Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mastodon Sightings

As I have posted before on the possible presence of a living mastodon, however unlikely that may seem, we now get to read these items outlining the history of mastodon sightings in the Americas.  It becomes apparent that remnant populations existed right up to and well past first contact.

The animals were clearly hunted using traditional methods, but once the use of firearms became possible, they were quickly wiped out. The remaining question is whether any were able to survive in refugia anywhere to this day.  What I find extremely encouraging is that it was oh so recent.  During the past four centuries, the native population of hunters was also in severe decline, making refugia a good survival bet for a forest dweller that remained cautious.

The mastodon relied on forest growth rather than grasses and this provided a natural edge.  If it happened to be able to eat evergreens, then its winter fodder is also taken care of.  Thus a mastodon could live in a surprisingly small range as long as ample forest existed to browse on.  That still left plenty of oversized game trails and large footprints to stumble over but I no longer will argue that it is impossible.

Any refugia will need to be mountain terrain as agriculture must not be possible and distance from human activity is necessary.  Thus we will have to look closely in some of the deepest nooks of the country.  Besides, the animal is smart and will have no trouble hiding in woodland, where it is possible to hide a few feet away.  One may have to get close enough to hear the sound of its browsing and that may not be so easy.

It is also observed that the five toed llama is also a recent extinction and it appears that in Central America, the mastodon was kept as a pet in at least one instance.  This suggests that the mastodon may be fairly easy to domesticate.  That could turn out to be actually a benefit to woodland management in keeping forests open.

Extinct Llamas and Elephants - Village Pets


According to conventional theory, the camel family appeared on the scene in Eocene times, and then underwent rapid changes. By Oligocene times (26-38 million years ago) the feet were two-toed, the other three toes having completely disappeared. Also in the camel family are the llamas which have two toes, but at a very early stage of their evolution they had five (Colbert, 1955, p.386).

The Tiahuanacan empire in Bolivia predates the Incas. About 1920 an archaeologist was digging in the ruins of two coastal sites which belonged to this empire. Here he came upon pottery jugs with representations of llamas. The llamas had five toes, which seemed most strange, since by no stretch of the imagination could the Tiahuanacan civilization be made out to be that old. According to theory man evolved many millions of years after the last five-toed llama lived.

The mystery deepened when the same archaeologist discovered the skeletons of llamas at the sites, all with five toes (Honore, 1964, p.164-165).

The mastodon elephant arrived in America during the Miocene epoch, according to the texts, multiplied astonishingly, and then became extinct. Assorted explanations have been offered, including the theory that early hunters wiped them all out. Various dates, for example, 4500 B.C., are given when the last elephant in America died. A far more recent date is suggested by the following. Near Concordia, Columbia, a complete skeleton of a mastodon was found in an artificial salt pond, which had been constructed by Indians. The pond, with its bottom of paved stones together with the animal, had been entombed by a sudden landslide (Victoria Institute, 1886, 22:151).

Rock carvings of the mastodon was found in Hava Supai Canyon, Arizona, and were believed to date back to 10,000 B.C. In the same location, however, utensils were found made out of live, not fossil, ivory, which could lower the date considerably (Santesson, 1970, p.39).

In 1929 the skeleton of a mastodon was found in Ecuador. Evidently killed by Indians, a circle of fires had been built around the body for convenient roasting of the flesh. A landslide covered the site, which also included broken painted pottery and artifacts. This remarkable find was dated at the beginning of the Christian era (Scott, 1962, p.261).

In 1928 a Mayan workshop was uncovered in Central America. The archaeologist concluded that the owner of the shop, dated from the second to the fourth century A.D., must have kept a mastodon, perhaps even as a pet, for the bones of the animal were found among smashed bowls and jars (Wendt, 1956, p.524-525).

One paleontologist believed that mammoths still lived in the interior of the American continent at the time of the first Spanish explorers. He supported his belief by the fact that such bones are found under a few inches of peat. Many accurate descriptions of the elephant have been collected from various Indian tribes in America and Canada (Scientific Monthly , 75 [Oct. 1952], 215-221).

David Ingram, an English adventurer, was put ashore with 113 other men between Mexico and Florida in 1568, and he wandered for years in the American interior before making his way to the east coast of the American colonies. In his report to the state secretary of Queen Elizabeth, he described precisely and drew accurate pictures of elephants as well as bison and other animals he and his companions had observed during the journey. Ingram could not have known that some centuries later, elephant bones (mastodons and mammoth) would be discovered all over the continent. This account is not taken seriously, but it is a curious fact that 200 years later President Jefferson was informed by a delegation of Indian chiefs that hunting in the interior lands included animals described as elephants. It is a matter of record that President Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark to be on the alert for elephant herds during their exploration of the West (Wendt, 1956, p.525-526).

The curious reports above fit in well with the concept of a young earth. There seems to be no need to invoke an old earth to explain any of the finds.
This page last updated 6/5/1999

No comments: