The Polar Regions

Alan Feuerbacher

The Society has often used the discovery of so-called quick-frozen animals as evidence for the Flood, as the following excerpts from some of its latest publications show. The excerpts should clear up some misconceptions about the claim there are "quick-frozen mammoths in Siberia," and about related topics.

The Insight book says:3

What evidence proves that there truly was a global deluge?.... Other possible evidence of a drastic change: Remains of mammoths and rhinoceroses have been found in different parts of the earth.... in Siberian cliffs.... in Siberian and Alaskan ice. In fact, some were found with food undigested in their stomachs or still unchewed in their teeth, indicating that they died suddenly.

The Creation book says:4

.... further evidence that a flood of immense proportions occurred in the not-too-distant past is the great number of fossils and carcasses deposited in icy, mucky dumps. The Saturday Evening Post5 noted: 'Many of these animals were perfectly fresh, whole and undamaged, and still either standing or at least kneeling upright.... Here is a really shocking -- to our previous way of thinking -- picture. Vast herds of enormous, well-fed beasts not specifically designed for extreme cold, placidly feeding in sunny pastures.... Suddenly they were all killed without any visible sign of violence and before they could so much as swallow a last mouthful of food, and then were quick-frozen so rapidly that every cell of their bodies is perfectly preserved.'

This fits in with what happened in the great Flood. The Bible describes it in these words: 'All the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.' The downpour 'overwhelmed the earth,' being accompanied no doubt by freezing winds in the polar regions.... There, the temperature change would be the most rapid and drastic. Various forms of life were thus engulfed and preserved in frozen muck. One such may have been the mammoth that was uncovered by excavators in Siberia and that is seen in the accompanying illustration. Vegetation was still in its mouth and stomach and its flesh was even edible when thawed out.

It should be noted that The Saturday Evening Post did not "note" anything in the above quotation. Rather, it was "noted" by the author, Ivan T. Sanderson, in an article "Riddle of the Frozen Giants." Attributing editorial weight where there is none is unfair to readers.

Next, note that Insight gives no indication how finding undigested food in the mouths of frozen mammoths actually relates to a flood. Rather, it leaves the connection vague -- somehow the sudden death of animals indicates there was a flood. But sudden death occurs in many other ways. Nor does Insight show the significance of finding remains of animals in different parts of the earth or in common strata. Dinosaur remains are found all over the earth and in common strata. Surely Insight is not taking the creationist position that dinosaurs died in the Flood, since the Society appears to have abandoned creationist style Flood Geology by the late 1970s. All the references I've found that speak of animals supposedly found in common strata, show after detailed analysis that the animals were not just thrown together in a pile. Rather, they were buried in sequences of deposits that are often dateable and show evidence of accumulation over long periods of time. On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals says concerning certain fossil bearing Pleistocene deposits:6

In southern Britain.... remains of both hippopotamus and reindeer are found commonly, though never in the same deposit. The hippopotamus is usually interpreted as an indicator of warm conditions, reindeer of cold.

For an extended and excellent discussion of sedimentary strata see God's Time-Records in Ancient Sediments7 and Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared With Young-Earth Creationist Writings.8, 8a

The Creation book makes a clearer connection between freezing conditions and the Flood, but upon close examination the argument proves unconvincing. Specifically, if the earth were immediately covered by floodwaters, to a depth sufficient to cover the mountains, how could any animals become frozen, especially by "freezing winds?" They would have been submerged by the flood water and isolated from freezing winds. This key concept is not explained. An alternative, not mentioned, would be that the water itself was cold enough to freeze the animals. But then how would it have remained unfrozen? Also, the Saturday Evening Post article claims the animals were killed without any sign of violence. Does this sound like the effect of a flood large enough to cover the earth? The Bible says the Flood "came and swept them all away." How can Creation argue that animals were killed without any sign of violence? The Post article is itself inconsistent with the photograph of the mammoth presented along with it. This photo appears also on page 203 of Creation. The mammoth was buried in an upright struggling position, but proved to have a broken hip and other broken bones.

Sanderson's Saturday Evening Post article advanced a theory that was so extreme that no scientific journal would accept it for publication. Actually the article merely perpetuated a long-standing myth. Many of the its statements were exaggerations and falsehoods. They were similar to the speculations of other authors of the time, and have sometimes been further exaggerated by authors who have quoted from the article.8b Many of Sanderson's statements that clearly refer to the famous 1899 discovery of the Berezovka mammoth, which is the one pictured on page 203 of the Creation book, are easily seen to be untrue when compared to the original source material. Of course, Sanderson gives no references to source material.

Let's examine the facts about frozen mammoths and such, by going to sources more reliable than The Saturday Evening Post. First I'll set forth a point Creation states directly, or one which it quotes from the Sanderson article, and then show what reliable sources have to say about it.

"Many of these animals were perfectly fresh, whole and undamaged...."

In 1979 a frozen bison was found in Alaska (see below), which did have parts fresh enough for humans to eat, since one author claimed to have eaten meat from it. However, the excavator of the Berezovka mammoth reported:

.... Upon the left hind leg I also found portions of decayed flesh.... The stench emitted by this extremity was unbearable, so that it was necessary to stop work every minute. A thorough washing failed to remove the horrible smell from our hands, and yet we were obliged to perform part of our task with bare hands.9

".... beasts not specifically designed for extreme cold...."

The woolly mammoths.... were apparently well adapted to the cold climate; their long hair, warm underwool, and thick layer of subcutaneous fat protected them against the cold air....10

The layer of fat beneath the skin is 9 centimeters thick.11

".... Suddenly they were all killed without any visible sign of violence...."

