Is there really a Cosmic Tusk?

Well, maybe. Maybe not. But I do own one of the largest intact Woolly Mammoth tusks found in recent years, and it has starred in a National Geographic episode as a potential relict of the bad times. There are indeed some unusual features to my tusk; odd marks, iron blotches, magnetic areas and such. It is currently under study by Jon Hagstrum when he is not working at USGS. In fact, Jon fashioned a fine circular sample saw we used to take plugs from the beast, with Jon directing the action by cell from Menlo Park.

In future posts I plan to discuss my tusk in more detail, and I hope Jon will honor us with a guest blog on the subject. We will also need to investigate the menagerie of other megafaunal pieces and parts identified by the YD team as possible evidence something happened at some point. Keep in mind, however, the eight tusks identified here, including mine pictured in Fig #2, are not purported by the YD team to be from the 12.9K event, as the team had first suspected (and is often misreported). These bones all date to another time, 32K to 36K years ago, as revealed in the National Geographic episode. ┬áTherefore — though the tusks and skulls are curious — and may be evidence of catastrophe in an earlier time — they were a bit of a red herring with regard to the 12.9K event. More later.

But, for now, here are a few pics of my 110 inch long, 61 kilogram ancient ivory baby:

  • user

    complete bullshit
    stay scientific

  • George Howard


  • Small Furry Animal

    Is the 32-36K taking into account the possible / alleged Carbon-14 anomalies due to radiation?

  • Helio Spheric

    I wonder whether you can (a) date the age of the mammoth from carbon dating samples at the tip and the base of the tusk. (b) estimate the year of death, and compare to other mammoths, to see whether they died at different times, or during the same event?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi George –

    It looks like your friend at USGS has filled the vacancy left by Shoemaker.
    He’s also someone working outside of Morrison’s control/influence.

    If you need help, contact Dorothy Norton, she knows everyone in the mammoth field.

  • Steve Garcia

    I ran across this Nature paper from 1987:

    Late-glacial mammoth skeletons from Condover, Shropshire, England

    G. R. COOPE & A. M. LISTER

    We report the discovery of abundant skeletal remains of mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius (Blumenbach) from late-glacial sediments filling a kettle-hole near Shrewsbury, Shropshire in England. Radiocarbon dated to ╦ť12,800 yr BP,>/b> they are by far the latest dated remains of mammoth from Britain, extending its known occurrence there by around 5,000 yr. They provide clear evidence that the full-glacial episode of the last cold stage did not bring about the final extinction of the mammoth in western Europe, but that the species returned in the late glacial before its ultimate demise. The finds represent the most complete mammoths found in Britain, and include the largely complete skeleton of an adult together with partial skeletons of at least three juveniles.

    The date stood out, though one has to take into account that their date would have been several IntCal calibrations ago, how where THAT calibrated 12,800 bp date compares to today’s 12,800 date is uncertain.

    But it certainly can be in the conversation regarding the YDB.

  • Steve Garcia

    Coincidentally, I ran into this article today from the New Yorker issue of December 16th:

    “The Lost World” –

    It is about Georges Cuvier and his discovery and even NAMING mammoths and mastodons. I have not yet finished it yet, but it’s been really interesting so far.

  • Steve Garcia

    That article is Part ONE.

    Part Two of The Lost World is here:

    In Part One, this is the author’s take on Cuvier’s thinking:

    …In his lecture on elephants, he proposed that the mastodon, the mammoth, and the Megatherium had all been wiped out “by some kind of catastrophe.” Cuvier hesitated to speculate about the precise nature of the calamity – “It is not for us to involve ourselves in the vast field of conjectures that these questions open up” – but at that point he seems to have believed that one disaster would have sufficed.

    It was left to later researchers to do that “conjecturing,” and along came others nearly two centuries later.

    Later, as his list of extinct species grew, his position changed. There had, he decided, been multiple cataclysms. “Life on earth has often been disturbed by terrible events,” he wrote. “Living organisms without number have been the victims of these catastrophes.”

    In this we are philosophical descendants of Cuvier. It is VERY apropos that he started out focused on the same extinct animals – mammoths – as did Richard Firestone and his present-day cohorts.

    Like his view of transformisme, Cuvier’s belief in cataclysm fit with – indeed, could be said to follow from – his convictions about anatomy. Since animals were functional units, ideally suited to their circumstances, there was no reason, in the ordinary course of events, that they should die out. Not even the most devastating ecvents known to occur in the contempory world – volcanic eruptions, say, or forest fires – were sufficient to explain extinction; confronted with such changes, organisms simply moved on and survived.

