Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review, (February 2010, No. 23)

A Mammoth Hoax

Chad Arment

Occasionally, in discussions of the possibility of living mammoths, there will be mention of a sighting in Siberia that was published in 1873. I don't think that I have seen a complete reprint of the story in the cryptozoological literature, as the summary that was published in The Zoologist in October 1873 is what is usually noted. While it has been recognized as a literary hoax for some time (for example, noted by Karl Shuker as such in In Search of Prehistoric Survivors), it still manages to crop up at times by those who haven't read the actual story.

The story itself was written for the New York World, recognized even then as a source for a number of tall tales and newspaper yarns. As Cincinnati's Daily Gazette stated (Aug. 23, 1873): "The New York World is fond of remarkable sensations, especially those of an apparently scientific nature. Not long ago, it told, on the pretended authority of a Russian fugitive from Siberia, of the discovery of mammoths and other extinct animals among the Siberian mountains. It once described the transference of one man's brains to another's skull so that the reconstituted individual walked about in his own flesh but with a new mentality. Its wonderful interviews with Bismarck and Eugenie which were too good or too bad to be true, will be remembered by our readers. Its latest attempt is a report of the discovery of the famous library said to have been carried by Tamerlane to Samarcand. The account goes on to describe some of the literary treasures of antiquity included in the collection. An air of truthfulness is given to the story from the fact the Russians have laid open the surrounding Asiatic districts, hitherto almost sealed to Europeans. It happens, however that Arminius Vambery, the enterprising traveler who visited Samarcand in the disguise of a dervish a few years ago, made particular inquiries respecting the tradionary library, but could hear nothing of it. If it had been in existence, the Russian commanders would, months since, have made the fact known to the world. The World's fiction is so pleasant that we could wish it were fact."

While the World's original article is unavailable to me, it was reprinted in full in Wallace's Monthly some years later (July 1878, vol. 4, no. 6), so I can reprint it here in its original format (or very close to it).

Remarkable Discovery of Living Prehistoric Animals.

 This is an age of discoveries. The world has heard of the exploits of the indomitable, self-denying Livingston in Africa, and still later of the remarkable discoveries of the heroic Stanley. Livingston devoted his life to the cause of humanity and science, and after long years of suffering, died in harness, surrounded by his faithful negroes, a martyr to the great object for which he had lived. Stanley, with a zeal and purpose worthy of the highest admiration, has taken up the work where the great explorer left off, and revealed wonders of which we had never dreamed. So, too, in our own country, has the man of science and research been busy penetrating to comparatively unknown regions, and opening up the resources of this great republic. Such names as Kane, Hall, Hayes, Powell, Fremont and Stanley, will live in American history as monuments of tireless activity and scientific ambition.

It often happens that great discoveries are rather the result of accident, than from any set purpose to discover. Such was the case with a Russian convict in Siberia. His strange, eventful history excited great interest here and elsewhere, reading like a romance fall of mystic adventure. As the narrative is well worth reproduction, we give it here below. That it is most remarkable, strange, and worthy of the closest investigation, no one will deny:—

Yesterday at the Imperial Library in this city, through the kindness of Herr Steffens, a German philologist, who is here assisting in the preparation of the great Sanskrit dictionary being published at the expense of the Russian government, I made the acquaintance of Cheriton Batchmatchnik, a convict who has lately been pardoned by the imperial government on account of the strange hardships he has undergone, and the remarkable discoveries he has made. Batchmatchnik is a true Russian, one of the "black people,” as they are termed, the son of a serf who bought his liberty—a short, wiry, broad-shouldered fellow, about forty years of age, with a skin tanned like leather, very keen black eyes, and thick, matted hair and beard, both so grizzled as to make him seem some years older than he really is. He bears in his looks many proofs of the terrible hardships he has gone through, but is a stout-hearted fellow, ready-witted, and evidently capable of conquering still in many rough tussles with life. I had the pleasure to hear the account of his adventures from his own lips, and give you here a brief synopsis of them.

For ten years previous to 1865, Cheriton had been valet to Count Resanoff, and in his company had travelled extensively in Europe and the East, acquiring a sort of ready-made education and a smattering of several languages, besides the French and German, which he speaks well. In 1865, Resanoff married an opera singer, who had long been his mistress, and the first act of the new countess was to have Cheriton discharged. "You see, I knew too much," said the ex-valet with a grin: "I was like a skeleton at her feasts. I used to see other people around her doors besides my master, the count, and it was worth many copeks to me not to tell tales.” After leaving his master, who was loth to part, with him, and who gave him one hundred roubles and a suit of clothes, Cheriton settled at Kolken, a little town on the Gulf of Riga, and became a fisherman. He had saved money enough to buy nets and a stout covered boat, and soon became known as quite a capitalist in Kolken. He was indeed making money, but not by fishing, which was only resorted to as a screen for some extensive and daring operations which he conducted as a smuggler. He would start at nightfall with his boats, under pretence of setting his nets, and would intercept certain Danish and German brigs trading with Riga, and with which he had understood arrangements. The goods he thus brought oft were loaded at Kolken before day; and afterward, as occasion served, carried to Riga in country wagons. In this way Cheriton had quite an extensive business, and the Russian revenues suffered accordingly.

Returning, however, in the grey of the morning, one day in the summer of 1866, with a valuable cargo of piece silks and gimps, Cheriton found his house in possession of custom officers, who speedily had him and his crew in custody also, in spite of a gallant resistance, in which one police officer lost a leg and Cheriton got his head cut open. "The police got ten thousand roubles by that haul, Monsieur," said Cheriton, "and the government not a kopek." Taken to Riga, Cheriton was thrown into prison, and kept until winter, when he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude in Siberia. Although it was midwinter, Cheriton was sent with a largo batch of other convicts directly across country to Ekaterinburg, and thence to Tomsk on the Obe river, in the heart of the country of the Ostiaks. There were about two hundred and fifty men in the "transport" of "unfortunates” with which Cheriton arrived at Tomsk from Tobolsk. The men were immediately sorted out to different occupations, and it being late in the spring when they reached Tomsk, Cheriton found work as a wagoner for a peasant in the country, who had excellent crops to save. Cheriton, however, weak from his long and fatiguing journey, could not do all the work required of him, and the peasant tried to supplement his energies by liberal applications of the stick. "Somehow or other," in Cheriton's phrase, the man's horses ran down a steep bank into a river after that, and were drowned, and Cheriton, not daring to go home again, attempted to escape by stealing a boat and going down the Obe river, sailing by night, and concealing himself in the day.

He was soon apprehended, however, taken to Tobolsk, and there sentenced to hard labor for life in the mines of Nertschinsk. Batchmatchnik shudders with horror at the mere retrospect of his life in these mines, where he labored underground in a chain-gang, in company with murderers and other criminals, who were severely treated and watched incessantly, and who were always endeavoring to escape—when not drunk on smuggled vodki, which they were able to purchase in large quantities with the silver, copper, and lead which they steal in spite of the most rigid surveillance. Cheriton was placed in a copper mine, and became foreman of one of the gangs, with the prospect of further alleviation of his hardships. Somehow he got the enmity of his fellow-convicts, and they plotted to destroy him. In this they succeeded only too well.

Making it appear to the authorities that he was abusing his privileges by systematically robbing the mines of a portion of treasure, Cheriton was degraded from his position, severely knouted, and sent to work in the lowest gallery of the silver mine of the Iakoffleff, one of the deepest shafts of the Nertschinsk.

From this moment, Cheriton resolved to escape at all hazards, and began to make preparations accordingly. He was not allowed to come out of the shaft but once a week, when he had two days of liberty, within certain limits and under the eyes of guards, whose orders were to shoot him down if he made so much as a suspicious movement. Cheriton, however, like a hunted beast, had gotten to be very cunning. He had detected many of the ruses of the criminals around him for deceiving the authorities, and he put these in practice on his own behalf. Little by little he stole from the mines and secreted a quantity of silver that finally amounted to nearly twenty solotniks (the solotnik is five-twelfths of a pound). He also concealed a double-barreled pistol and ammunition. A woman, the servant of one of the officers of the mines and herself a convict, took pity on him, and through her he was able to procure provisions, a stout pair of shoes, a woollen jacket, socks and fur cap. In May, 1870, as soon as the snow melted, Cheriton determined to put his plans in execution. When his gang was to return to the shaft, after its weekly holiday, Cheriton slipped away, confident that he would thus have two hours in which to escape before his absence would be noticed. The woman assisted him to pass the guard, and in twenty minutes he was a free man after four years of horrible convict life. "I was determined,'' said he, "never to be taken back alive to those terrible mines, and that resolution made me exert myself to get away, for I didn’t want to die any more than I wanted to be captured."