Not true. The Berezovka mammoth had many broken bones:

The left fore leg is bent, so that it is evident that the mammoth tried to crawl out of the pit or crevice into which he probably fell, but apparently he was so badly injured by the fall that he could not free himself.... The right fore leg was so placed as to indicate that the mammoth after falling had supported himself on this leg while attempting to step forward with the left one. We concluded that while in this standing position he became exhausted and died on this very spot, and that he had by no means been washed there by the water from elsewhere.... probably our specimen broke through into a crevice, which would account for his position and for the fracture of such heavy bones as the pelvis and the right forearm. After falling, the mammoth no doubt tried to crawl out, the position of both fore legs being peculiarly like that of an animal making such effort, but the injuries were so serious that his strength gave way and he soon perished.... we exposed several broken ribs.... [we] removed the shoulder bone, which was broken in the middle, evidently injured when the mammoth fell.... we succeeded in exposing.... the protruded male genital.12

Death due to suffocation is indicated by the erection of the mammoth's penis. This is consistent with the mammoth's having been buried in its fall. Also note that the article's author specifically comments that the mammoth could not have been washed by water to its final resting place since it died partially standing up. This is inconsistent with the picture given by the Biblical statement that the Flood "swept them all away."

The animals "were quick-frozen so rapidly that every cell of their bodies is perfectly preserved."

Actually only the superficial parts of the Berezovka mammoth were preserved. Most of the internal organs had already rotted away by the time of its discovery.12a

.... the remains of food in the stomach were exposed. The latter was badly decayed.... The walls of the stomach.... were badly decayed and torn.... the other organs are destroyed.... I collected bits of blood.... To the touch they resemble coarse dry sand.... blood that was taken from above the sternum.... had a bright clay-yellow color, and to the touch felt like chalk.... The stench is not near so intolerable as during the first two days, possibly because we have grown accustomed to it.13

The mammoth's "flesh was even edible when thawed out."

"The flesh from under the shoulder, which is fibrous and marbled with fat, is dark red in color and looks as fresh as well-frozen beef or horse meat. It looked so appetizing that we wondered for some time whether we should not taste it, but no one would venture to take it into his mouth, and horseflesh was given the preference. The dogs cleaned up whatever mammoth meat was thrown to them.14

Dogs are often not fussy about what they eat, even eating feces on occasion.

Histological examination of fat and flesh of the Berezovka mammoth showed 'deep penetrating chemical alteration as a result of the very slow decay,' and even the frozen ground surrounding a mammoth had the same putrid odor, implying decay before freezing.... Furthermore, the stories of a banquet on the flesh of the Berezovka mammoth were 'a hundred percent invention'....15

What really appears to have happened (as I was told by Professor Anatol Heintz) is that one of them made a heroic attempt to take a bite out of the 40,000-year old meat but was unable to keep it down, in spite of a generous use of spices.16

A number of books present further information about frozen animals found in the Arctic. Here are some examples:

.... frozen mammoths still retaining bits of rotting flesh and hide had been reported since 1692 at a number of localities in northern Siberia. (In Alaska, they are encountered from time to time in river alluvium in the course of hydraulic gold mining.) Nevertheless, mammoths preserved in this way are extremely rare.

A cold to cool climate is clearly indicated for the woolly mammoth by the heavy coat of hair and the layer of insulating fat, and the common occurrence of its remains near glacial deposits in association with the fossils of other Arctic animals, such as the hair-covered woolly rhinoceros, musk oxen, reindeer, and a distinctive community of many now-extinct animals. According to Russian botanists, the stomach contents of several frozen examples of the woolly mammoth have yielded some eighty species of well-known northern grasses, sedges, and trees of high-boreal and tundra areas.17

In May, 1846, a mammoth carcass was found in Siberia along the banks of the Indigirka River, although it was soon lost. The river was in violent flood, tearing away its banks and carrying great chunks of ice and frozen soil out to sea. A Russian government survey team had found the mammoth as the river was dislodging it from the river bank. The team dragged the mammoth onto the riverbank and began dismembering it. Time-Life's Ice Ages tells the story recorded by a team member named Benkendorf:18

First we hacked off the tusks and sent them aboard our boat.... Then the natives tried to hew off the head, but this was slow work. As the belly of the brute was cut open, out rolled the intestines, and the stench was so dreadful that I could not avert my nausea and had to turn away. But I had the stomach cut out and dragged aside. It was well filled. The contents were instructive and well preserved. The chief contents were young shoots of fir and pine. A quantity of young fir cones, also in a chewed state, were mixed with the mass.

Shortly after the carcass was cut open, the river undercut the bank and the mammoth was lost.

Note the details of the following find.19 You may not agree with the dating of the events but the physical evidence pointing to the sequence of events as the author describes it is clear enough.

Just 36,000 years ago, a steppe bison was killed by lions.... close to the present-day site of Fairbanks in central Alaska....

The animal belonged to the species Bison priscus, now extinct....

.... Remains of the steppe bison are often found among the cultural litter of Neandertal man and his successor in Europe, Cro-Magnon man, so it may be assumed that Ice Age man hunted this species for food. Certainly it was one of the favorite animals of the Ice Age artists....

.... [Contemporary animals included] mammoths.... moose, and grizzly bear. And, also, the lion -- a pride of which seems to have been responsible for the death of the bison.

Cattle, in dying, tend to topple. A bison, on the other hand, usually sinks down on its belly, and so did this one. The lions went to work. With their sharp teeth they cut up the tough hide along the animal's back and stripped it down its flanks, exposing the meat, of which most was eaten....

Before long, however, the winter cold put a stop to this. The meat froze and became hard as flint. One lion, hopefully trying to prise off some of it, broke its tooth and left a sliver of it in the meat.

Shortly thereafter the bison was buried and frozen into the permafrost. It was discovered in 1979 and kept in a freezer until 1984. The author relates:20

The meat in its abdomen had spoiled before the bison was completely frozen. But in the neck area small pieces of meat were found attached to the skull. The lions had left so little there that it had frozen through while the meat was still fresh. When it thawed it gave off an unmistakable beef aroma, not unpleasantly mixed with a faint smell of the earth in which it was found, with a touch of mushroom. About a dozen of us gathered.... on April 6, 1984, to partake of Bison priscus stew. The taste was delicious, and none of us suffered any ill effects from the meal.

