Preservation of the mammoth remains was somewhat different than has been imagined by the u

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Preservation of the mammoth remains was somewhat different than has been imagined by the uninformed. The mammoths were 'mummified', a process that is quite easily done in a cold environment. Guthrie compares it to the process that packaged meat undergoes in a freezer. The following is from Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe by Guthrie: "The word *mummy* has long been used to describe carcasses preserved in northern permafrost. Some have objected to this usage on the basis that preservation by freezing is unlike 'real' mummification of an embalmed or dried corpse. However, frozen carcasses, like Dima and Blue Babe, (two well preserved carcasses described in his book, Dima is a baby mammoth, Blue Babe is a bison) are indeed desiccated and fully deserve to be called mummies." "Underground frost mummification should not be confused with freeze-drying, which occurs when a body is frozen and moisture is removed by sublimatioin, a process accelerated by a partial vacuum. ....... I have often freeze-dried items, sometimes inadvertantly, during our long Alaskan winters, where the temperature seldom rises above freezing for eight months of the year." "However, the desiccation of fossil mummies is quite different than freeze- drying. Moisture contained in a buried carcase is not released to the atmosphere but is crystallized in place, in ice lenses around the mummy. This process is more comparable to tightly wrapped food left too long in a freezer. When a stew is first frozen, it swells to a somewhat larger size, bulging the sealed plastic container. The longer it stays in the freezer, month after month, the more the moisture begins to separate, forming ice crystals inside the container. The stew itself shrinks and desiccates. Year follows year, and the stew becomes more and more desiccated, as ice segregates from it. Eventually, the stew has become a shriveled, dehydrated block; unlike freeze-drying in which the object theoretically retains its original form, the stew is shrunken in size and surrounded by a network of clear ice crystals. Soft tissue becomes mummified and shrunken down, looking like a desiccated mummy dried in the sun. These two processes of cold mummification and freeze-drying were not distinctly understood by people unfamiliar with long winters and the back corners of deep freezers" (Guthrie) The picture in the Sutcliffe book shows the front leg of the Beresovka mammoth. The muscles are dried straps over the bones, quite as Guthrie describes, looking very mummified. As for instant freezing, as claimed by Ted Holden, there is no evidence of that. The Berezovka mammoth shows evidence of having been buried in a landslide, the cold mud acting as preservative and the underlying permafrost completing the process by freezing the carcass. "Lapparent attributes the extinction of the mammoth to a gradual increase in cold and a decrease in the supply of food, rather than to a cataclysmic flood." ...Quackenbush (1909) concluded that the partial mammoth mummy from Eschscholtz Bay, Alaska, was so deteriorated as to exclude "sudden fall in temperature" theories...." I am still doing research on Mammoth diet and climate at the time of the burial of the Berezovka mammoth. Types of data being studied, stomach and mouth contents of the said mammoth, stomach contents of other mammoths found. Lake bottom sediment cores, showing pollen and vegetation over the last 10,000 years. Comments by Guthrie on how the climatic changes of the ice age affected the ratio of edible vegetation from then to present. Estimation of snow depths on Mammoth Steppe during ice age. Ice cores from glaciers. I am also still waiting for more books I requested through interlibrary loan. Sue

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