....In even the most prejudiced murder trial there is one essential element: there has to have been a killing. Fancy legal terminology generally requires a body the corpus delictus as the TV detec- tive shows are fond of telling us. It would seem reasonable, if one was to promulgate a theory of blitzkrieg slaughter as have Martin and Diamond, to identiiy where the bodies are buried and then take the reader on a gut-wrenching tour through a graveyard of waste and butchery. We are deprived of this vicarious thrill because the evidence of the destruction of the megafiuna suggests a scenario well outside the orthodox interpretation of benign natural processes. Therefore mere mention of the reality of the situation is anathema to most scholars. So let us see what the actual situation is.
The first explorers of the northern shores of Siberia and its offshore northern islands and of the interior of Alaska, and some of its northern islands, were stunned to discover an astro- nomical number of bones of prehistoric animals piled indis- criminately in hills and buried in the ground. The graveyards of these animals were classified as "antediluvian" (prior to Noah's flood) by the majority of scientists and laypeople alike who still believed the stories of the Old Testament. Near these grave- yards, incidentally, but located in riverbanks on the northern shore of Siberia, are found the famous Siberian mammoths whose flesh was supposedly edible when thawed.
Reading an extensive set of quotations is always tedious to readers but I hope you will bear with me in this chapter be- cause it is only in the repetition of the reports of the discoveries of these areas that the entire picture of the demise of the mam- moths and other creatures really becomes clear. These Siberian remains are not the thousands of mammoth bones which Jared Diamond thinks are searched frantically by archaeologists seek- ing signs of human butchering. It is doubtful that any archaeol- ogists or paleontologists have made extensive studies of the skeletons in these locations or we would certainly have a far different view of megafauna extinction than is presently ac- ceptable to orthodox scholars.
Russian expeditions to Siberia and the northern islands of the Arctic Ocean began in the latter half of the eighteenth cen- tury, and with the discovery of these large mounds of animal bones, most prominently the tusks of mammoths and other herbivores, franchises were given to enterprising people who could harvest the ivory for the world market. Liakoff seems to have been the first iniportant ivory trader and explorer in the late eighteenth century. After his death the Russian govern- ment gave a monopo~ to a businessman in Yakutsk who sent his agent, Sannikofi, to explore the islands and locate additional sources of ivory. Sannikoff's discoveries of more islands and his reports on the animal remains found there are the best firsthand accounts of the Siberian animal graveyards.
Hedenstrom explored the area in 1809 and reported back on the richness of the ivory tusks. Sannikoff discovered the island of Kotelnoi, which is apparently the richest single location, in 1811. Finally, the czar decided to send an official expedition and from 1820 to 1823, Admiral Ferdinand Wrangell, then a young naval lieutenant, did a reasonably complete survey of the area. Since these expeditions and explorations were inspired by commercial interests and not scientific curiosity; the reports are entirely objective with no ideological or doctrinal bias to slant the interpretation of the finds.
Around the turn of the century interest in the Siberian is- lands seems to have increased, whether as a result of the few Christian fundamentalists who were not reconciled to evolu- tion frantically searching for tangible proof of Noah's flood, or as part of the leisure activities of the English gendemen of the time, we can't be sure. The definitive article on the Siberian prehistoric animal remains was written by the Reverend D. Gath Whitley and published by the Philosophical Society of Great Britain under the title "The Ivory Islands in the Arctic Ocean." It drew on older sources, primarily reports of expedi- tions of the ivory traders, and captured the spectacular nature of the discoveries well.
Liakoff discovered, on an island that now bears his name, rather substantial cliffs composed primarily of frozen sand and hundreds of elephant tusks. Later, when the Russian govern- ment sent a surveyor, Chwoinoff, to the island he reported that, with the exception of son~e high mountains, the island seemed to be composed of ice and sand and bones and tusks of ele- phants (or mammoths) which were simply cemented together by the cold.Whitley reported:
Sannikoff explored Kotelnoi, and found that this large
island was full of the bones and teeth of elephants, rhi-
noceroses, and musk-oxen. Having explored the coasts,
Sannikoff determined, as there was nothing but bar-
renness along the shore, to cross the island. He drove in
reindeer sledges up the Czarina River, over the hills,
and down the Sannikoff River, and completed the cir-
cuit of the island.All over the hills in the interior of the
island Sannikoff found the bones and tusks of ele-
phants, rhinoceroses, buffaloes, and horses in such vast
numbers, that he concluded that these animals must
have lived in the island in enormous herds, when the
climate was milder.5
Hedenstrom explored Liakoff's island in 1809 and discov- ered that". .. the quantity of fossil ivory . . . was so enormous, that, although the ivory diggers had been engaged in collecting ivory from it for forty years, the supply seemed to be quite undiminished. On an expanse of sand little more than half a mile in extent, Hedenstrom saw ten tusks of mammoths stick- ing up, and as the ivory hunters had left these tusks because there were still other places where the remains of mammoths were still more abundant, the enormous quantities of elephants' tusks and bones in the island may be imagined?' Indeed, a number of explorers reported that after each ocean storm the beaches were littered with bones and tusks which had been ly- ing on the sea bottom and brought to shore by wave action.
