Could the mammoth still be alive today?
The mammoth is a giant elephant species often pictured with long curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived during the Pleistocene era from 1.6 million to about 10,000 years ago. Their remains have been found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America and in Siberia frozen whole specimens have been discovered
They are related to the modern Asian Elephant in genetic lines. The Asian elephants and mammoths are thought to have diverged about 5.5 - 6.3 million years ago.
It is thought mammoths died out at the end of the last Ice Age. A definitive explanation for their mass extinction is still not decided. (N.B.The dwarf mammoths of Wrangel Island only became extinct around 1700 to 1500 BC). Various theories for their extinction include being hunted by humans, a disease or climate change
The survival of the dwarf mammoths on Russia's Wrangel Island was due to the fact that the island was very remote, and uninhabited in the early post-Pleistocene period.
The actual island was not discovered by modern civilization until the 1820s by American whalers. A similar dwarfing occurred with Mammoths on the outer Channel Islands of California, but at an earlier period. Those animals were very likely killed by early Paleo-Native Americans.
In the late 19th century, there were (according to Bengt Sjögren 1962) many rumours about surviving mammoths hiding in Alaska. In October 1899, Henry Tukeman said he had killed a mammoth in Alaska, and donated the specimen to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The museum denied the existence of any such mammoth corpse, and it was thought to be a hoax. Also in the 19th century, several reports of "large shaggy beasts" were passed on to the Russian authorities by Siberian tribesman, but no proof ever surfaced. A French charge d´affaires working in Vladivostok, M. Gallon, claimed in 1946 that in 1920 he met a Russian fur-trapper that claimed to have seen living giant, furry "elephants" deep into the taiga. Gallon added that the fur-trapper didn't have knowledge about mammoths before, and that he talked about the mammoths as a forest-animal at a time when they were seen as living on the tundra and snow (Sjogren, 1962). There was an alleged Soviet Air Force sighting during World War II, but this was not verified by a second sighting.
For a scientific view of the date of extinction see here:
Radiocarbon Dating Evidence for Mammoths on Wrangel Island, Arctic Ocean, until 2000 BC.S. L. VARTANYAN.Wrangel Island State Reserve, 686870 Ushakovskoye, Magadan Region, RussiaKh. A. ARSLANOV, T. V. TERTYCHNAYA and S. B. CHERNOV
Geographical Research Institute, St. Petersburg State University, Sredniy Prospect 41, 199004 St. Petersburg, Russia
In modern times there had been reports of large unusual elephants in remote forested regions of Nepal. Two bull elephants were discovered, both being much larger than modern elephants, the largest of the two being around 3.7 meters at the shoulder and weighing roughly 7 tonnes.
The size alone makes them interesting, but what's odd is their appearance, as they have the characteristic sloped back of the mammoth with a twin domed head.
A report in 1992, by British explorer Sir John Blashford-Snell , contained further evidenc of these giant elephants. He was exploring a remote valley in the Bardia region of western Nepa. He found two examples of these strange elephants, both bulls, and observed and photographed them . The two giant elephants were said to have footprints measuring 22.5 inches across and a height 11 feet 3 inches. The presence of two very large domes on each elephant's forehead, and a distinctive nasal bridge was noted. These two features have only been seen before on an extinct species of primitive elephant, the Stegodont.
Scientists have taken an interest in the Nepalese elephants as they may be able to clone a mammoth :
Penn State biologists are in the process of studying the woolly mammoth genome from hair samples, the animal of the elephant genus mammuthus, thought to be extinct, but found in Nepal are small herds of giant elephants, about a foot taller than the asian elephants, and these nepal giants, very interestingly, have the same crowned cranium crests as the mammoths, not found in the asian and african elephants which are thought to be the only survivng genuses of animals, so since asian and african elephants can hybridize, and the asian elephants are said to be genetically very similar to the mammoth, we can expect the biological capability for hybridization of certainly the nepalese elephant, and probably the asian elephant, with a clone from the recovered mammoth genes, should such a creature be made in the laboratory. see here:
So an interesting thought about the mammoth perhaps not extinct but a version of the species living in Nepal? It is possible and opens up the way for lots more creatures thought to be extinct to be found. Exciting isn’t it?