This is the only documented evidence I can find for someone actually eating remains of an ancient frozen animal from the Arctic. A photograph of this bison, which was nick-named "Blue Babe" because of the blue iron phosphate crystals that were found on its skin, appears in Ice Ages21 and On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals.22

A complete description of the discovery and analysis of the "Blue Babe" find is given by the paleontologist who did most of the work, in Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe -- The Story of Blue Babe.23 Concerning the reconstruction of how the bison died, this book says, on page 113:

In summary, we can conclude that Blue Babe died in early to mid winter, before his large reserves of fat were significantly reduced. He was killed and partially eaten by one or, more likely, two or three lions, which fed for several days until the carcass was frozen. Freezing slowed consumption by these lions, who then left the kill, allowing other scavengers to pick at the carcass throughout the winter. Indeed, the bison probably was scavenged by an array of mammalian and avian species, judging from bone fragments, feces, and a characteristic pattern of tendon connective tissue left by avian scavengers.

At the close of winter, the bison carcass was buried by silt carried in rapidly moving snowmelt water.... As the mummy lacked blowfly pupae cases and concentrations of scavenger beetles, burial must have occurred prior to the emergence of these insects in spring. The carcass probably thawed the first summer, but remained bedded on frozen ground and covered by cold silt. He was refrozen in subsequent winters and, as silt accumulated year after year, was gradually interred beneath the lower reaches of annual thaw within permafrost.

The author confirmed that the paleontological team ate some of the meat (page 298):

To climax and celebrate [taxidermist] Eirik Granqvist's work with Blue Babe, we had a bison stew dinner for him and for Bjorn Kurten, who was giving a guest lecture at the University of Alaska that week. A small part of the mummy's neck was diced and simmered in a pot of stock and vegetables. We had Blue Babe for dinner. The meat was well aged but still a little tough, and it gave the stew a strong Pleistocene aroma, but nobody there would have dared miss it.

The above information highlights a number of interesting facts: (1) Lions and bison that are now extinct once lived in North America. Paleontological evidence indicates these animals have been extinct in North America since the end of the last ice age, but they were contemporary with man in Europe and Asia prior to that. (2) The bison was frozen shortly after death, on the surface of the ground. This is obvious since the lions were able to eat part of it, and one broke its tooth in the frozen flesh. (3) The bison was not quick-frozen, as most of it had been eaten, the carcass had been scavenged by a variety of animals, and part of the remaining meat (the abdomen) had had time to decay. The abdomen was underneath the rest of the carcass, protected from the cold by the rest of the warm body, and was therefore the most likely area to stay warm long enough to start to decay. (4) After this the bison was buried, preserved for a long time, and found in the approximate position in which it died. (5) Lions at that time ate meat.

Now, the radiocarbon date of 36,000 years for the bison's death is very close to the limit of accuracy of that dating method, as there is hardly any radiocarbon left to measure, and the Society says that the method is reasonably accurate only for dates after the Flood. This, along with the above five points, and the fact that the bison was contemporary with Neanderthal man as well as other "ice age" animals, indicates the bison died a long time ago, and certainly before the Flood. But these things are contrary to the Society's view that, prior to the Flood, the earth was in a hothouse condition. It is also clear the bison was not killed in a flood of any sort. Therefore frozen animal carcasses in the Arctic are not necessarily evidence of the Flood. Serious doubt is also cast on the idea that animals lived together peacefully before the Flood, since lions ate bison.

Is the find of the partially eaten and decomposed remains of this frozen bison unique? Not at all. Quite a few frozen animals have been found in Siberia and Alaska, all in various stages of decomposition, and all giving evidence that they were trapped and killed by normal processes.

In 1977 a frozen baby mammoth, christened Dima, was found in the USSR in a remarkable state of preservation.24 A bulldozer used in gold mining operations uncovered it from a layer of permafrost. Very little decomposition had set in before it was frozen, so that even the viscera were well preserved. There was no sign of disturbance by scavengers. The carcass was emaciated; no fat of any kind was present. The gastrointestinal tract was nearly empty of food but contained considerable amounts of mineral particles, silt, clay, gravel, plant detritus and the mammoth's own hair. Mineral particles were also found throughout the respiratory system. Histological evidence showed that Dima was under considerable physical exertion before death. Radiocarbon dates and other evidence of age are equivocal, indicating ages ranging from 9000 to 40,000 years.

The interpretations as to how Dima died and was preserved vary, but the most likely scenario, according to Guthrie, is that the animal became trapped in sticky, organically rich, water saturated silt in late autumn. It was probably sickly, as suggested by a heavy parasite load. It struggled to get free for several days, rapidly depleting its fat stores in the cold mud, finally dying when it could no longer keep its head above the mud. During its struggles it breathed in and swallowed much silt, as well as biting its own hair. The complete burying in mud protected the carcass from scavenging. The following spring the carcass was buried deeper by mud and silt flowing from higher on the slope. These conditions remained until the animal was discovered.

In 1968 a mummified horse was found in Siberia, and has been referred to as the Selerikan pony. Guthrie relates (p. 30):

An interesting story is associated with the Selerikan find (Lazarev 1977b). The horse was found deep underground by drift gold miners. Two legs and a tail emerged from the ceiling of the mine, 9 m below the surface in frozen ground. The miners used the horse's hind legs to hold cables and hang lanterns, but when the legs got in the way, they were blown out of the frozen ground with blasting powder and thrown away. Several months later, word of the find got back to Yakutsk and the Siberian Academy of Sciences sent a delegation to Selerikan to investigate. The body of the horse still remained, frozen in the ceiling. Using small blasting charges, the remainder of the horse was blown out. Later that summer, the horse's legs and tail were found in the dump. However, the head could not be found, and examination of the neck skin showed that it had not been preserved with the carcass.

Examination of the carcass again showed extensive decomposition of the internal organs, as well as a full gastrointestinal tract. Apparently the horse became mired in sticky mud and sank up to its neck. Predators soon killed it and dragged away the head. It too, was buried in later mud flows and preserved.