The elephant or mammoth bones and tusks were the most spectacular finds primarily because they were so plentiful and consequently they attracted public attention the most. The is- lands contained an incredible mixture of bones of many extinct and some living species of mammals. Mixed with the animal bones were trees in all kinds of conditions. Whitley quoted some of the Russian explorers as reporting "it is only in the lower strata of the New Siberian wood-hills that the trunks have that position which they would assume in swimming or sinking undisturbed. On the summit of the hills they lie flung upon another in the wildest disorder, forced upright in spite of gravitation, and with their tops broken off or crushed, as if they had been thrown with great violence from the south on a bank, and there heaped up?'7
A few conclusions can be drawn from the reports of the Russian ivory traders. First, it appeared that several reasonably large islands were built primarily of animal bones, heaped in massive hills and held together by frozen sand. To indicate the scope of the debris, we should note that all of these islands are found on modern maps of the area, indicating that we are not talking about little tracts of land of limited area. Second, the sea floor north of Siberia and surrounding the islands was covered with so many additional bones that it was worthwhile for the ivory traders to check the beaches after every storm to gather up tusks and other bones.
Third, and very important for estimating the scope of the disaster, the ivory was of outstanding quality, so much so that the area provided most of the world's ivory for over a century. Estimates of the number of tusks taken from the islands range in the neighborhood of 100,000 pairs taken between the 1770s and the 1900s. Whitley noted that Sannikoff himself had brought away 10,000 pounds of fossil ivory from New Siberia Island alone in 1809.9- In reality; however, only about a quarter of the ivory was of commercial grade, so the true figure must approach half a million pairs of tusks.
Fourth, an amazing variety of animals, many extinct, were mixed with the mammoth and rhinoceros bones, although these two animals have become symbolic of the whole menagerie. Fifth, trees, plants, and other floral materials were in- discriminately mixed with the animal remains, sometimes lead- ing the Russians to suppose that the islands represented a sunken isthmus or broad stretch of land where these animals and the companion plants lived in a warmer climate. The chaotic na- ture of stratification of the remains soon abused that notion.
Finally, it is important to note that none of the bones of any of the species had carving or butchering marks made by human beings. N. K.Vereshchagin wrote: "The accumulations of mam- moth bones and carcasses of mammoth, rhinoceros, and bison found in frozen ground in Indigirka, Kolyma, and Novosibirsk lands bear no trace of hunting or activity of primitive man. Here large herbivorous animals perished and became extinct because of climatic and geomorphic changes, especially changes in the regime of winter snow and increase in depth of snow cover."9 The "climatic and geomorphic changes" must have been very sudden indeed and exceedingly violent, consid- ering the fact that these bones are always described as "heaps" of material deposited as if they had been thrown into a pile by an incredibly strong force.
The testimony regarding the richness of the animal remains in the Arctic north of the continental masses is not restricted to Russian sources. Stephen Taber, writing in his report "Perenni- ally Frozen Ground in Alaska: Its Origins and History," had this to say about the Siberian islands:
Pfizenmayer [citation omittedj states that in the New Siberia island collectors have "found inexhaustible sup- plies of mammoth bones and tusks as well as bones and horns of rhinoceros and other diluvial mammals"; and Dr. Bunge, during expeditions in the summers of 1882-1884, "gathered almost two thousand five hun- dred first class mammoth tusks on the new Siberian is- lands of Lyakhov; Kotelnyi, and Fadeyev;" although many collectors had previously obtained ivory from the islands since their discovery in 1770 by Lyakhov.~~
It would seem obvious to anyone seriously pursuing the question of the demise of the mammoth and the other mega- herbivores that a good place to locate the bodies to determine the cause of their demise would be the islands north of the Siberian peninsula. Yet we hear not a word about them in sci- entific articles and books concerning the overkill hypothesis.
When we inquire if the Alaskan area has similar deposits, we learn that the situation is the same. Early gold miners in Alaska discovered that in many cases they had to strip off a strange de- posit popularly called "muck" in order to get to the gold-bearing gravels.The muck was simply a frozen conglomerate of trees and plants, sand and gravels, some volcanic ash, and thousands if not milhons of bits of broken bones representing a wide variety of late Pleistocene and modern animals and plants.
Two scholars describe the scenes of destruction and chaos which the muck represents. Frank Hibben, in an article survey- ing the evidence of early man in Alaska, said that while the for- mation of muck was not clear,". . . there is ample evidence that at least portions of this material were deposited under cata- strophic conditions. Mammal remains are for the most part dis- membered and disarticulated, even though some fragments yet retain in this frozen state, portions of llgaments, skin, hair, and flesh. Twisted and torn trees are piled in splintered masses con- centrated in what must be regarded as ephemeral canyons or arroyo cuts."'1
Stephen Taber's report echoes the same conditions. He says: "Fossil bones are astonishingly abundant in frozen ground of Alaska, but articulated bones are scarce, and complete skeletons, except for rodents that died in their burrows, are almost un- known."'2 Many laypeople will be confused by this technical language and fail to grasp what Taber is saying, allowing him to imply a benign orthodox interpretation when the situation re- quires that a clearer picture be drawn.
When a scholar says "articulation" of bones he means an arrangement of bones that a person observing them would identify as a complete skeleton and from which an experienced observer could identify the species.To say that articulated bones are scarce, then, means that the bones are scattered and mixed so badly that expert examination is needed to idemify even the bone itself, let alone the species from which it comes. Remem- ber this problem of articulation, for we shall meet it again in another context. Taber concludes with the observation that "the dispersal of the bones is as striking as their abundance and indicates general destruction of soft parts prior to burial."13 In other words,Alaskan muck is a gigantic pile of bones represent- ing a bewildering number of species, a good number of them the megafauna I have been discussing.
We find the missing megafauna of the late Pleistocene in the Siberian islands, in the islands north ofAlaska, and in the muck in the Alaskan interior. Obviously we have here victims of an immense catastrophe which swept continents and left the de- bris in the far northern latitudes piled in jumbled masses that now form decent-sized islands. Most anthropologists and ar- chaeologists avoid discussing these deposits because the ortho- dox uniformitarian interpretation of the natural processes precludes sudden unpredictable actions.......