Mammoth Meat

Mammoth Model

Mammoth Model

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The Mammoth died out in the “Middle Holocene”. Mostly about 10,000 to 4,000 years ago. (quotes from the wiki)

Until recently, it was generally assumed that the last woolly mammoths vanished from Europe and southern Siberia about 10,000 BC, but new findings show that some were still present there about 8,000 BC. Only slightly later, the woolly mammoths also disappeared from continental northern Siberia. A small population survived on St. Paul Island, Alaska, up until 3,750 BC, and the small mammoths of Wrangel Island survived until 1,650 BC.

Yet we find frozen mammoth meat as the permafrost melts. There are stories of natives and explorers finding frozen mammoths as the glaciers melted and retreated.

From the wiki:

There is an estimate of 150 million mammoth remains in Russia’s Siberian permafrost, which covers a vast sparsely inhabited area. Some of the remains are frozen complete, others in pieces of bone, tusk, tissue and wool, from less than a metre to 1 km below ground.

Recently an intact baby mammoth was extracted from intact permafrost.

In May 2007, the carcass of a one-month-old female woolly mammoth calf was discovered in a layer of permafrost near the Yuribei River in Russia, where it had been buried for 37,000 years.

This has two interesting facts about it, when it comes to “global warming”.

1) It is now warmer than it has been since those animals were frozen into the permafrost and / or covered in ice and snow. We have been warming since that point.

2) It was warmer then. (or they could not have gotten into the ice in the first place.)

These animals need a LOT of vegetation to live. They do not live on ice sheets. They live where their is enough green growth to support a herd of very massive animals. It was warmer, and it was greener.

And there was no ‘tipping point’. And there was no man made CO2 causing the planet to be warmer then.

There is only a natural variation in the weather that causes extreme changes from time to time and that made it a warm pleasant place to live when we came out of the last glacial event, then made it cold and frozen again, and only now has gotten close to the earlier warmth (but not close enough to have freed all the frozen mammoths.)

There are stories of folks eating mammoth meat from earlier frozen mammoths as they were found. We’ve been in a deep freeze for a long time, but it was clearly warmer when the mammoth meat was put into that freezer…

Just like Otze, the Ice Man, found under a glacier in the Alps as it retreated. It does mean that it is warmer now than before the glacier melted; but it also means that it was warmer 5000 years ago when he fell, mortally wounded by an arrow. Then the snows began to fall preserving him. Just as they had done to mammoths earlier.

So next time you are having a steak, take a moment to think about Mammoth Meat and what it means. That we have been warmer in the not too distant past. Even during the Holocene when Otze was crossing the Alps.Ötzi_the_Iceman

We are only now coming out of the freezer to where we have been before.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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47 Responses to Mammoth Meat

  1. co2fan says:

    Immanuel Velikovsky, in his “Earth in Upheaval”, where he tried to demonstrate past catastrophic events, referenced a discovery of a mammoth carcass, which had edible meat, and contained undigested plants in its stomach of a type which now (then, the book was published n the 50s) only grows 400 miles south from there.

    I always found that strange, it implies a rapid climate shift.

    Just food for thought.


  2. boballab says:

    Well according to 2 peer reviewed papers out his year, when taken together show that Mammoths actually comitted suicide by farting themselves to death:

    Together with other large plant-eating mammals that are now extinct, they released around 9.6 million tonnes of the gas each year, experts estimated.

    When the ”megafauna” disappeared there was a dramatic fall in atmospheric methane which may have altered the climate.

    Analysis of gases trapped in ice cores suggests that the loss of animal emissions accounted for a large amount of the decline.

    Now how does a large land animal emit methane? Farting. This paper says that this led to “Global Warming”.

    But the most comprehensive study to date found that it was the spread of forests as the climate warmed after the last ice age, forcing woolly mammoths from their grassland habitat

    So there you go if you fart too much it warms the planet up and kills you, if don’t fart enough you freeze to death.

  3. co2fan says:

    I think the Velikovskys book could have been his first one “Worlds in Collision”.

    Anyway, he was trying to fight against Lyells theory of uniformity, which stated that only those things happening right now have occurred in the past.

    He did imply a tipping point, although it was a quite wild theory of planetary disturbances. It was fun at the time, and he did piss off Carl Sagan, which I thought was a good thing.


  4. pyromancer76 says:

    I think I have seen enough people say that Earth is coming out of cold periods with less and less warmth; today’s warmth, from 1850-present is less warm than the medieval warm period and MWP was less warm than the Roman warm period (until the 6th century) and so on back to the beginning of the Holocene. The end result, as I understand it, is a long period of cold — and ice — (when?) until a rapid warming once again, then a slow decline. Maybe Milankovitch-style rotations call the main shots and comets/asteroids and volcanoes make for a great deal of uncertainty and/or devastation. Make mine Mammoth meat for a clear head and a strong mind.

    It seems that there has more often than not been a dearth of CO2, unless a huge volcano has added to the atmosphere — life-giving, small-warming, absolutely necessary CO2. (There is also a hint from new research that the Cambrian explosion of life might be due to rapid movement of plates/continents away from the poles to places around the equator. Neat, if the idea holds up. The more heat, the better, up to a point. Certainly alot more than today.)

    I hope you are planning on puzzles from the excellent photos. Some with Mammoths and bunnies would be good, too.

  5. co2fan says:

    I guess it was “Earth in Upheaval”

    I got this from a site that postulates poleshift theories:

    “What are some of the FACTS that Velikovsky located and put as pieces of the puzzle into the whole?
    I quote from Earth in Upheaval.

    Velikovsky Earth in Upheaval
    The Ivory Islands, pages 4-6
    In 1797 the body of a mammoth, with flesh, skin, and hair, was found in northeastern Siberia. The flesh had the appearance of freshly frozen beef; it was edible, and wolves and sled dogs fed on it without harm. The ground must have been frozen ever since the day of their entombment; had it not been frozen, the bodies of the mammoths would have putrefied in a single summer, but they remained unspoiled for some thousands of years. In some mammoths, when discovered, even the eyeballs were still preserved.

    (All) this shows that the cold became suddenly extreme .. and knew no relenting afterward. In the stomachs and between the teeth of the mammoths were found plants and grasses that do not grow now in northern Siberia .. (but are) .. now found in southern Siberia. Microscopic examination of the skin showed red blood corpuscles, which was proof not only of a sudden death, but that the death was due to suffocation either by gases or water.
    Was Velikovsky wrong? Not by a long shot.
    Recently more evidence, and more carcasses, have been unearthed, one in Finland, an episode that was published in Discovery magazine and on TV shows in 1999.
    I quote from the pages of the Troubled Times website.

    According to Discovery magazine, April 1999, the American Mastodon roamed here for about 4 million years until about 11,500 years ago. Another type, the Mammuthus primigenius, roamed around 400,000 years until 3,900 years ago. Both extinction times could be multiples of 3,600 years.

    The heyday of the woolly mammoth was the Pleistocene Epoch, stretching from 1.8 million years ago to the end of the last ice age 11,000 years ago. Mammoths thrived particularly well in Siberia, where dry grasslands once stretched for hundreds of miles, supporting a vibrant ecosystem of mammoths, bison, and other jumbo herbivores. ..

    The mammoth fossils on Wrangel Island are the youngest that have ever been found. It was there, apparently, that mammoths made their last stand. They died out only 3,800 years ago.

    Then, an excerpt from a recent Discovery program on the frozen mammoth carcasses:

    It had always been thought that the mammoth died out about ten thousand years ago, with the end of the ice age, but the tusk appeared to be 7,000 years old. It was so unlikely, so Buttanyan tested five more tusks, but the new dates pointed to an even more remarkable conclusion.

    Hidden up here [Rangell Island] in the Arctic, the mammoth hadn’t just survived the end of the ice age, it was walking these hills at the time of the Egyptian Pharaos, only 3500 years ago. This discovery has led to the re-examination of the complex chain of ’cause and effect’ that made mammoths die out everywhere else.

    And the Zetas state it is NO accident that their frozen state indicates the crust of the Earth moved INTO the polar circle.
    This is what happens during pole shifts.

    ZetaTalk: Mastodons, written on Jul 15, 2001
    The Mastodon [or mammoth] is a species that went extinct during the past few pole shifts, primarily when the grasslands they browsed in Siberia were drawn rapidly into the new polar circle. But where drawn into water and drown, and then far enough north, the Mastodons were flash frozen.

    If the Mastodons were not flash frozen, they would be in some sort of state of decay – perhaps the skin preserved, but the internal organs a mush. This is not the case, as your recent documentaries on the frozen state of these preserved beasts shows!

    So if flash frozen, and frozen steadily since that date, then how did the Mastodons get green grass and buttercups in their stomachs? A fast trot to the Arctic Circle? Does anyone presume they ate snow? These were herbivors! Their grasslands were moved during poles shifts.

    The remains of Mastodons that were not far enough into the polar circle to be completely frozen are bones and the ivory that has been harvested from the Ivory Islands for centuries. The bodies rotted, the Ivory did not. A wealth of ivory, with no flesh to disturb those shipping the tusks off to become piano keys.”

    Not to confuse the issue

    So, how far back does that hockey stick handle go without exceeding the horribly hot climate we are experiencing now?