Knowing that he would be pursued, Cheriton struck for the mountains, attained the edge of the woods as he heard the alarm gun fired, and in two days was in the wildest fastnesses of the desolate hills. He lay concealed here for a week, and then, harassed by wolves which had found him out, he came out, turned southward, and endeavored to reach the Amoor river, intending to escape into Mantchooria and thence to China. But the fates were against him; there was some hostile movement among the tribes that required to be suppressed, and as soon as he came into the open country, he found every place scoured by Cossacks, who repeatedly pursued him. He returned to the mountains, and half despairing, turned north, deliberately essaying what seemed to be a pass in the great Altai range. And now, for thirty days, weary, footsore, starving, the unhappy convict climbed the forbidding wildernesses of these desolate mountains, seeking in vain for an outlet. His provisions were exhausted, but he at one time ate the bark of trees, at another time captured a nest of lemmings, and again, by careful stalking, got near enough to shoot a wild sheep, the flesh of which afforded him a supply of food, and the skin, well prepared, made him a warm coat, that probably saved his life on several occasions. He frequently came upon the haunts of the Siberian bear, and disturbed the sea-eagle on her nest. Finally, after encountering a thousand perils, he found a pass in the Altai range, through which one of the branches of the Lena river makes its way to the north. By this pass, Cheriton descended to the steppes, and followed the Auga river in its course toward the great tundra of Siberia.

But misfortunes still beset him. A band of wandering Tungouses surprised him while asleep, captured him, and, in spite of his entreaties, avowed their intention to take him to Yakoutsk and surrender him. These Tungouses were hunters, had horses, and were on their way to make their annual visit to Yakoutsk in search of supplies for their winter hunt of the ermine and sable. They treated Cheriton kindly, and he lived well with them, having plenty to eat and an abundance of brick-tea. They were addicted to Shamanism, and Cheriton won their highest respect by his arts as a conjuror, in which he far surpassed the official sorcerer of the tribe. He thus earned the bitter jealousy of that priest, who saw his occupation in danger, and who made several attempts to poison him. No sooner did the astute Cheriton discover this, than he turned it to account in forwarding his plans to escape. He made a secret offensive and defensive alliance with the sorcerer, exchanged with him a portion of his silver for a horse, a lance, a bow and arrows, and provisions. The Shaman then called a halt, announced a ceremonial occasion upon which it was necessary to propitiate the Tadebtsios, or spirits of the dead. The tadibe produced his magic drum, the tribe was arranged around him in a circle, and after performing some tricks, went into a fit of ecstasy, coming out of which, he declared that every body must get drunk in order to soothe the angry spirits. A beer prepared from some species of fungus, sweetened and mixed with tea, was so liberally dispensed, and possessed such high narcotic properties, that in a short time all but the conjuror and Cheriton were reduced to a state of insensibility. The tadibe now advised Cheriton that it was time to depart, and escorted him to some distance from the camp, showing him a road which he said was the highway to Irkoutsk, but which Cheriton believes would have led him directly back to the mines of Nertschinsk. At any rate as soon as the Shaman was out of sight, Cheriton took another direction, turned eastward, and again essayed the wilderness. His plan was now no less than to cross two ranges of mountains and descend to the Sea of Okotsk, which he knew was frequented by whale fishers. If he failed to meet any of these, he could still play the role of shipwrecked seaman, and find refuge in Okotsk, Nicolaieff, or Ayan. He was warmly clad, well armed, and felt equal to the dangers and privations he expected to encounter. At any rate, nothing could be worse than the mines.

For many days Cheriton continued his journey, meeting with numerous adventures, and being often pursued by the wretched Koriaks, into whose country he had come. He had killed and eaten his horse, and the long Siberian winter, with its deep snows and dreadful prospects of starvation, was upon him, when he began to enter the deep gorges of the Aldan mountains toward the head-waters of the Aldan river. Experience had taught him that water-sheds were apt to distribute streams in several directions, and if he could find the two fountains of that great branch of the Lena, he would be able to find, not far from them, the origin of streams emptying into the Okotsk Sea. He ascended for several days without finding a pass, or seeming to come any nearer the summit of the implacable ridge that stood ever before him like a barred iron gate. At this elevation, and while still exposed to the bleak, wintry winds that blew from the Arctic Seas across the tundras, he was caught in a violent snowstorm that raged for several days. He had no fire, his supply of food was nearly exhausted, and the cold was severe.