As with Dima and the Selerikan pony, other frozen partial carcasses have been found. Without exception they are in various stages of decomposition and show signs of scavenging. For an up-to-date account of the discovery and interpretation of these finds, including the Berezovka mammoth, see Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe.25

The rest of the documented evidence about "frozen mammoths" and such is summed up in a 1961 Science article that came out shortly after Sanderson's Saturday Evening Post nonsense. Here are the highlights:

In contrast to scientific efforts, a number of popular and quasi-scientific articles have appeared in recent years, in which fragmentary knowledge, folk tales, and science fiction are combined under the guise of verity -- much to the chagrin of scientists and the confusion of the public. The most recent of such articles is that of Sanderson, who.... consistently disregards the actual observations of scientists and explorers (discussed below)....

Long hair, thick wool, and a heavy layer of fat definitely indicate a cold climate. Stomach contents reveal an abundance of grasses, sedges, and other boreal meadow and tundra plants, along with a few twigs, cones, and pollen of high-boreal and tundra trees. In general, this floral assemblage is 'richer...., somewhat warmer and probably also moister' than the present flora of the tundra in which frozen mammoth carcasses are now found. Quackenbush found 'large trees' associated with fossil mammoth in a now-treeless part of Alaska and also came to the conclusion that the climate was somewhat milder when the mammoths lived. The flora of deposits enclosing frozen mammoth carcasses is similar to that of the stomach contents. Furthermore, the healthy and robust condition of the frozen cadavers indicates that the mammoths fared well on such a diet.

The fauna of which the woolly mammoth formed a part was composed mainly of boreal and arctic steppe- and tundra-dwelling animals, although a few problematical warmer-latitude types appear in some European deposits.26

Note that the preceding does not indicate a tropical climate, which must have existed if the Society's scenario of pre-flood conditions is correct. Much evidence also shows that the ice ages were cyclical, so that there were many of them and there were wide ranges of climates existing at various times in various parts of the world during the past few million years.

There is much geological evidence that Canada and Scandinavia were mostly covered by glaciers in the last ice age, Alaska was partly covered, and Siberia was more nearly glacier free. Therefore ice age animal remains ought to be scarce in those localities. Are they?

Even bones of the woolly mammoth are rare in Scandinavia, and they are lacking entirely in most of the Canadian archipelago. Other than two very fragmentary carcasses from Alaska, all of the frozen cadavers have come from northern Siberia. There have been at least 39 discoveries of frozen mammoth remains, with some soft parts preserved, but only four of these were nearly complete.27

Note that discoveries of frozen remains are rare, although skeletons are common enough.

On the other hand, fossil tusks of woolly mammoth are very abundant and have been collected by ivory hunters for centuries.... The obvious conclusion is that the frozen mammoths were members of a populous race located in Siberia (and elsewhere).... And, contrary to some popular accounts, the figures cited above do not support the conclusion that 'absolutely countless numbers' of woolly mammoths were frozen and that 'many of these animals were perfectly fresh, whole, and undamaged....'28

Heavy bones and ivory last a long time in any climate. That they should last a very long time in a very cold climate should be no surprise.

.... Marine fossils have never been discovered in deposits containing frozen mammoths.... Digby said that 'practically all cold-storage mammoths and woolly rhinos are found on the sides of cliffs sloping down to rivers -- a lake in one or two cases.'29

If all these animals died in the Flood, and if, as the Creation book30 says, "seashells are found on high mountains"30a why are there no marine fossils buried along with the frozen mammoths? As for the method of burial,

One point of fact helpful in this problem is the specificity of the frozen animals: in Siberia only mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses have been found frozen and preserved, and the former have been found in much greater numbers than the latter.

So far no other members of the contemporary Eurasian fauna -- stag, horse, reindeer, antelope, musk ox, and so on -- have been found frozen and well preserved. That only the bulky and awkward 'giants' of the fauna are so preserved points to some peculiarity of their physique as a contributing factor. The low-slung rhinoceros would have trouble negotiating marshy ground and snow drifts. Similarly, the mammoth, with his stiff-legged mode of locomotion, would have difficulty on such terrain and, moreover, would probably not be able to cross even small gullies. It would be nearly impossible for him to extricate himself if he had fallen into a snow-filled gully or had been mired into boggy ground.... Also, the mere weight of the mammoth's body would have been a dangerous attribute if the animal happened to graze too near the edge of a river bluff which had been softened by the summer sun.

The stomach contents of the frozen mammoths indicates that death occurred in the warm season, probably in late summer or early fall, when melting and solifluction would have been at a maximum and, accordingly, locomotion would have been difficult.

Since only the heavy-footed giants of the fauna -- the mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses -- have been found in a frozen state, it is very unlikely that a catastrophic congelation occurred in Siberia.31

An excellent description of one type of burial process is found on page 54 of How To Deep-Freeze a Mammoth32 and a good photograph of the type of soil conditions that can do the burying is found on page 58 of Ice Ages.33 Basically, all that happens is that the top layer of permafrost softens in the summer sun, slumps downhill, and buries whatever lies in its path. In winter, everything freezes up again, but if the slump is thick enough the lower parts can remain frozen for a long time.

A comment from Ice Ages sheds more light on the burial process:34

.... the conditions in which Benkendorf found the mammoth in the Indigirka River may have been similar to those in which it died. The surveyor was surprised to find that the carcass was in an upright position, as if the ground on which the animal had stepped, "thousands of years ago, gave way under the weight of the giant, and he sank as he stood, on all four feet." Since that carcass was lost, the time of its death can only be guessed, but hundreds of other Siberian mammoths have been found in identical positions, suggesting that they perished when a rapid thaw melted the permafrost and turned the tundra into a huge bog.

The process of burial and freezing has been observed:35

It is recorded that, in 1947, about 25 of 150 reindeer that went to the beach at Nicholson Peninsula, Northwest Territories, Canada, became mired in a gelifluction [solifluction] flow. Herders managed to pull out 18, but the other seven were swallowed up in a short time. Probably they are still frozen in the permafrost today, potential frozen fossils of the future.