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @boballab: OK, now I’m having trouble typing from the giggles I’ve got…. I got a “flash” image of this large herd of Mammoths, grazing contentedly on a warm grassland. The consistent sound of sporadic “mammoth farts” keeping things in balance. Then, one mammoth says “Guys, this is just gross. Here, everybody eat some of this dill, it’s a carminative. And as the last little fart fades in the distance, the snow begins to fall…

    So, let me get this straight, the official received wisdom is that the mammoths suddenly stopped farting and that was enough to bring on an ice attack so swift and severe that it frozen them fresh in their tracks? … Wow, those are some powerful farts…

    @Pyromancer76: Yes, that’s what the record shows. A very long gentle cooling drop, with a superimposed ‘wiggle’. And we are getting very excited about the ‘wiggle’ and not so much about the drop…


    if you look at the two graphs just after my part begins, you find isotope data from ice cores that show the gentle downward slope.

    One of my original positions was that we were warming due to CO2, but it was only just offsetting the fall into frozen. Now I’m more of the opinion that it’s the data that are cooked and IF there is a CO2 effect, it’s pretty darned minor and completely overwhelmed by changes in water vapor, the sun, and ocean currents. Our “peaks” are still colder than older peaks, and our ‘valleys’ are getting closer to the ‘runaway frozen’ that is the only ‘tipping point’ our present Ice Epoch knows.

    We sporadically and for a very short time geologically poke our noses up to a warm moment when the Milankovitch cycle is Just So, then immediately start the long slow decline back to ice. It’s just that form a 30 year long adult life span, that 10,000 year drop does not look like the plunge that it is, and the few hundred year ripples on that plunge look like mountains to climb.

  7. KevC says:

    Maybe these large herds of Mammoths were expelling something worse than methane as greenhouse gas, thus affecting the climate more.
    The only common gas that comes to mind, that is many times worse than methane, would be nitrous oxide – 289 times CO2 heating potential; aka laughing gas.
    Did these frozen Mammoths have smiles on their faces when they were discovered?

  8. LarryOldtimer says:

    A mammoth is a huge chunk of meat. Only a flash deep freeze could have preserved those mammoth remains as well as they are preserved.

    I read that the source of a great majority of ivory was mammoth tusks “mined” in Siberia prior to the Russian Revolution in 1917.

    I have read the works of Immanuel Velikovsky. Kooky hypothesis or not, it turned out that it was his “predictions” which turned out to right as time passed and more knoweledge was gained, and not what conventional scienctists have said.

    –Jupiter will be found to be emitting electromagnetic radiation
    –The moon will be found to have remnant magnetism.
    —The temperature of the surface Venus will be found to be closer to red hot as opposed to a “balmy” 130 or so degrees F

    I could go on and on, but Velikovsky was right and conventional science was wrong on all counts I can remember.

    So who will I take most seriously? The soothsayers who have been proved wrong all the time, or the soothsayer who has been proved to be right since about 1950 or so?

    To deny the obvious and clearly demonstrated is not scientific method.

    Newton bucked conventional thinking when he published “Principia mathematica” in 1687. It is a great read, and I sure wish more people with PhDs would read it and take heed.

    “For since the qualities of bodies are only known to us by experiments, we are to hold for universal all such as universally agree with experiments; and such as are not liable to, diminution can never be quite taken away. We are certainly not to relinquish the evidence of experiments for the sake of dreams and vain fictions of our own devising; nor are we to recede from the analogy of Nature, which [is] . . . simple, and always consonant to itself.”

  9. Lynn Clark says:

    There was an episode in Northern Exposure (one of my all-time favorite TV shows) in which the main character — transplanted New Yorker Dr. Joel Fleischman — was stunned when he discovered that one of the locals was butchering a thawed Mammoth carcass in the guy’s workshop. Dr. Fleishman considered it a magnificent scientific find. In typical Cicely, Alaska — the mythical town in which the series was located — fashion, none of the locals thought there was anything to be amazed about, many of them with freezers full of Mammoth steaks.

  10. crosspatch says:

    There have been several papers published recently concerning wood being exposed by the retreat of alpine glaciers in Europe, mostly Northern Italy and in Switzerland. They are finding the wood is 5000 to 7000 years old. Also, as the ice most likely transported the wood a considerable distance down slope, it would mean that the valleys where these glaciers are currently located were ice free in the not so distant past and were ice free long enough for the valley to have become forested.

  11. Ric Werme says:


    > … They are finding the wood is 5000 to 7000 years old. …


  12. Ric Werme says:

    1: August 24, 2010 at 8:10 am co2fan

    > … a discovery of a mammoth carcass, which had edible meat, and contained undigested plants in its stomach of a type which now (then, the book was published n the 50s) only grows 400 miles south from there.

    >I always found that strange, it implies a rapid climate shift.

    I looked into some of that while writing a web page on the movie “The Day after Tomorrow.” (Go to my web site to see why I named it 2016.)