But what came so near being his destruction proved in the end his salvation. The snow was several feet deep, and the neighborhood of his place of refuge was visited by great numbers of sables, Arctic hares, lemmings, and other animals, apparently in search of food. He shot numbers of these with his arrows; enough to supply his larder and furnish him with warm clothing, which he made of the skins roughly stitched with the tendons. He was several days thus occupied, and in preparing some snowshoes and a sledge for provisions. During this time, he observed large numbers of animals passing along over the snow, which had now acquired a crust. These animals included not only the small rodents, but also bears and wild sheep. He noticed also that they all seemed to be migrating, or, at any rate, travelling in a particular direction, eastward, but tending more to the south. He suspected at once that some way through or over the mountains was known to them, and determined to be guided by them. If no other advantage came of it, by keeping the course they were following, he would be able to purvey his food from amongst them.

Travelling through the snow with his snowshoes, even when encumbered with his sledge and fifty pounds of meat, Cheriton found to be much easier work than clambering over the rocks and stones. The route he now pursued seemed to be much less arduous than his former one. It led persistently up the mountains, but made detours, apparently to avoid the more precipitous places. On the fourth day of the ascent, Cheriton found the path (for so it had become by the tread of animals) drew near the summit of the range, which it crossed by a pass only a few feet wide, and five or six hundred feet below the highest peaks of the mountain, which rose on either side. One of these Cheriton now climbed, and standing upon the summit, was rewarded with such a view as the mountaineer must get from the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains. North and south, like a great wall, he saw the mighty range of the Altais, until, in the dim distance, it tended westward and vanished like clouds low-lying against the horizon. Parallel to it, another great range, almost equally high, faced him and followed the same direction at an apparent distance of a hundred miles, and these two ranges were joined at right angles by lofty cross ranges, one to the north, the other to the south, of his position; and land-locked by these great mountains, right at his feet he beheld a parallelogram of valley, fifty miles wide, one hundred and fifty long, and with a blue, quiet lake in the centre. To descend into this valley would be to get into a cul-de-sac; but Cheriton looked at the bleak, snowy region behind him, and then down into the pleasant valley before him—green, placid and cheerful—and hesitated no longer. He could see no sign of habitation anywhere, but animals were browsing on the meadows by the lake—what sort, he could not detect at that distance. He descended to the pass, put a new string to his bow, loaded his pistol afresh, tightened his belt, and began to go down the mountain toward the valley.

As he descended, the snow began to grow less deep, and he camped that night on a bed of fragrant mosses. The next day, having his sled, he continued to descend. It was quite evident that the valley was of great depth, and far below the level of the steppes on the other side of the range. Indeed, if his observations are at all to be relied upon, the lowest part of this singular, land-locked valley must be not above the level of the sea, if, as he supposes, it be not several hundred feet below it, like the valley of the Dead Sea. Cheriton soon came in his downward course to a vast forest of larches, firs, pines, spruces, and ash, through which progress was difficult. Several species of deer ranged this forest in great numbers, feeding upon a crisp green herbage with an aromatic odor. Foxes and lynxes were also met, with bears, and a sort of plantigrade resembling the American wolverine or glutton. There were no wolves, but the Alpine foxes, black as jet, hunted the deer in packs, with a cry resembling that of the jackal. These animals were so tame and fearless, yet so little inclined to molest him, that he came to the conclusion that they were unacquainted with man, and that the valley was uninhabited.

