Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 87: May-Jun 1993

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Late Survival Of Mammoths

Many a sensational article has been written about how the Siberian mammoth population was deep-frozen by a sudden climate change due to a shift in the earth's poles or some other catastrophic event circa 10,000 years ago. But now, Russian scientist A. Sher and two colleagues claim that a dwarf version of the wooly mammoth survived on Wrangel Island, 120 miles off the Siberian coast until about 3,700 years ago.

The Wrangel Island dwarf mammoths stood only about 2 meters high and weighed 2 tons. The British mammoth expert, A. Lister, said he was not really surprised at this discovery, because many islands supported dwarf versions of mainland animals during the Ice Ages.

(Crenson, Matt; "A Mammoth Discovery," Dallas Morning News, p. 22A, March 25, 1993. Cr. L. Anderson. Also: Bower, B.; "'Dwarf' Mammoths Outlived Last Ice Age," Science News, 143:197, 1993.)

Comment 1. If the full-size Siberian mammoths really met their demise because of a catastrophic climate change, how did the dwarf mammoths occupying the same region escape?

Comment 2. Lister's remark about other dwarf island inhabitants brings to mind the dwarf elephants of Santa Rosa, off the Californian coast, which apparently were the main course in early human feasts. But, curiously, island isolation also leads to gigantism, as seen in the moas of New Zealand. This contradiction needs explaining.

Reference. A large body of literature exists on the possible late survival of the mammoth and mastadon. See BMD10 in our catalog: Biological Anomalies: Mam mals II, which is described here.

From Science Frontiers #87, MAY-JUN 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987