An excellent description of the overall question of frozen mammoths and such is found in chapter 9 of On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals.36 It covers many more details than I can cover here, and is well worth reading. Of interest is the age distribution of the relatively few frozen carcasses, such as the Berezovka mammoth.37

The absolute age in years of the frozen carcasses was for a long time a subject of speculation. During recent years, with the availability of carbon14 dating, the exact age of many of them has become known, with surprising results. Their ages fall into two main groups, one ranging in age from about 45,000 years to 30,000 years and a smaller number of remains about 14-11,000 years old.

Although skeletal remains lacking soft parts are known from the period 30-12,000 years ago, there is very little carcass material of this age. A tendon on a 22,000-years-old bone of a lion from Alaska is one of the rare examples. As we have already seen, this intervening period was a time of massive glacial advance, the ice sheets in the northern hemisphere expanding to their maximum extent about 18,000 years ago. There were minor, more temperate, periods from about 45-25,000 years ago and about 12-11,000 years ago. It was apparently during these ameliorations that most of the known carcasses became frozen. This appears to be a climate-related depositional phenomenon, related to the amount of available water (which reached its minimum at times of glacial advance) and does not reflect an absence of mammoths from the areas in question. Under cold arid conditions, with little moisture to supply mudflows, carcasses would have tended ultimately to rot on the surface with only the bones surviving for potential fossilization. Under moister conditions summer mudflows could rapidly have covered carcasses lying in their paths, which became permanently frozen when the permafrost level rose above them the following winter.

A comprehensive description of frozen animals in the far north is given by Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe.38 Much other very useful information can be found in After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America.39

Many authors, including the Society's writers, often claim that animal remains found in caves are evidence of the Flood. They say that thousands of remains found in a single cave prove that animals took refuge from the rising flood water. But is this the case? Let's look at some geological findings. On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals said about cave deposits in general:40

The quantity of mammalian remains found in caves and their fine state of preservation is sometimes astonishing. Two factors contribute to the accumulation of such deposits. Firstly, caves are places where remains tend to become concentrated by natural processes. Some caves are dangerous, with shafts in their roofs down which mammals may fall. In addition, some animals use caves as breeding places or eating or sleeping shelters and they may die there or leave the bones of their prey there. Secondly, though not invariably, caves are places where remains are likely to survive as fossils, once they have been deposited there. They are protected from weathering by the cave roof and the alkaline conditions prevailing in limestone caves favour the preservation of bone. Bones found in lava caves may be less well preserved.... [By] the early nineteenth century, it was becoming apparent to those who were beginning to excavate in caves that the processes that had led to the accumulation there of sediment and bones in the past could, in favourable situations, still be observed taking place at the present day. Studies of this fossilization in action, together with the development of excavation techniques that separate fossils from different layers, have since developed into the sophisticated methods being applied by palaeontologists today....

Natural open shafts are common wherever there are caves.... Such open shafts act as collecting places for debris falling in from above. If there is no cave stream below to wash it away, this builds up to form a conical talus which may finally block the shaft to ground level. Such shafts are of great danger to animals walking nearby, which may fall into them, their bones then becoming incorporated into the talus deposit below. A skeleton of a rhinoceros recently found beneath a 'sky light' in the roof of a lava cave on Mount Suswa in Kenya, was of an animal that had apparently fallen in from above.

One of the finest examples in the world of a talus cone with remains of Pleistocene mammals beneath a once open shaft was discovered in 1939 in Joint Mitnor Cave, Buckfastleigh, Devon in southwest England. Among the animals that had fallen into this were the hippopotamus, narrow-nosed rhinoceros, straight-tusked elephant, bison, giant deer, red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, cave lion, spotted hyaena, wolf, fox, wild cat, badger, brown bear, hare and rodents. The fauna is characteristically warm and is believed to be of Last Interglacial age, about 120,000 years old. It is of special significance that, although there is a fair representation of carnivorous species, most of the bones are of herbivores, especially bison, which are the animals which make up most of any mammalian population on the surface and which are statistically most likely to become entombed in this manner....

Occasionally such deposits may be so saturated with water that they turn into mudflows and progress along cave passages carrying incorporated bones with them. In this way, bones can be transported for considerable distances underground without the aid of running water.

Although water-laid sediments, both those laid down along stream beds.... and in still water lakes, are very common in caves, the frequency with which bone deposits have been explained away by 'washing underground' greatly exceeds the number of instances where this has really happened.... Considerable concentrations of mammalian bones do nevertheless sometimes occur in Pleistocene stream deposits in caves; and here it is necessary to consider whether any other process has also taken part in their assembly.

The hippopotamus-bearing deposits found in the cave near Yealmpton, Devon,.... were composed of horizontally bedded layers of gravel, sand, silt and clay that had clearly been laid down by a former cave stream; though how the bones had found their way into these deposits was not at all clear when the cave, which was filled to the roof with sediment, was first accidentally broken into by quarrying operations. Further quarrying resulted in the opening of a large cave chamber with a series of small talus cones beneath shafts. The animals had apparently fallen into the cave, in the same manner that occurred in Joint Mitnor, and their remains were then secondarily picked up and carried away by the cave stream flowing through the chamber, for redeposition elsewhere along its course. Groups of hyaena coprolites (droppings) spread along the streamway suggest that live hyaenas also had access to the cave.

Most important of all the processes of bone accumulation in caves is the activity of cave dwelling animals, which may die underground or leave the remains of their food there. Man may also leave his implements and the ashes of his fires and bury his dead in caves.

Important examples of accumulations of remains of Pleistocene mammals carried into caves by Palaeolithic man include a pile of bones and skulls of woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros found during the Cambridge University excavations in the Cotte de St. Brelade, Jersey, in the 1960s and 70s; and great quantities of bones of horse and reindeer excavated over a century ago in the Cave of Bruniquel, Tarn et Garonne, France. Among the Bruniquel finds were numerous fragments of reindeer antlers which had been cut by Palaeolithic man, using sharp flint knives, for the removal of slivers of antlers that were to be fashioned into other tools. The waste fragments of antler had then been abandoned on the cave floor....