The next day's journey brought Cheriton through the forest to a wood of deciduous trees, much larger than any he supposed Siberia capable of producing. This forest was open, and was turfed with succulent herbs and grasses, except where the rocks, which were of a limestone formation, cropped out here and there in enormous masses. Among these rocks were many caves, from which beautiful rivulets trickled out and ran down toward the valley. At nightfall Cheriton selected one of these caves for a lodging-place, and built a fire at the entrance, which was no sooner done than a bear ran howling out and escaped among the rocks. This made our adventurer determine to keep up his fire, and also to explore the cavern before sleeping. He made himself torches and went into the place, finding nothing, save some great bats and the bones and teeth of some huge animal. The next day he proceeded onward, passing below the region of the forest and coming out upon a broad terrace covered with the greenest grass. This terrace, which sloped gradually toward the centre of the valley, was about eight miles in width, and seemed to bind the foot of the hills all around as far as he could see. He found it warm enough here to make his coat of sables very uncomfortable. The terrace, which struck Cheriton as offering the finest natural pasture he had ever seen, was unbroken on its surface. The plain was full of animals feeding like domestic herds at pasture. At the lower margin of this terrace, Cheriton came to a steep slope that descended fully fifteen hundred feet at a sharp angle, but not so steep as to be bare of the prevalent grasses. At the foot of this slope was the valley proper and the lake in the middle of it. He immediately went down, and just at nightfall, forcing his way through a fringe of willows, he stood on the pebbly brink of this lake of dark-blue, transparent water, scarcely ruffled by the faint breath of an evening breeze. Thoroughly tired out, Cheriton built afire, roasted and ate a hare, made a couch of branches, drew his sable coat over him, and lay down, but not to sleep.

Cheriton says he will never forget that first night of horrors by the haunted lake. He was beset with monsters. Dark, shadowy forms came over the water, splashing toward him, and seemed to seek what his fire might mean. The tramping of great beasts that crushed the willow stalks like pipe-stems on their way to the water's edge, and then came and stood over him, breathing heavily and slow as they seemed to gaze at the fire with stupid wonder, made him afraid each moment of being overrun. Wild eyes reflecting the firelight shone around him, and wilder cries and howls gave new horror to his position. He sprang to his feet almost paralyzed with fright, and fired his pistol at the nearest intruder. The echo of the shot rang loud around him, and it seemed the signal for the cries of a thousand new monsters to burst forth. There were mad, plunging rushes of frightened beasts around him that made the ground tremble; a peculiar long, shrill, quivering shriek sounded over the lake, and was answered by a harsh, guttural bellow near at hand. Soon there were more of these deep, full-toned, impressive bellowings, and Cheriton, flinging a burning brand in the direction of the sound, saw the dark shadow of some huge, unknown, towering monster move slowly away. Immediately he kindled a broad circle of fire about his resting-place, and in this charmed ring sat watching all night long, when, near morning, he fell asleep. When Cheriton awoke it was broad day, and there were no traces of the animals that had disturbed him overnight, except the paths they had worn going down to the water. In these paths he saw the deep-planted spoor of some animal larger than any he had ever beheld. His first care was to seek some place to pass the next night, where he would be free from alarms. He recrossed the meadow, and followed the edge of the slope around in a direction in which he saw some rocks. Among these he found the wide and lofty entrance to a cave. He entered with some precaution, for the rocky pavement was worn as if by use, and within he heard a slow, measured movement as of an animal gently ruminating, and heavily breathing with great, calm inspirations and expirations like the sigh of a smith's bellows. One turn, then another, he heard a heavy, startling snort, and there, in the half-light of the cave, standing full before him, alive, chewing the cud, and waving its proboscis to and fro with a slow, gentle, majestic motion, he saw a mammoth!

"I did not know then," said Cheriton, "what I have since been told, that Siberia was an old habitat of these animals, and that some of the best scientific judges are uncertain whether to look upon the remains found on the shores of the Arctic Ocean as fossil animals, or as remnants of wandering herds caught and perishing in storms, individuals of which may still exist under favorable circumstances. Without intending it, I have solved that doubt." Cheriton describes the mammoth as a very imposing-looking animal, covered with reddish-brown wool and long black hair. During his stay in the valley, he was close to five of them, all of which were nearly of a size, being about twelve feet high, eighteen feet long, with tusks projecting about four feet, and being eight to ten feet counting the curve. The skin, which was bare on the upper surface of the ears, on the knees and rump was of a mouse color and seemed very thick. The animal was nocturnal in its habits, frequenting caves or forests by day, and feeding at night or early morning. Cheriton thinks there might be fifteen or twenty of these monsters in the valley, but that all there are aged, and that very few are born nowadays. At any rate, he saw none that had the least appearance of being young. They were peaceable animals, torpid and sluggish as old oxen. Cheriton found a small cave which he could climb up to by the face of a perpendicular rock, and in which he was comparatively free from the incursions of wild animals. In a recess of this cave he built his fire, which he never suffered to go out again during the whole course of his stay in the valley, which continued the whole winter and until about April, as near as he could guess the time. In all his stay there, so sheltered was the valley and so permanent the warmth, that the lake was never frozen over; nor was there over an inch of snow, and no frosts sufficiently hard to destroy the succulence of the grasses. These were fed by gentle rains, constant dews and frequent mists. The valley swarmed with animal life, while, as the winter progressed, the waters of the lake were covered with wild fowl. Birds of prey fed upon them in numbers, while the foxes, lynxes, and gluttons preyed upon the herds of deer and smaller tribes.

