that were caught on the surface at dawn. The 1901 excavation of the “Berezovka Mammoth” is the best documented of the early finds. It was discovered by the Berezovka River in Russia. The carcass is currently exhibited in the St. Petersburg Museum of Zoology.
3. The Berezovka Mammoth cadaver after preliminary excavation in 1901, pictured with German–Russian paleontologist Eugene Pfizenmayer and an unidentified member of the expedition. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.
A 5th century bce Chinese book called Ly-ki describes the Tien-Schu (or Tyn-Schu, Yn-Schu, “The Mouse That Hides Itself”) — “It constantly confines itself to subterraneous caverns; it resembles a mouse, but is of the size of a buffalo or ox. It has no tail; its color is dark; it is very strong and excavates caverns in places full of roots and covered with forests.” A 16th-century Chinese naturalist writes: “It dies as soon as it is exposed to the rays of the sun or moon; its feet are short in proportion to its size…. Its eyes are small; its neck short. It is very stupid and sluggish.” These descriptions may refer to the Pleistocene Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), whose frozen bodies have been discovered in thawing tundra. They give the impression of huge burrowers that had recently emerged from underground, only to die at the surface.
4. Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis)
Highly evolved prehistoric elephants were widespread across the Northern Hemisphere during the Ice Age and hunted extensively by early humans. In Mongolia, Manchuria, and Siberia, more recent legends account for the frozen specimens by claiming that they lived underground, and died as soon as they came into the sunlight. The word Mammoth is from the Russian mamantu, “that-which-lives-beneath-the-ground”). The shaggy-haired Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was a spectacularly successful and prolific species, ranging from Spain to North America. There have been occasional sightings and claims that some might still survive in the vast and sparsely inhabited forests of the Siberian Tiaga.
5. Woolly Mammoth by Heuvelmans, p. 206
Bernard Heuvelmans, the ‘father of Cryptozoology,’ has a chapter in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals that includes the account of M. Gallon (French chargee d’d’affaires at Vladivostock) of what he was told in 1920 by a Russian witness who spoke of finding tracks in 1918, and eventually observing a large hairy tusked elephant-like animal in Russia. Heuvelmans also includes reference to a “large hairy elephant” reported as being seen by in the late 16th Century by Yermak Timofeyevitch, leader of a cossack expedition n the Ural mountains. “According to the natives it was part of the wealth of the Kingdom of Sibir, valued as food and known as ‘mountain of meat.’ This happened at a time when even the Slav world had never heard of the mammoth.” (Heuvelmans, p. 353).
Colonel Fowler and the Mammoth
6. Col. Fowler’s mammoth
Col. F. Fowler lived for 12 years in Alaska, from c.1877-1889. On finishing his time there he was asked by a reporter about the most interesting thing he had seen there. He answered as follows:
Two years ago last summer I left Kodiac for a trip to the head waters of the Snake River, where our travelling agents had established a trading station at an Innuit village. The chief … received me hospitably, and I at once began negotiations for the purchase of a big lot of fossil ivory which his tribe had stored near the village. The lot weighed several thousand pounds and was composed of the principal and inferior tusks of the mammoth, the remains of thousands of which gigantic animals are to be found in the beds of interior Alaskan water-courses. I subjected the ivory to a rigid inspection, and upon two of the largest tusks I discovered fresh blood traces and the remnants of partly decomposed flesh. I questioned To-lee-ti-ma, and he assured me that less than three months before a party of his young men had encountered a drove of monsters about fifty miles above where he was then encamped, and had succeeded in killing two, an old bull and a cow. At my request he sent for the leader of the hunting party, a young and very intelligent Indian, and I questioned him closely about his adventure among a race of animals that the scientific people claim are extinct. He told a very straightforward story and I have no reason to doubt its truth.
Here is a tape purported to show a living mammoth. It was filmed in 1943:
REAL Woolly MAMMOTH sighting footage caught on tape! (Yakutsk city, Sakha Republic, Siberia 1943) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcm6lZ_qAQ
7. Woolly Mammoth tape-1943
Note about this tape: After the conclusion of the WW2 Battle of Stalingrad, Nazi Party member and official photographer for the NSDAP, Holger Hildebrand, was captured by the Red Army at the Battle of Stalingrad. He and thousands of other Wehrmacht soldiers were later sent on a death march towards Siberia; this mammoth footage is understood to have been taken during that journey. (Hildebrand is believed to have died a prisoner of war at a Soviet forced labor camp in late 1945. His granddaughter later came into possession of the footage when his belongings were repatriated to Germany from Russia decades after his death.)
Plans are now underway to clone mammoths from frozen tissue. By March of 2015, genetic segments from frozen mammoth specimens, including genes for the ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair attributes, were copied into the DNA of skin cells from a modern elephant. This marked the first time that woolly mammoth genes had been functionally active since the species became extinct. If the cloning process is ever successful, there are plans to introduce woolly mammoths to Pleistocene Park, a wildlife reserve in Siberia.