Of the animals known from fossil remains in European caves, probably the great cave bear of Western Europe has attracted the greatest attention. The Drachenhole, a cave near Mixnitz in Austria, is estimated to have contained the remains of over 30,000 cave bears, which accumulated as a result of a small number of animals continuing to occupy the cave over a long period of time.

On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals describes many more examples of Pleistocene cave deposits, of which this is the last I will show:

Another important cave site [is Victoria Cave, Settle, Yorkshire], first excavated a century ago, with a lower cave earth filled with hippopotamus, straight-tusked elephant, narrow-nosed rhinoceros, hyaena and other mammals; overlain by a long series of later deposits. These show that the area was subsequently glaciated; and there was later occupation by upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Romano-British man. There can be few British caves which demonstrate in such a striking manner the climatic fluctuations of the Pleistocene. The cave is situated at an altitude of 400 metres on craggy moorland, and it seems incredible, at the present day, to think of hippos walking across this wild part of the Yorkshire moors.41

A question sometimes asked is, How could such large animals as mammoths survive on the presumably meager diet provided by the Arctic? Apparently they were migratory, and so were in the worst parts of the Arctic only in summer. This is similar to the behavior of caribou today. A few comments from National Geographic, June 1988, p. 759, concerning musk-oxen that live on Ellesmere Island may be instructive. They survive "by living in relatively low densities and covering a lot of ground.... It is hard to believe that such a large herd animal can survive in any numbers on so spare a diet."

I believe that the evidence considered here should settle the matters of the supposed sudden freezing of the polar regions, "frozen mammoths," and the like. There is little evidence that a flood killed large numbers of animals all at the same time. There is much evidence that they died over a long period of time as a result of natural events. The majority of mammoth carcasses in Siberia have been found in an upright position, indicating they were not swept away by a flood. Mammoths and such were not quick-frozen -- this is simply a popular myth. In Siberia, large numbers of mammoth skeletons and ivory are found simply because there were many mammoths living there for hundreds of thousands of years, and large bones and ivory deteriorate slowly in the Arctic climate. The misleading Saturday Evening Post article of 1960 should not be used as evidence. In many publications, the Society refers to various other sources that say things similar to the Post article, but the original references are generally not given. Without these references, any conclusions drawn from such quotations must be viewed with suspicion. To illustrate, one reference I've found -- Byron Nelson's The Deluge Story in Stone, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minn., 1931 -- is so full of inaccuracies that it is ludicrous to quote from it.

A major unknown for scientists is the cause of extinction of the ice age animals. But the Flood theory does not explain these extinctions, either. Genesis implies that every kind of animal was saved, and yet many kinds became extinct, such as giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats, mammoths, and mastodons. It cannot be argued that these were just different varieties of today's animals that are no longer seen. For example, what animal do you know that is related to the extinct giant ground sloth? Mammoths and mastodons, "according to E. H. Colbert, a vertebrate paleontologist, are 'as different as cats from dogs.'"42 Lastly, why would so many animals become extinct as a result of the Flood? Why was God's command to Noah, to take two of "every living creature of every sort of flesh.... of all moving animals of the ground according to their kinds, two of each will go in there to you to preserve them alive," not obeyed? This is a serious problem for one who argues for the truth of the Flood account.

Finally, how could the Society's writers not be aware of the details I've presented from the Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1903 writeup on the Berezovka mammoth? Picture credits from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. for a photo of this mammoth are given in both the God's Word or Man's book and the Creation book. If the writers went to the trouble of obtaining the photo, they must have, or they should have, also obtained the original writeup in which it appeared, just as I did.

With the above material fresh in mind, note the comments from the 1989 book The Bible -- God's Word or Man's?43

Another evidence for the Flood appears to exist in the fossil record. At one time, according to this record, great saber-toothed tigers stalked their prey in Europe, horses larger than any now living roamed North America, and mammoths foraged in Siberia. Then, all around the world, species of mammals became extinct. At the same time, there was a sudden change of climate. Tens of thousands of mammoths were killed and quick-frozen in Siberia. Alfred Wallace, the well-known contemporary of Charles Darwin, considered that such a widespread destruction must have been caused by some exceptional world-wide event. Many have argued that this event was the Flood.

The writer assumes all the animals became extinct in one global event and the climate suddenly changed at the same time. He gives no evidence for this. The actual evidence is that the climate changed relatively rapidly, from cold to warm conditions, over a period of a few thousand years. He states that huge numbers of animals were quick-frozen, again without citing evidence. The evidence for his statements is actually found in the citation for Alfred Wallace. The citation is from Time-Life's Ice Ages, which I cite many times in this essay. A few quotations from this book will show the actual situation, which the writer of The Bible -- God's Word or Man's seems to have missed. Wallace's statements turned out to be incorrect, as is shown by further discussion in Ice Ages. After describing the discovery and loss of a mammoth carcass (mentioned above) by a man named Benkendorf, the book says:44

Benkendorf's dramatic find brought him face to face with one of the great mysteries of the Ice Age: What could have caused the sudden, worldwide extinction of the giant mammals, or megafauna, that inhabited the earth until only a few thousand years ago? After making a systematic review of past and present species, the eminent zoologist Alfred Russel Wallace would conclude several decades after Benkendorf's adventure: "We live in a zoologically impoverished world, from which all the hugest, and fiercest, and strangest forms have recently disappeared. It is surely a marvelous fact, and one that has hardly been sufficiently dwelt upon, this sudden dying out of so many large mammalia, not in one place only but over half the land surfaces of the globe."

The toll of death was especially apparent in Siberia, where, according to a 19th Century geologist, "the bones of elephants are said to be found occasionally crowded in heaps along the shores of the icy seas from Archangel to Behring's Straits, forming whole islands composed of bones and mud at the mouth of the Lena (a river west of the Indigirka), and encased in icebergs, from which they are melted out by the solar heat of their short summer in sufficient numbers to form an important item of commerce."....

One of the first people to grapple with some of the difficult questions surrounding the death of the gigantic Ice Age beasts was the Reverend William Buckland, professor of geology and mineralogy at Oxford University, who examined what he called a "charnel house" of prehistoric remains in a cave at Kirkdale, Yorkshire, in 1821. In addition to the fossils of animals native to cold and temperate climates, the cave contained the teeth and bones of warm-climate elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses. Scientists now know that these species inhabited northern Europe during the last interglacial, but Buckland was puzzled, he wrote in 1824, to find that a cave in northern England should be the last resting place of species that "at present exist only in tropical climates, and chiefly south of the equator." He was equally disturbed by the fact that the tropical species had apparently occupied the site only a short time after [italics added] the cold-climate animals. However, he deliberately avoided drawing the conclusion that shifts in climatic conditions could have caused successive waves of extinction....

See page 21 of this essay for a discussion of these findings, showing that that Wallace's idea of a charnel house was based on incomplete reconstruction of the cave findings.

In 1876 Alfred Wallace advanced one of the first and most obvious theories to explain the extinctions. Enough bones and fossils had been collected by then to permit him to catalogue and mourn the passing of a long list of vanished fauna.... The elimination of so many species, Wallace wrote, must have been the result of some exceptional event that had occurred almost simultaneously in many parts of the world. Citing evidence that the northern portions of both Europe and North America had been covered with ice when these large animals were disappearing, Wallace maintained that the ice had probably "acted in various ways to have produced alterations of level of the ocean as well as vast local floods, which would have combined with the excessive cold to destroy animal life."....

It is clear where the writer of The Bible -- God's Word or Man's? got his information about Wallace's ideas. The question remains, were Wallace's ideas correct? Ice Ages continues:

.... it was the timing of the extinctions that cast the most serious doubts on Wallace's hypothesis. Even in his lifetime, scientists knew that not all of the extinctions had occurred during the coldest phase of the last ice age. Charles Darwin, on his famous expedition to South America aboard the Beagle beginning in 1831, had found fossils of many extinct species in sediments laid down after the last glaciation. Darwin's finds were significant; modern radiocarbon dating of the remains later confirmed that the main wave of extinctions occurred not when the ice sheets reached their greatest extent, but after they had begun to retreat. And so the mystery deepened....

Many animals other than humans lived in caves and consumed their prey there, leaving behind extensive documentation of prehistoric dining habits. During the 19th Century, examination of a cave in South Devon unearthed fossilized bones of some 20,000 hyenas. The same cave was further excavated in the 1940s; this time, examination of cave-floor strata revealed that during a period of 200,000 years the cave had been occupied by successive generations of wolverines, bears, hippopotamuses, woolly rhinoceroses, elk and humans.

So significant changes in climate and fauna did occur. The point is how long did it take? How sudden were the changes? Did they occur within the year allotted to the Flood, or did they take longer? Continuing with the above quotation, Ice Ages said concerning events near the end of the last major glacial period, that the

conclusion of the cold period was marked by a toll of death the likes of which had never before afflicted the creatures of the earth.

The first wave of extinctions hit Africa some 60,000 years ago, about the time when the last major glacial advance of the Pleistocene crested. During the next 20,000 years, 40 per cent of the large mammals on the continent disappeared.... Eurasia was struck next. In Europe, about 50 per cent of the megafauna vanished.... The gradual elimination of these species also took about 20,000 years. In North America, however, the story was different. A full 70 per cent of the large animals.... died within the geological eyeblink of perhaps 1,000 years.

See also what was said above. So Wallace's first theory, that the extinctions happened suddenly and simultaneously worldwide, has proven incorrect. Had the writer of The Bible -- God's Word or Man's? considered the rest of the material in Ice Ages he would have seen there was no basis for his statements.


3 Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 610, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1988.

4 Life-How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, p. 203, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1985.

5 Ivan T. Sanderson, "Riddle of the Frozen Giants," The Saturday Evening Post, January 16, 1960.

6 Antony J. Sutcliffe, On The Track Of Ice Age Mammals, p. 49, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985.

7 Daniel E. Wonderly, God's Time-Records in Ancient Sediments, Crystal Press Publishers, Flint, Michigan, 1977.

8 Daniel E. Wonderly, Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, Hatfield, Pennsylvania, 1987.

8a Both are available from Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, POB 423, Hatfield PA, 19440-0423.

8b See, for example, Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950. Velikovsky exaggerated the findings of frozen animals, animal remains in caves and remains in other unusual circumstances. He has come to be regarded as "the very model of a crank." [Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, Martin Gardner, Prometheus Books, 1989, p. xiv] Sanderson may well have gotten some of his information from Velikovsky's best-selling book.

In case you are not familiar with Velikovsky's works, here is a summary from pages 4 and 381 of Science: Good, Bad and Bogus: "Dr. Velikovsky (he was trained in psychoanalysis) set himself the task of revising the laws of astronomy and physics, and rewriting vast globs of ancient history, to spin an incredible tale about the planet Venus that would 'explain' the major miracles of the Old Testament." "The book throws together a jumbled mass of data to support the preposterous theory that a giant comet once erupted from the planet Jupiter, passed close to the earth on two occasions, then settled down as Venus. The first visit to the earth of this erratic comet was precisely at the time Moses stretched out his hand and caused the Red Sea to divide. The manna which fell from the skies shortly thereafter was a precipitate, fortunately edible, of suspended elements in the celestial visitor's tail. Later the comet's return coincided with Joshua's successful attempt to make the sun and moon stand still. The miracles of both Moses and Joshua were the result, Velikovsky informs us, of a temporary cessation of the earth's spin." Also see Broca's Brain, Carl Sagan, Ballantine Books, 1979, for more on Velikovsky.