Batchmatchnik explored the valley thoroughly during his stay. In the course of his explorations, he encountered many animals indigenous to the valley, which he thinks are not known to exist anywhere except in the shape of fossil remains. Among these was a species of horse, a beautiful creature that went in droves, and ran with lightning-like speed. These horses were small, pure white, with long black mane and tail; they were covered with fleece rather than hair, and in running looked as much like lambs as horses. The lake was full of fish of many species, but was inhabited by a monster, of which Cheriton was in constant dread; a sort of [saurophidian], which he describes as being thirty feet long, and armed with scales and horrible fangs. This monster—he never saw but the one—was master of the lake, and lived by devouring the animals which came by night to drink. Cheriton gives a graphic and exciting description of a contest which he witnessed one morning, between this crocodile-serpent and one of the mastodons. The battle, which lasted more than an hour, ended in the discomfiture of the mammoth, which could barely limp away after having been crushed in the serpent's folds. Doubtless, in respect of these and similar discoveries, Cheriton's book, when it appears, will be one of the most interesting narratives of adventure ever published.

I have left myself no space in which to describe the remaining adventures of Cheriton Batchmatchnik. Suffice it to say that, having made himself an alpenstock out of a staff and his pistol barrels, and provided a long rope of reindeer sinews, he succeeded, after almost superhuman exertions, in mounting the icy cliffs to the eastward of the valley and descending to the coast. In the course of his descent, he fell down a precipice, fractured his left leg and received other injuries. He became insensible, and, when he recovered consciousness, found himself in a wretched koriak yourt, cared for, however, as well as he would have been in a palace. When his wounds finally healed, these poor people took him to Avan, whence he procured transportation to Nicolaieff, there telling his adventures und surrendering himself to the authorities. Luckily for him, there was a particular friend of Count Resanoff’s in garrison at Nicolaieff, who remembered him and interested himself in his behalf. Finally, a conditional pardon was obtained through Colonel Kolymsky's direct appeal to the Czarowitch. Cheriton was sent home, pardoned absolutely, and set to work to write a history of his adventures between Nertschinsk and Nicolaieff.


Wallace's Monthly does append the following to this account:

"At the annual meeting of the 'American Association for the Advancement of Science,' held at Portland, Me., August 20th, 1873, Prof. Feuchtwanger, an eminent scientist, made the following remarks, regarding the alleged discoveries of Batchmatchnik:—

"'The discoveries of live mammoths and other animals in Siberia, in the deep gorges of the mountains near the Lena river, which were lately published as having been made by a Russian convict, who saw five living animals, twelve feet in height, and eighteen feet in length, with projecting tusks four feet long, excite some discussion in Europe. I think it worthy of inquiry, whether the mammoth of the post-tertiary period, discovered during this century in Siberia, near the same river, can have any relation to the convict's discovery. Thousands of these animals have been found buried in the ice, with well-preserved skins, and thousands of tusks are brought to England to this day, for the use of the turner. These are of nearly the same dimensions as those seen by the Russian. The convict has received a pardon on the recommendation of scientific men, who have investigated his statements and believe them to be true.'"

It is true that Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger, a mineralogist, chemist, and physician, was taken in by this story. (Feuchtwanger is probably better known for producing small coinage in New York several decades before private coinage was banned by the Federal government.) His opinion appears to have been greatly influenced by the fact that numerous mammoths had been discovered frozen in the tundra. (Perhaps that was what inspired the World's story writer.) It does go to show that caution needs to be taken at every step in examining the validity of a story, particularly when the full details aren't yet known.

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