    I found information about one young mammoth that still had grass in its mouth. Talk about sudden climate change, finds like that were some of the impetus for the movie. However, not so interesting. Well, interesting, but not that way. :-) notes

    “Before I arrived at the site, Herz had partially dug away the hill of earth round the body, and so both the forefeet and the hind feet were exposed. These lay under the body so that it rested on them. When one looked at the body one had the impression that it must have suddenly fallen into an unexpected fissure in the ice, which it probably came across in its wanderings, and which may have been covered with a layer of plant-bearing mould. After its fall the unlucky animal must have tried to get out of its hopeless position, for the right forefoot was doubled up and the left stretched forward as if it had struggled to rise. But its strength had apparently not been up to it, for when we dug it out still farther we found that in its fall it had not only broken several bones, but had been almost completely buried by the falls of earth which tumbled in on it, so that it had suffocated.

    “Its death must have occurred very quickly after its fall, for we found half-chewed food still in its mouth, between the back teeth and on its tongue, which was in good preservation. The food consisted of leaves and grasses, some of the later carrying seeds. We could tell from these that the mammoth must have come to its miserable end in the autumn.”

  13. Wayne Job says:

    Curioser and curioser are the facts that swim against the tide of consensus science. Velikovsky was brave and the debunkers were some what as the AGW believers are now. Facts always seem to get in the way of the truth, such a pity. Five to seven thousand year old wood coming out of a glacier, so before that time it was warmer,who would have thunk it! Whatever caused the demise of the mega fauna, it was drastic and world wide. In Oz we had Wombats as big as Volkswagons and Kangaroos that could clear a tall building in a single bound. Thus no more, and in a similar time frame to the other mega fauna. I am continually perplexed {not just from old age} by the lack of science in events of catastrophic proportions, that occurred in the recent past. These events happened at the dawn of our history, maybe Noahs flood is a real event. I think it is time for the scientific rebels to say NO, it ain’t neccessarily so.

  14. Louis Hissink says:

    One of the problems in freezing a mammoth in the tundra is stopping the bacterial decay in its gut. Modern refridgeration techniques have not been able to solve this problem, in that you cannot easily snap freeze an elephant.

    What ever killed the mammoths also had to kill the bacteria in their intestines to stop putrefaction, and it had to be associated with the freezing event.

  15. j ferguson says:

    It’s hard to suppose that anything that would have this result would be localized to a single mammoth – irradiation perhaps? So there must be a whole lot of irradiated-flash frozen mammoths out there as alluded to in E.M.’s observations above.

    Do the people in the mammoth recovery business worry about this?

  16. PhilJourdan says:

    2 observations:

    2) It was warmer then. (or they could not have gotten into the ice in the first place.)

    Not true! We all know the vikings used pick axes to bury them! ;)

    For the serious note – I liked the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” for the special effects. I am a weather freak, and those were some special storms! But if you recall the opening of the movie, Dennis Quaid is discovering that the last “ice age” was not due to gradual cooling, but by the change in the Gulf Stream. I will not debate the science behind that part of it. but what it does prove, since he was making these discoveries under an ice cap, is that it was WARMER then (before the sudden freeze) than it is now since those ice caps were not there.

    And I’ll pass on the mammoth burgers. They are probably freezer burned anyway.

  17. dougie says:


    how anybody with common sense can ignore tree line data always astounds me .
    how do they get away with being so coy on this?

  18. Brian H says:

    As a child, about 5 decades or more ago, I recall reading a Saturday Evening Post article on a theory ….

    A huge belch of very hot gas from a mega-volcano put a large “blob”of rarefied gas above the stratosphere. It cooled (radiatively?) and condensed, becoming heavier. At some point (over Siberia) it fell. It was super-cooled, and flash-froze many large animals near the center of the fall. Around the edges, incredible icy winds tore everything to shreds; pieces of frozen sabretooth and trees were supposedly found.

    The impact on climate was drastic. …. But here my memory fades. I was more interested in the Mammoths with frozen buttercups, and shredded sabretooths, I guess.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Brian H:

    Interesting idea. I have no idea how to validate it… but it does make for a good story. Given the sudden “way below” were getting this year up north, it’s clear that ‘things change’ and sometimes pretty fast…

  20. Brian H says:

    It may even have been from V. Much was made of the perfection of the freezing of the gut and there was technical discussion of how cold air would have had to be to achieve that. It was, IIRC, almost down to liquid nitrogen levels.

  21. Brian H says:

    I think “wind chill” came into it, too. Still cold air, like in a freezer, would not have the power to pull heat out of a large object fast enough. It had to be a hard, fast, unbroken flow. Or SLT.

  22. Brian H says:

    And more. Supposedly (don’t know if this is true) some are found upright, encased in ice. That would imply many things, not least of which would be very fast vapour congealing, to considerable depth. Note that the animals are not “crushed” by glacier encroachment, or even by gradual buildup of snow compressing into glacial ice.

    Very uncomfortable details for uniformity theories to handle.

    But the “shifting crust” doesn’t cut it either. That would certainly produce cooling, but not sudden deep freezing of mammoths. So the falling Cold Blob has a lot to recommend it.

  23. George says:

    Hmmm, wonder if the 1908 Tunguska event was any result of the 1907 Ksudach eruption.