Karkadann (Sanskrit, Kartajan, “Lord of the Wilderness”; also Karkadan, Karkadanno, Karmadan, Cartazoon, Carcazonon) — A ferocious giant “Unicorn” of ancient Ethiopia, Persia, and India. Also called monoceros (“one-horn”), it was described as having the head of a stag, teeth like a wolf’s, the body of a horse or bull, the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a boar or lion. It was completely white except for its horn, which was black. It was said to be quite belligerent, attacking even elephants. It was claimed that only the ring dove could charm the savage beast. This fearless little bird would perch upon the Karkadann’s long horn and sing, much to the delight of its host. In return, the Karkadann made its home near ring dove nests, protecting them from harm.
It has been proposed that the Karkadann may have been an actual Pleistocene beast that may have survived into historical times in remote regions of the Himalayas, much as the Ice Age musk ox and reindeer still survive in northern climes. The creature so identified is the Elasmotherium (“thin plate beast”), a gigantic shaggy rhinoceros with a single massive horn jutting straight out, not from its nose, but from the center of its forehead. In some specimens, the horn may have exceeded six feet in length! As with many animals living in snow, its long coat would be white in the winter, but would be shed in summer to reveal a shorter darker coat beneath.
9. Elasmotherium caucasicum
This description matches perfectly a mysterious cave painting at Lascaux in France, commonly referred to as “the Unicorn.” It is a heavily pregnant female, with a long horn projecting forward from her forehead, and her coat is white with dark reddish-brown circular patches. She is shedding her winter coat in Spring, and about to give birth in the appropriate season.
10. “Unicorn” of Lascaux cave painting, France
Giant Sloth of Patagonia— Huge, red-haired creatures have been reported roaming the dense Amazon jungle of Brazil and Patagonia in South America since the 1890s. Cryptozoologists believe they could be Mylodons, a giant ground sloth with thick, orange fur thought to be extinct for 10,000 years. It weighed 450 pounds and stood ten feet tall, using its sturdy tail to balance itself upright.
11. Giant Ground Sloth (Mylodon) at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas
Patagonian Indians tell of hunting the Mapinguari (also called Iemisc, Isnashi or Alux) — a terrifying creature that lives in the mountains. The name is usually translated as “the roaring animal” or “the fetid beast”. This animal is said to be the size of an ox, six to 15 feet tall when standing on its hind legs, with short hind legs, a short wide tail, and long clawed arms. It has long reddish matted hair, large teeth and claws, a soul-wrenching scream, and a horrible stench. It is also said to have one gigantic eye like a Cyclops, and a wide mouth in its stomach (it has been proposed that these features may in actuality be color markings on the snout and belly).
12. Mapinguari statue in Rio Branco, Brazil
In more recent alleged eyewitness accounts, it has consistently been described as resembling either an ape or a giant ground-dwelling sloth, with long arms, powerful claws that can tear apart palm trees, and a sloping back. It usually walks on all four backward-facing feet, but it sometimes stands upright and walks on just its hind legs. It is nocturnal and sleeps during the day in burrows. The Indians say they find it difficult to penetrate the animal’s hide with their arrows.
13. Neomylodon mapinguari (with markings as described by natives)
The physical descriptions of the Mapenguari (minus the one eye and extra mouth) fit the mylodon perfectly. Even the backward-facing feet make sense when we consider that these sloths walked on their knuckles when they’re on all fours. Their long claws, while intimidating, were used mainly for digging up roots and peeling off vegetation. They are believed to have been herbivores, which would also explain why they have never harmed anyone, even those who were temporarily paralyzed. (--“Jungle Stories” by Jay Hansen)
A small section of apparently fresh Mylodon hide was found by a rancher named Eberhardt in a Patagonian cave in 1895. Nearby human remains suggested that it had been hunted by people. The skin was studded with bony nodules and would have been impervious to the teeth of Pleistocene predators as well as Indian arrows.
14. Short-Faced Bear (Arctodos simus)
Bergman’s Bear — On Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula, local reindeer hunters insist that a one-ton giant bear, with a small head, narrow body, and long legs, still exists. The description matches the prehistoric Short-Faced Bear (Arctodos simus), the biggest bear that ever lived. Standing 9 feet tall on its hind legs, this ferocious carnivore is believed to have been extinct for 10,000 years, but sightings are still reported. A pelt was examined in 1920 by Swedish zoologist Sten Bergman, who named it Ursus arctos piscator.
The Shunka Warak’in is a great, wolflike beast said to inhabit the great plains of North America. The name means “carries off dogs” in the language of the Ioway Indians. Some cryptozoologists have speculated that the Shunka Warak’in may be a Dire Wolf (Canis dirus), or some other surviving Pleistocene predator such as the Bear-dog, (Amphicyonid). A purported specimen was shot in Montana around the turn of the 20th century. It was mounted and displayed at a general store and museum in Henry Lake, Idaho, where the owner called it “Ringdocus.” Its current location is unknown, but to this author (OZ), it appears to be a Brown Hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea).
