Treasure hunters swear the East River contains prehistoric woolly mammoth bones

Ask individuals what you may discover buried in the muck at the backside of New York Metropolis’s East River and so they’d possible say “mob boss” earlier than pondering of mammoth bones.

However a number of teams of treasure hunters have taken to the waterway in latest weeks after listening to a visitor on comic Joe Rogan’s podcast declare a boxcar’s value of probably precious prehistoric mammoth bones was dumped in the river in the Forties.

Regardless of an absence of proof to again up the story, treasure seekers utilizing boats, diving apparatuses and know-how like remote-operated cameras have gone looking, in hopes the murky waters are hiding woolly mammoth tusks.

“I think the chances are just as good as the lottery. And people buy those tickets every day,” stated Don Gann, 35, of North Arlington, New Jersey, a industrial diver who’s been out on the water since early final week together with his brother and two employees.

It began when John Reeves, an Alaskan gold miner with a ardour for fossils, got here onto “The Joe Rogan Experience” for an episode that aired Dec. 30 to speak about his land, the place he has personally uncovered quite a few age-old bones and tusks. In the first half of the twentieth century, below earlier possession, digging for gold unearthed a trove of prehistoric mammal stays.

A few of that materials was dropped at New York Metropolis many years in the past to be handed over to the American Museum of Pure Historical past. Reeves cited a draft of a report put collectively by three males, together with one who labored at the museum, that included a reference to some fossils and bones deemed unsuitable for the museum being dumped into the river.

“I’m going to start a bone rush,” Reeves advised Rogan, earlier than studying from the draft and giving out a location: East River Drive, which is now referred to as the FDR Drive, at round sixty fifth Avenue.

“We’ll see if anybody out there’s got a sense of adventure,” he stated, later including, “Let me tell you something about mammoth bones, mammoth tusks – they’re extremely valuable.”

After the episode aired, the American Museum of Pure Historical past threw water as chilly as the East River on the story.

“We do not have any record of the disposal of these fossils in the East River, nor have we been able to find any record of this report in the museum’s archives or other scientific sources,” it stated in a press release.

East River, a lovely shade of green
The East River seen from the Higher East Facet of the Manhattan borough of New York is seen Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. Woolly mammoth tusks had been allegedly dumped in the waterway in the mid 1900s. (AP Picture/Mary Altaffer)

When reached by The Related Press through phone, Reeves refused to speak and as a substitute advised a reporter to learn the pages of the draft he had posted on social media earlier than hanging up. He didn’t reply different calls and emails.

The pages posted on social media establish three males as the authors: Richard Osborne, an anthropologist; Robert Evander, who previously labored in the American Museum of Pure Historical past’s paleontology division; and Robert Sattler, an archeologist with a consortium of Alaska Native tribes.

Reached by The Related Press, Sattler stated the story about the dumped bones got here from Osborne, who died in 2005.

The doc cited by Reeves was actual, he stated, and written in the mid-Nineties. Nevertheless it wasn’t one thing supposed for an educational journal. It was a place to begin for one thing — possibly a ebook — primarily based on Osborne’s information of a interval in Alaska when mammoth stays had been being found in a lot. Osborne’s father labored at an organization concerned in the digging.

Sattler stated Osborne hung out round the operation as a younger man and doubtless heard the story about surplus bones being dumped in the river secondhand. Sattler stated he didn’t have any specifics past Osborne’s recollections.

“He would have had some knowledge from somebody telling him that they dumped some excess material in the East River,” he stated.

Mammoth stays found in Alaska did wind up at the American Museum of Pure Historical past, together with some still on display today.

The part of the Manhattan shoreline the place Reeves claimed the bones had been dumped underwent main modifications in the Nineteen Thirties and Forties, as the East River Drive, later renamed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was constructed on fill and pilings. The freeway opened absolutely to drivers in 1942, elevating questions on how somebody would have dumped an enormous trove of bones with out disrupting site visitors.

Gann stated he’s seen about two dozen different units of fossil hunters in the time he’s spent looking for mammoth stays out on the East River.

Visibility in the East River is extraordinarily poor, he stated. On a very good day, you’ll be able to see possibly a foot in entrance of you. The present at the backside is powerful.

However the avid diver, who appeared in Discovery’s “Sewer Divers,” has a factor for seeking out uncommon finds — though mammoth bones are admittedly on a distinct scale than discovering a Paul Revere spoon at an property sale.

“I’ve hunted for weird artifacts my entire life, so this one, it just kind of fits into my repertoire,” Gann stated.

He and his crew haven’t discovered something, which he admits is disappointing, but it surely has spurred him to do a few of his personal digging into historical past. He’s switched his sights to a location off of the southern a part of Brooklyn, saying it will have been a extra possible website for cargo to be dumped than the East River off Manhattan.

“If I find nothing, then I find nothing. I gave it an honest shot,” Gann stated.

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