How Did Mammoths Become Frozen?
I have not found a single reference on how mammoths became frozen except an article that appeared in Reader's Digest in the early '60s. The usual explanation, such as appeared on the Discovery special, is that the huge animals fell in a hole, were covered by mud, then became frozen. As the Digest article points out, this is impossible!
First, unless meat is frozen instanly, it will rot. Anyone who has frozen meat knows this to be true. What is even more amazing is that at the time of freezing it was quite temperate, perhaps 50 or 60 degrees above zero, as examination of the contents of mammoth stomachs has shown them to contain flowers and other spingtime plants.
So how do you instantly freeze a gigantic mammoth in spring time so that it does not rot for 20,000 years? The article suggested a severe downdraft of supercooled air, like a reverse tornado, might have been possible during the ice age.
Has anyone done any contemporary research regarding these theories?
Christian de Marliave Replies:
(Christian de Marliave works with Bernard Buigues at Polar Circle Expeditions and was a team member on the mammoth expedition. One of a handful of polar specialists, he has organized many international expeditions and written several books on polar history.)
The most probable theory is the following: Mammoth have slide with mud inside a hole in late fall. He was cover with earth that froze during the following weeks. The amount of earth covering the carcass was thick enough to become permafrost (a layer of 50 cm melt every year). I do not believe in that tornado theory.