    Ksudach volcano erupted on 28th March 1907. The eruption destroyed Shtyubel Volcano, leaving a tuff cone with a 1.5 km in diameter horseshoe-shaped crater filled with a deep lake. Ash fell 200 km from the volcano. The eruption produced 2.4 cubic km of tephra. The 1907 eruption was one of the major blast events of the 20th century, and produced a major Plinian column with widespread ash deposits.

    The eruption at Ksudach volcano can be divided into four phases. The first phase opened the vent and produced pyroclastic fallout. The second phase was a plinian eruption. The third phase involved a powerful directed blast towards the NNE. The fourth phase at Ksudach consisted of shallow hydromagmatic eruptions
    that produced five pyroclastic surge deposits with ash cloud surge beds to the west-northwest.

    Major eruptions in the Kamchatka have a disproportional effect on global climate, due to the low troposphere elevation at these latitudes, and the ease of dispersal of ash, aerosol, and gas.

    In other words, these volcanoes erupt spectacularly and the tropopause is at fairly low altitude there.

  24. George says:

    And maybe the Toba eruption could have caused something like what did in the mammoth.

  25. George says:

    Sort of a “macroburst” as opposed to a “microburst”

    One thing is that the tropopause gets closer to the surface the farther away you get from the equator. In winter at high latitudes, it can nearly reach the surface.

    But on further reflection, Tunguska showed charred trees at the center of the area, so it was not likely a “cold” event.

  26. Jason Calley says:

    Very interesting idea about the frigid air blobs.

    Tunguska,on the other hand, had witnesses close enough to report heat and blast, so we know that was not frigid air.

  27. neil swallow says:

    i cant beleive i missed this thread before .im still chuckling over mr smiths scenario.velikovsky is one of my heroes i discovered him while in my late teens. he is the original catastrophist and the velikovsky archive is a mine of information .his correspondence wth einstein is quite eyeopening and not long before his death einstein wrote to colleagues and urged them to investigate veliskovskys ideas of electricity in space . in the books earth in upheaval and worlds in collision he speaks about the mammoths in the ice as others above have noted but he also documents conglomerations of thousands of animal carcasses of species from different geographical locations all lumped together with whole trees and gravels in northern alaska and canada.worlds in collision was outlining his hypothesis earth in upheaval is the companion book documenting all these strange facts around the world. the man must have camped out in libraries for internet then .he did make some big blunders but carl sagan who hated him thought venus would be covered in jungle .nobody,s perfect.but whatever happened was pretty well worldwide so his worlds in collision is really no more wacky than any of the above ideas.up until meteorite impacts were accepted all the sciences were uniformitarian.

  28. P.G. Sharrow says:

    neil swallow: thank you for the link. It has been many years since reading Velikovsky. Much of what he wrote was way out there, but time has proved him right and his detractors wrong. I will renew my aquantice with him. pg

  29. neil swallow says:

    p.g.sharrow my pleasure.velikovsky being a polymath just saw the big picture but what sagan and his cronies did to him was despicable shades of the climategate would seem that theres nothing new under the sun .but as you say he,s had the last laugh

  30. Brian H says:

    There may have been a cluster of events; there was apparently a huge air-burst impact around 13kya over lower Hudson’s Bay that produced a firestorm across all of North America, wiping out pretty much all megafauna, including Pre-Clovis humans.

    Maybe that was the source of the Gas Blob, which later fell on Siberia?

  31. neil swallow says:

    brian h its a possibility the gravel trees and the animals documented by velikovsky seem indicative of a large tidal wave would have to have been on an unimaginal scale though to have come that far inland and swept up to the arctic circle

  32. Brian H says:

    I think Occam would slice’n’dice the tidal hypothesis pretty badly. Tidals have a specific “front” and direction; they’re not circular. AFAIK, you get very different debris mixes, too; mostly mud. But in any case, it was definitely a seriously non-uniformitarian event! (or events; there may be a related cluster. Big impacts have “rebound” effects, and impactors are often not solo objects.)

  33. j ferguson says:

    If digestion requires active bacteria, what else would stop them dead besides flash-freezing; a radiation burst that was insufficient to do visible heat damage but strong enough to kill the critters?

  34. George says:

    I suppose that is what bothers me about these frozen mammoths.

    1. These are large animals and require quite a bit of food to eat each day. So that would indicate that the area where they lived had quite a bit of forage. These animals are found with evidence they had been eating. Now maybe the stuff found in their belly isn’t what they would have preferred to eat, we just don’t know.

    2. The only other thing I can think if that would allow such preservation is falling into a bog. BUT, even then there would be some anaerobic decomposition. The level of preservation in these animals would indicate quick freezing. So maybe we are looking at a combination of two factors.

    We know the climate changed very rapidly. Maybe the area went from lush bog to frozen tundra in one season. And animal falls through the frozen crust of a bog in the process of freezing over and that freezing process continues after the animal has fallen in.

    That is about the only scenario I can thing of that would account for it. Animal falls through a skin of ice into pond or bog, ice continues to freeze. This interglacial being cooler than the last one, the area where the animal is entombed never warms back up to the level it was before and the animal remains frozen in permafrost.

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    The way I suspect things went down is fairly mundain.

    We have mamoths that get stuck in a very cold bog (as winter starts, but soem grasses and such still around to eat) and die from the fall. Bogs are cold, and if you fall in when it’s started to snow (i.e. was getting the last bit of forage before winter) you have something similar to what we do to food.

    Cool rapidly with ice water bath (in this case a ‘icewater bog’, followed by application of solid ice (snow).

    I don’t see as it needs “flash freezing” for the actual level of preservation observed (which is not as ‘perfect’ as some folks push); but just “rapid cooling” via icey water and then persistent freezing.

    The key,. IMHO, is icy water flow. We cool tons of food in minutes this way today.

  36. E.M.Smith says:


    They look like “melt artifacts” to me, but I’m not all that familar with them. Nature does a lot of ‘strange stuff’ without our needed to run to exotic explanations.

  37. Brian H says:

    No, your boggy explanation doesn’t cover the ring of wind-shredded frozen carcasses and tree trunks etc. surrounding the freeze-zones.

    Wondering if one of those dreaded clathrate super-releases could do it. CH4 is pretty light at atmospheric temps, and would set up some massive air outflow and then (if it did “bubble up” above the troposphere, perhaps to the very cold tropopause, which is very near the ground in the Arctic anyway) a massive inflow, followed by a huge air-burst outflow when it chilled to ~ -60°C and came down again!

    As for your conditioned uniformitarian reflex, EM, remember the counter-adage: “The universe is weirder than we imagine, or than we can imagine.”

    ;) ;p

    I think a few more discoveries like the K11 system (5 super-Earths, with light gas atmospheres, within a Mercury-size orbit, and another inside a Venusian range, around a slightly smaller version of the Sun) will begin to disabuse us of our parochialism in “permitting” various processes. It’s rational to say those hoofprints are probably horses’, but not rational to say they couldn’t possibly be from zebras. If you happen to be in Africa, those odds reverse, in any case. ;)

  38. George says:

    Actually, a post on Anthony’s site jogged a thought. It doesn’t take a lack of food to kill those animals, what it takes is a really hard freeze for about a week. Lack of water.

    The post was about the -31F temperature (real, not wind-chill) record low in Oklahoma today. Lowest temperature ever. Now imagine you are a grazing animal on the open plains and you get either an early or late cold snap of that sort. Say the animals had already begun to migrate North or had not yet started their migration South. Suddenly a very cold spell comes in. All the water holes freeze over.

    Now maybe there is a spring somewhere in a little pond or something, the water freezes around the edges, animal walks out on the ice to get a drink, ice is thin toward the middle and animal falls through, or maybe the animal just dies from dehydration on top of a frozen bog. Spring comes, bog thaws, animal sinks into it. Scavengers would have a field day if herds of such animals succumbed under such conditions.

    Also, it might only take a handful of such years to wipe out a species. If there was a sudden change in climate that resulted in winter being much harsher in their usual territory, a few such winters could wipe out an entire species in that area. There could be food all over. But if there is no snow and the water is frozen over (cold and dry) then the animals die. I wonder if the mammoth had less of a migratory range than the bison and that is why the bison survived while the mammoth died. Herds of buffalo would go from Texas to Montana and back. Maybe mammoth didn’t migrate so far. If their migratory range didn’t get them out of the danger area, they could well die from lack of water.

    Shattered trees … I have seen that happen from a late freeze. Sap starts to rise, brutal cold sets in, trunk freezes, tree snaps off in the wind.

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    @Brian H:

    You have just run head long off a cliff of unsupported conclusions:

    As for your conditioned uniformitarian reflex, EM, remember

    I have no such “conditioning” and no such “reflex”. The better description of my belief system would be “Punctuated equilibrium with drift over time; but subject to all sorts of outside effects.”

    Or perhaps more shortly: “Uniformitarian with drift and the occasional Big Bang! along with sporadic littler bangs”.

    However, I do need some actual evidence before I’m willing to run off and conclude that something spectacular happened.

    So, for example, I’m pretty darned sure a large Rock From Space hit the ice shield and pretty much did in every large mammal in North America along with the Clovis People.

    But as we have plenty of evidence for large animals getting stuck in bogs and dying of cold, then freezing, I just don’t see where I need something ‘exceptional’. The reports of ‘fresh grass in their mouths and stomachs” have generally turned into “partially digested plant matter of unknown type” on detailed investigation.

    So take a herd that gets stuck somewhere (via a peninsula becoming an island as the ice sheet melts?) and then dies in the increasiningly harsh cold, burried in snows that don’t leave. Fits all the known facts. Simplest. I’m good with that.