    Gloriously, this is exactly the reason that climate change could not have sent the mammoths to oblivion until Cuvier came along and identified them. At least climate change on the order of what the “Climate Change done it” scientists argue. After all, look at the degree of climate change the mammoths and other animals DID survive and even proliferated during and after. “Confronted with such changes, organisms simply moved on and survived.” Many such climate changes had no effect whatsoever. What was the difference when they were finally erased from existence? It was no mere climate changing, even severely. Even severe ones had been taken more or less in stride; the organisms merely moved on and survived.

    And, as Cuvier could have only “conjectured” if he were not so opposed to such conjectures, these extinctions of multiple organisms came in bunches. What occurred to one species happened to many. Each additional species gone represented more argument against climate change being the cause. It is not an ironclad argument against climate change, but it is a high bar to surmount.

    The changes that had caused extinctions must therefore have been of a much greater magnitude – so great that animals had been unable to cope with them. That such extreme events had never been observed by him or any other naturalist was another indication of nature’s mutability: in the past, it had operated differently – more intensely and savagely – than it did at present.

    “The thread of operations is broken,” Cuvier wrote. “Nature has changed course, and none of the agents she employed today would have been sufficient to produce her former works.” Cuvier spent several years studying the rock formations around Paris – together with mineralogist friends, he produced the first stratigraphic map of the Paris Basin – and here, too, he saw signs of cataclysmic change.”

    The term “Basin” in caps here brings to mind the Michigan Basin. For those who are not aware of it, the geological map of Michigan Basin looks like a bull’s-eye.


    And then see how it ties in with even farther flung geological features here: (simplified diagram)

    Now with this mention of the Paris Basin it seems I might have to go take a look.

    The rocks showed that, at various points, the region had been submerged. The shifts from one environment to another – from marine to terrestrial, or, at some points, from marine to freshwater – had, Cuvier decided, “not been slow at all”; rather they had been brought about by those sudden “revolutions” on the surface of the earth. The latest of these revolutions must have occurred relatively recently, for traces of it were still everywhere apparent. This event, Cuvier believed, lay just beyond the edge of recorded history; he observed that many ancient myths and texts, including the Old Testament, allude to some sort of crisis – usually a deluge – that preceded the present order.

    The man was precocious! Or perhaps it is just that he was free of later requirements to fit everything into a gradualist theme.

    “…just beyond the edge of recorded history” . . . WOW. And what do we still see today? Agriculture and writing and the wheel and domestication of animals – all of these were “invented” at the same point in time. And that time appears to researchers to be at the end of the Younger Dryas, the 1300 year ice age after the YDB. The beginning of recorded history. Cuvier was closer than he might have had reason to believe. If he could see what the YDB research is bringing to the fore, he might be thrusting his fist in the air, even from his grave.

    It is amazing to read how close Cuvier came to what we are all witnessing today. As Cuvier came to his conclusions based almost solely on anatomy, now is being added masses of forensic evidence within the rocks, and they all scream the same message: A great cataclysm and dead mammoths everywhere.

    …Except on Wrangle Island and its pygmy mammoths. Where, Cuvier would argue, the “agents she [Nature] employed… would have been” insufficient “to produce her former works.” In other words, on Wrangle Island the cataclysm was not intense enough to kill them all off. It would be a good research topic to find out if the pygmy mammoths were always pygmies, or if the pygmies only dated back to 12,800 years ago…

    Enough for now. The article is a good read, and recommended reading.

  • Steve; Greetings from the Great White North. No signs of global warming here. It’s been 30-35 yrs since it’s been this cold and snowy. I’m wondering if there’s been another impact in Russia that they haven’t mentioned and we are now in another YD. I was beginning to like this global warming thing. We need throw more junk in the air so’s to warm things up again. CO2 is not cool and I’m all for it.

  • You guys are idiots. You diminish this blog.

    Just FYI.

  • E.P.Grondine

    Hi Steve –

    Wrangel Island’s pygmy mammoths were about the size of large dogs.

    Thus the collapse of their food supply was not enough to kill them off.

    There were other factors involved in producing their local climatic niche.

  • Steve Garcia

    TLE –

    What exactly is the point you are making????

  • Mr. Elifritz; Sorry to have offended you with my attempt to deal with this abysmal cold weather.

  • Ed; I saw a program on TV the other night about the Serpent mounds at various places around the globe. The one in Ohio was touched on and the egg the serpent is supposedly holding was mentioned as possibly being the sun disc as in an eclipse. Could it also be interpreted as being a cosmic impact that took away the sun?