Another example is The Earth's Shifting Crust, Charles Hapgood, Philadelphia, 1958. He presents a theory that the earth's poles have slid around, giving rise to great catastrophes such as the Flood.

A third book is The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch, Donald W. Patten, Pacific Meridian Publishing Co., Seattle, WA, 1966, which has been cited in the Society's publications. The author refers quite favorably to the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and compares his own book to them, which shows the extent of his competence in the field of geology. This book is interesting because it gives a summary of the history of 20th century catastrophist authors. It even mentions Isaac Newton Vail, whose theories the Society espoused until the 1950s.

A fourth example is The Lost Ship of Noah, Charles Berlitz, G.P. Putnam's Son's, 1987, pp. 143-144. Berlitz is the author of such gems as Atlantis: The Eighth Continent, Doomsday 1999 A.D., Mysteries From Forgotten Worlds, and The Bermuda Triangle. He uncritically repeats the errors about quick-frozen mammals as expounded by Velikovsky and Hapgood.

A fifth example is The Bone Peddlers, William R. Fix, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984, pp. 230-231. Fix does a devastating job on the supposed evolution of man, but accepts the nonsense of both Sanderson and Hapgood. He similarly accepts evidence for ESP and other paranormal phenomena.

9 O. F. Herz, "Frozen Mammoth in Siberia," Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1903, p. 614, 1903. Extracts translated from the Russian.

10 William R. Farrand, "Frozen Mammoths and Modern Geology," Science, vol. 133, p. 734, March 17, 1961.

11 O. F. Herz, op cit, p. 621.

12 ibid, pp. 614-623.

12a Also see Dorothy B. Vitaliano, Legends of the Earth, The Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey; 1973, 1976; pp. 280-281.

13 ibid, pp. 620-622.

14 ibid, p. 612.

15 William R. Farrand, op cit, p. 734.

16 Bjorn Kurten, How To Deep-Freeze a Mammoth, pp. 51-52, Columbia University Press, New York, 1986. English Edition.

17 Norman D. Newell, Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality?, pp. 65-66, Columbia University Press, New York, 1982.

18 Windsor Chorlton, Ice Ages, pp. 53-54, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, VA, 1983.

19 Bjorn Kurten, op cit, pp. 57-59.

20 Bjorn Kurten, The Innocent Assassins, p. 194, Columbia University Press, New York, 1991.

21 Windsor Chorlton, op cit, p. 59.

22 Antony Sutcliffe, op cit, p. 41.

23 R. Dale Guthrie, Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1990.

24 R. Dale Guthrie, op cit, pp. 7-24.

25 ibid, pp. 1-44.

26 William R. Farrand, op cit, March 17, 1961.

27 ibid.

28 ibid.

29 ibid.

30 anonymous, op cit, p. 203.

30a Another misconception. Fossils of seashells are found embedded in the rocks on high mountains. Seashells themselves are never found just lying around on high mountain tops. This was recognized even in the 16th century by Leonardo Da Vinci, who "saw that the fossils were not simply strewn over the surface, but that the Appenines and Alps were almost wholly composed of fossil-filled rocks.... He deduced that the mountains were uplifted piles of river sediments and sea muds that had first hardened into shale, sandstone, and limestone, then folded and broken, and finally had been exposed to view by erosion." [Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality?, Norman D. Newell, p. 36.]

However, in some areas such as Scandinavia and New England, marine deposits have been found at elevations up to about 1000 feet. But these are always found in areas where there is evidence that ice sheets covered the area and depressed it below sea level. The book Islands, H. W. Menard, Scientific American Books, Inc., New York, 1986, pp. 75-76 says ".... the uplift of Scandinavia was long ago obvious because ancient seaports became unusably shallow, then emerged, and gradually became elevated above a receding shoreline. This uplift extended from Denmark to the northern tip of Norway and from the Atlantic to eastern Finland. Nonetheless, it was a local phenomenon with a local cause. During the ice ages of the past million years, the whole region that now has elevated shorelines was covered by a continental ice cap centered in the northern end of what is now the Gulf of Bothnia. The load of the ice on the continental crust made a dish-shaped depression surrounded by a peripheral bulge. When the ice began to melt, the warped rocks began to resume their original shape. At the shrinking periphery of the ice, the sea cut terraces and left dateable marine fossils. By correlating terraces of the same age, it is possible to map the amount and rate of uplift of the deglaciated region. The center has been uplifted 500 [meters], and the amount of uplift is progressively less toward the edges of the former ice cap. Moreover, exactly the same evidence of differential, regional uplift can be obtained with tide gauges. Near Copenhagen, the sea floor is rising at 3 cm per century; at Stockholm the rise is 50 cm per century, and at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia it is 110 cm per century. All these phenomena are also observed in North America, where there was another ice cap."

The areas of marine submergence in the United States are shown on a map in Earth, Frank Press, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1986, p. 253, which clearly shows that parts of coastal Maine and the Lake Champlain area of New York were under water for a time. Fossil skeletons of seals and whales have been found in these areas. The Lake Champlain area was connected to an arm of the Saint Lawrence seaway, and Lake Champlain still drains there. For a thorough discussion see After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America, E.C. Pielou, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1991.

Similar warping of the crust is observed in the British Isles, where Scotland, which was under ice, is rising, and the London area, which was not, is sinking.

31 William R. Farrand, op cit, March 17, 1961.

32 Bjorn Kurten, op cit.

33 Windsor Chorlton, op cit.

34 ibid, p. 70.

35 Antony Sutcliffe, op cit, p. 41.

36 ibid, pp. 105-116.

37 ibid, p. 114.

38 R. Dale Guthrie, op cit.

39 E. C. Pielou, After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1991.

40 Antony Sutcliffe, op cit, pp. 74-80.

41 ibid, p. 139.

42 Norman D. Newell, op cit, p. 68.

43 The Bible -- God's Word or Man's?, pp. 114-115, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1989.

44 Windsor Chorlton, op cit, pp. 54-69.

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