    BTW, I’ve never found any real evidence for “wind shredded frozen carcasses and tree trunks”. But frankly, i’d be more inclined to think things froze then some years (centuries?) later some rock from space hit the ice hearby and put a shock wave through them. Wind just doesn’t “shred” frozen things very well at all…

    I think my ‘bottom line’ is this:

    I’ve played with liquid nitrogen. I’ve played with liquid propane (rather a lot… figured out how to get it out of the BBQ bottle at about age 8 ;-) I’ve worked in all sorts of freezers and I’ve spent a load of time out in the snow and woods.

    You are simply not going to get a Mammoth to flash freeze even WITH liquid nitrogen unless you have a couple of freight cars full of it and a nice retort (itself already cooled).

    With a gas flowing over it, even less so, and no matter how cold you make the gas (not enough mass flow).

    Now, put your side of beef in a flowing ice water bath and you can get it down to ‘near freezing’ refridgerated temperatures very fast. Then let it freeze that night and you are in the ‘inch an hour’ club. At that point to freeze the legs and head we’re looking at one night. Thorax maybe 2 days. And since it’s already at 33 F, decay will not be a problem.

    So I’m just looking at it and I see one easy process using nothing out of the ordinary other than ‘cold comes and doesn’t leave in spring’ vs the other that needs “Stranger Than Fiction!!!”… WHICH I’m quite willing to embrace, as long as I need to go there based on the evidence and I just don’t see any evidence that requires it.

    So please don’t confuse ‘rational use of normal processes’ with “uniformitarian bias”. The former is what I do. The latter is not. ( In particular, I fully embrace non-uniformitarian genetics as we have plenty of polyploidy examples and we have plenty of cross species crosses making new species ‘instantly’…)

    OH, and one note on Zebra: I use them as an example with folks new to California in a parable when I want to disparage the “think horses” rote. I ask them if they were near the coast about 2/3 of the way to L.A. and heard hoofbeats, should they think Zebra or Horses? When everyone says “Horses!” I point out there are wild Zebra in California that escaped from Hearst Castle zoo and they need to be more open to the unexpected.

    So be open to it. Just don’t run to embrace it too fast… There ARE horses in California too…

  40. Brian H says:

    I don’t bother trying to explain my predilictions every time I post, it would be boring and prolix.

    But the short form is more or less like this: if the Standard Theory has some notable unexplained holes, and an alternative seems to handle the holes much better, then it’s worth putting some effort into elaborating such alternatives and seeing if they can be made into more complete theories. The Standard Models of the world have had untold resources poured into polishing and elaborating and patching. It seems only fair to give the occasional Alternate Model at least a fractional fair shot at it.

    So my “enthusiasms” for such Alternates don’t indicate acceptance or “belief”. Just putting some effort into swimming against the flow. I take it as a “null hypothesis” that a Standard Model is wrong in some significant aspect if it is far past the point of diminishing returns in trying to resolve some significant “exceptions to the rule(s)”. Since, necessarily, it is unknown what the paradigm change that moves beyond the known unknowns is, it seems pointless to attack Alternatives when they are in their tentative juvenile stages. Build them up and see how far they can grow — THEN attack them.

  41. neil swallow says:

    sorry to drag up an old post but thought this link might be relevant .warning very long post but i found it fascinating.hope you enjoy. heres the link neil swallow

  42. George says:

    I like the article, but I believe impacts get the credit for more changes than they are actually responsible for. It is pretty easy to blame some nebulous “impact” for something like that but we don’t really know just how variable our star is over scales of millions of years. There could be lots of reasons why we went into the Younger Dryas. But consider for a moment … what might have caused the absolutely astounding climb in temperature from the coldest portion of the last glacial to almost modern day temperatures in the span of one human’s lifetime? Sure, maybe an impact caused the cooling of the Younger Dryas, but what caused the warming immediately preceding? And why did we come out of the Younger Dryas so quickly?

    We see evidence of massive temperature variation on a decadal scale during the period when temperatures were first coming out of the glacial. We see evidence of modern warmth spreading far North for 10 or 15 years, only to see a return of ice age conditions again for another 10 or 20 years before warming up again.

    A population of people or animals can migrate in 10 or 15 years to a place so far North that if glacial conditions return, they can not make it back to a place where they can get food. It could be that people and animals were drawn Northward and trapped there by cold from which they could not escape on foot.

    Climate seems to become very unstable right about the time it switches modes. Even within a glacial, there are often warm periods of a century or less.

    It is easy to blame an impact for cooling. Where do we place the “blame” for the immediately preceding warming?

  43. E.M.Smith says:

    @Neal Swallow:

    I leave the comments open on “old” threads as I hope folks will find them interesting for a very long time, and have reason to “add something”. So no need to “feel sorry”, it’s a “feature” ;-)

    Interesting article. Yeah, I remember in geology class having the discussion about “catastrophism vs gradualism or uniformitarianism” and how it has been all SOOOooo contentious once… and wondering what made them think it had to be one or the other? Then we moved on to “punctuated gradualism” or some such and I thought “OK, so they finally figure out ‘shit happens’ while things are slowly changing…”

    The article is a great example of just how wrong “concensus science” can be.