16. Brown Hyaena
Tarasque— A ferocious, amphibious river-dragon of the Rhone Valley in southern France. Larger than an ox, it had six legs, the head of a lion, the paws of a bear, and a scaly body with a long, serpentine tail ending in a sharp barb. The hard, leathery shell on its back was covered with spikes. It was subdued by St. Martha, who tied her belt around its neck and led it docilely back into the town of Nerlue, where the treacherous villagers killed it.
17. Tarasque festival, 1905 hand-coloured postcard
Afterward, the town’s name was changed to Tarascon, and annual processions continue to commemorate this event, complete with a lifesize effigy of the Tarasque, which (other than the six legs) strongly resembles an ankylosaur (armored dinosaur) or a glyptodont (a giant Ice-Age armadillo the size of a Volkswagon). The story is probably based, as with so many accounts of dragons, on fossil remains of such creatures. But could it actually have been a living animal?
Thunder Horse— A huge and terrifying horse-monster in the traditions of the Oglala Sioux Indians of Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. It plunges to the Earth during storms, and its hoofbeats create thunder. In 1875, paleontologist Othniel Marsh was shown enormous bones which the Sioux claimed were from a Thunder Horse. He identified them as huge, rhino-like relatives of horses that lived about 35 million years ago. In honor of the legend, he named it Brontotherium, “Thunder Beast.”
20. Legend of the Thunder Horses
21. Brontotherium primitivni
Veo—A nocturnal cryptid reported to be living on the Micronesian island of Rintja. It is said to be the size of a horse, with huge claws and a long head. It has large, overlapping scales covering everything except its head, lower legs, belly, and the end of its tail. It feeds on ants and termites. This description matches that of the eight-foot-long Pleistocene Giant Pangolin (Manis palaeojavanicus), fossils of which have been found on the neighboring islands of Java and Borneo. See Dingonek.
Waheela— A wolfish creature said to inhabit Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories. It is larger and more heavily built than ordinary wolves, with a wide head, big feet, and long white fur. Witnesses describe it as being about four feet high at the shoulder. Its hind legs are shorter than its front legs, and its tracks indicate widely spaced toes. Solitary creatures, they are never seen in packs. According to native legends, the Waheela is an evil spirit that tears the heads off its victims. Its description matches that of the Pleistocene Bear Dog (Amphicyonid), presumed extinct for 10,000 years.
23. Bear Dog (Amphicyonid)
Wishpoosh— A colossal beaver with huge claws dwelling in beautiful Lake Cle-el-lum in Washington State. According to Nez Perce Indian legend, this monster wished to be the only one to fish in the lake, and so he drove away or killed anyone who approached. The people appealed to Coyote, the trickster, who engaged Wishpoosh in a titanic battle. Coyote and Wishpoosh fought each other at the bottom of the lake until the sides gave way and all the water rushed out, pouring out over the mountains and through the canyons. This happened several times, creating a succession of ever-more-immense lakes and eventually carving out the Columbia River gorge, channeling all that water to the ocean. This is a remarkably accurate description of the sequence of catastrophic floodings resulting from the melting of the Cordilleran ice sheet 13,000 years ago. It appears that the Nez Perce Indians have a remarkably long oral tradition!
24. Map of glacial melt lakes in Washington
During the Pleistocene era, a gigantic beaver called Castoroides ohioensis roamed North America, possibly inspiring this legend. It was more than 8 feet long, weighed 485 pounds, and had 6-inch-long teeth.
25. Castoroides ohioensis
Mighty Mammals in the Movies
Mammoths have appeared in more movies than any other Ice-Age mammal, starting with Quest for Fire in 1981, which also had saber-toothed cave lions. Exaggerated versions of prehistoric mammals were featured in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2002 (Deinotheria, Hyaenodons) and also in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003 (Deinotheria, Arsinotherium). Mammoth (2006) was a somewhat cheesy TV movie. 10,000 BC (2008) was pretty cool, with more Mammoths and an impressive Smilodon.
Sabertooths also got some good film appearances in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), Sabertooth (a TV movie), 2002, and Attack of the Sabertooth, 2005 (another TV movie),.
And then there is the series of delightful animated films, starting with Ice Age (2002), the first film in the franchise. This was followed by Ice Age: The Meltdown, a 2006 sequel. Next came Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), and most recently, Ice Age: Collision Course (2016). These films had Mammoths, Giant Ground Sloths, Sabertooths, Brontotheres, Giant Beavers, Glyptodonts, and every other Ice Age mammal the writers and artists could think of.
Colonel Fowler and the Mammoth, 1887. http://www.strangehistory.net/2014/02/27/colonel-fowler-and-the-mammoth/
Hansen, Jay, “Jungle Stories,” http://www.foilhatninja.com/jungle-stories/
Heuvelmans, Bernard, “The Mammoth of the Taiga,” On the Track of Unknown Animals (pp. 331-353, English translation, 1958, London)
REAL Woolly MAMMOTH sighting footage caught on tape! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcm6lZ_qAQ
Wikipedia: “Taiga.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiga