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The ivory islands - mammoths

  1. Sep 24, 2012 #1
    I tend to focus on the newest studies in order to understand what happened in the past, however sometimes old material makes it clear that we will probably not find out, due to the actions of our previous generations.

    For instance during the https://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Vega-...1348480198&sr=8-1&keywords=Voyage+of+the+Vega of the Vega it was discovered that the north of Siberia and the islands was littered with mammoth remains.

    This is reported by D.G. Whitley in "The ivory islands of the Arctic ocean" an article published in the 'Journal of the transactions of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Brittain' in 1910. Withley documented the trip and collected more tales about the abundance of bones and ivory.

    More later
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2012 #2
    The PDF I have doesn't allow copying, although it can't be copyright, so I type quote a few sentences

    No problem with that; about the mummies:

    Rather unlikely since the mummies that are found today are more like peat mummies preserved by soil acids.

    There is myth working in action. Totally wrong. you will see that a modern research paper like McDonald et al 2000 find trees at the place at the time that it was supposed to have never thawed.

    Note that there is a reason for my signature :wink:
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  4. Sep 24, 2012 #3
    What also was discovered things like:
    That's the problem, large armies of mammoth hunters roamed the area to clear it out in the former centuries. Moreover, seeing the inaccuracies of some assumptions, that makes the whole article unreliable. So now it's impossible to find out,

    -what the real density of the bones was per area,
    -if the specimens were in situ
    -if the specimens would have the same or different carbon dates
    -ditto isotope ratios like δ18O δ13C, δ15N indicators for multiple things, health, food type,

    And ultimately what caused such an abundance? A catastrophe or merely transport of carcasses and remains with rivers and shallow seas, which may have lasted years due to the modest temperatures?

    It also means that what we find today may be disturbed by centuries of mammoth hunting, less useable bones and tusked tossed away by the hunters, and hence less suitable for reconstructions of the Pleistocene past.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  5. Sep 30, 2012 #4
    should the caracasses be transported to the burial ground by water, then you might want to guess the flow was torrential enough to carry them. the matrix of a sedimentary rock in torrential water is uneven, and random sizes of granules make such a matrix. if you see such kind of rockbed, you might guess a transportation. should the caracases be transported by glacier (which i would expect to happen as the ice age starts to retreat, because during the ice age, poles are further from the sun, and the precision motion decreases the angle to which earth is inclined, forcing a stabler, colder climate in the poles, and in such condition ice is stable, and would hardly move.)

    If the stuff is being carried by glaciers as an ice age retreats, i would expect the glaciers to loose their carrying capacity where they meet the arctic sea, and dump their load there, as ice melts into many tiny stream each of which has little power, this will also bring caracasses frm all over the land.

    Since mammoth hunters were around during the ice age, i would expect them to stay below the polar circles, to 1. avoid blizzards from the polar winds - the westerlies will stop it in lower latitudes (ice covered crust would be smooth t let wind flow over the land) and 2. to have a proper day-night cycle.

    I dont know much about those fossils, thats not my specialization, but it is interesting to investigate it...
  6. Oct 7, 2012 #5
    But sometimes we are lucky

    On a side note..

    Now why would you find a well preserved carcass, killed by ice age humans and next they omit to eat it? Then why would they have killed it in the first place? But that's another discussion.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  7. Oct 7, 2012 #6
    Sorry that I ooverlooked your post

    No there was no ice in North center and east Siberia during the last glacial maximum, see for instance Hubberten et al 2004

    I'm not aware of much archeologic evidence of abundant Clovis-like human presence in North Siberia, except for some exceptions, hardly enough to explain ivory islands.

    The water transport is interesting. One may wonder though, if it requires some kind of catastrophy. For instance another very rich mammoth fauna site is the North Sea, of which a friend of mine speculates that (floating) carcasses were transported there by the rivers

    Obviously without further evidence no hypothesis.
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