    FWIW, I’m facinated by the Clovis event and I’m pretty sure it was an ice impacting asteroid / comet impact (based on the lack of evidence, mostly, so that this guy is finding ‘things on the ground’ makes it very interesting).

    Where do you look for the crater in a mile deep ice sheet that is now gone?

    I do find his analysis of the Mexican rocks rather compelling… The “widening upwards” V erosional patterns, in particular, look “odd” for water driven events. There is just something “wrong” with the space from a “water did it” view, but very right from a “blowtorch” view…

    His analysis of the Candian Shield / Minnesota is just stunning. I’ve been there, and the standard explanation always left a bad taste… but I didn’t bother to “think it through” and look for a bigger picture. He makes it taste right…

    It ought to be easy enough to test his hypothesis, as there ought to be clear indicia in the sedements of the lakes and oceans of North America… a “discontinuity” at the 13,000 year marker.


    My thesis is that in our present regime, we are “heat limited” by water evaporation. Add more heat in, get more convective cooling. At the other extreme, during glacials, we are ‘freeze limited’. So much water gets sucked out of the air that convection and precipitation are limits on heat dumping. So at some point the increasingly white albedo runs out of room to whiten, while the dry air is dumping ever less heat, and you just can’t get it much colder.

    During the “in between” stage, you can have high ranges of albedo, convection and precipitation, and the attendent heat flow. They are the highly undtable mid-range of the system where there is not enough hysteresis to make it filp in a stable way into one extreme or the other.

    So one year is warmer, a hell of a lot of water evaporates from the ocean and falls as snow all over N. H. and you cool right back down… Not yet “latched up” in the ‘hot mode’, but not enough to latch up in the “cold mode” either. Eventually, a big rain (instead of a big snow) melts enough snow and ice that the albedo goes dark and the added evaporation falls as rain, not snow, so the air stays relatively moist, and we ‘latch up’ into this state. (Going the other way, a cold year comes and we latch up into more white albedo and dryer air and plunge into the cold end).

    If I’m right, we’ll know we are re-entering a glacial cycle by, first off, much wilder swings of annual rain, snow, and temperatures. But with sporadic years of a lot of snow and more ground coverage. Then, when the rains slack off and the average humidity starts to drop, “look out”…

  44. George says:

    I think what I was trying to point out was that in the context of the time, the Younger Dryas was not so much a dramatic change as it was what looks like an attempt to return to the normal of the past 100,000 years. It is the warmth on either side of it that is abnormal. Our climate condition, the interglacial, is the abnormal time and the glacial is the “normal”.

  45. E.M.Smith says:


    If we where whacked by the amout of stuff that the quoted article indicates, we were headed for a nuclear winter in any case.

    It would also explain the “flash frozen” mammoth meat, though …

    Per Milankovitch, it’s getting all of [ Obliquity, eccentricity, and Precession ] in just the one configuration that melts the north polar cap that gives us an interglacial. Every other configuration leaves enough snow to have the albedo white enough that we don’t melt…

    At the “shoulders” leading into that configuration, it ought to be easy for an external event like a nuclear winter to put us back in the freezer. One it an interglacial, the heat gain limits on extra water evaporation / rain dumping heat convectively. Once in a frozen state, we limit on the lack of such cycling.

    But yes, during the “glacial” phase, it jumps up and down more (even more than that during the shoulder part). Most interglacials are one sharp peak, then back down again. This one looks like the peak was clipped (same width to the interglacial, just the top clipped off on the overshoot) probably by the comet event…

  46. George says:

    What I also find interesting, is why we don’t find frozen animals from past glaciations, why only from the last one. Many of these flash frozen mammoths are not from the Younger Dryass, though. I can think of lots of reasons for “flash frozen mammoths” though. Such as a bog or pond that has glazed over with ice, mammoth walks on it, falls through, drowns or becomes trapped in the bog. Pond eventually silts in if a pod. Bingo, you have a flash frozen mammoths.

    Most of the remains are from well after the Younger Dyas. If they are trapped in what is now permafrost, they must have been trapped at a time when the climate was warmer and when the permafrost level was significantly deeper than it is now. I would posit that these animals were trapped in the fall when they walked across a frozen crust of a bog/pond and fell through.

    Other specimens died long before the Yonger Dryas. One I recently read about was estimated to be 23,000 years old. That would place the entrapment some 10,000 years before the Younger Dryas. Another specimen was aged at some 10,000 years ago, about 1500 years after the end of the Younger Dryas. Others have been found to be 40,000 years old. The point is that we don’t find a concentration of mammoth remains that are contemporary with the Younger Dryas. They are scattered all over the place from between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago.

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