Search This Blog

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Decemystery (2019) 12: The Ghost Mammoth

Hug the mammoth.
Initially, I found this mystery to be extremely silly, hence why I picked it. Though the more I think about it as I begin to write this entry, the less silly it becomes. A very popular type of ghost story comes into the form of hellhounds, which are said to be demons that take the form of dogs with pitch black fur. Then there are reports of dogs that are outright ghosts—typically said to be spiritual guardians. There are, however, “Door Dogs”, which are said to be omens of one's imminent demise. On a more absurd note, I  recall hearing a story of two kids that encountered the ghosts of velociraptors.

So in theory, the idea of a Ghost Mammoth isn't too outlandish. Though it's still something I can't help but snicker at. The thought of a giant wooly mammoth ghost stomping around a dimly lit road is rather funny. Ah well, let's see what this mammoth sized tale has to offer us.

My Spirit Animal: The Mystery of the Ghost Mammoth

I am not sorry for that pun.

Our story takes place during September of 2008. A lady by the name of Jill O’Brien went to Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. She’d taken a trip there from Oklahoma City, where she had just moved, and was more than a little keen on grabbing photographs of the park’s magnificent views.

During this trip, Jill experienced something that blurred the lines between a paranormal encounter and something cryptozoological. As she prepared to take a photograph of Mount St. Elias, she heard what she would later describe in an interview with the website as “thudding” and “crunching”. Believing that it was possible a bear, but when she turned around, she was met with something significantly more dumbfounding.

A Woolly Mammoth—or rather a calf—stood behind here. It stood at roughly four feet in height and, upon being seen, rushed past her and vanished into what Jill later stated was a “black cloud” that “sucked into itself” before disappearing.

All told, the encounter lasted no more than a few seconds. Despite this, Jill was, and still is, apparently adamant that what she was the ghost of the Woolly Mammoth. However, since then, no other reports have been made of the spectral fossil roaming around the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. So let’s get into the theories and discuss what this enigma may have been.


Due to the lack of reporting on this story, I’ve picked out the five most likely theories one would throw around in regards to this story. As such, these are solely from me and not anyone else.

1. It was a hallucination

To spice things up, I won’t go with the most obvious theory and instead start off with the theory that it was all a hallucination. Exactly how or why, I cannot tell you. She wasn’t very high up in the mountains and the oxygen levels where she was were perfectly fine. Look, I wanted five theories instead of four so my OCD wouldn’t eat away at me.

2. It was a spirit animal

The second theory is probably the most obvious one: it was a spirit animal. There are a few definitions on what a spirit animal is, so let me go over the two most common.

The first is an animal that you identify the most with. A leader would likely identify with a lion while a thief or charlatan would identify with a weasel. These choices are generally picked through one’s social behavior, whether you’re easily scared or brave, someone who loves to play with others or prefers to spend time alone, and whether you’re a teacher to others or a student. This idea of a spirit animal is generally tied to something like astrology.

The second definition comes from Native American culture and Shamanistic beliefs. A spirit animal is generally described as a guardian angel of sorts; it’s a spirit that takes the form of an animal (like a bear, wolf, or eagle) that will guide someone through a place like a forest, assist them in certain tasks, or protect them from a wild animal that would otherwise do the person harm.

In the case of Jill, I’m going to make up a scenario in which this Woolly Mammoth was her spirit animal. Initially, Jill believed that a bear was behind her. However, the mammoth that she saw did something—perhaps banished it—to protect her and then ran off when noticed because it was scared, or had to go elsewhere.

This scenario is, admittedly, a bit on the silly side. While I haven’t studied cultures that believe in spirit animals, I don’t believe that any of them teach that spirit animals are young. They’re generally stated to be adult animals that protect and watch over those they’re connected to. Nevertheless, this theory is the first one that came to mind when I initially read over this story.

3. It was a hoax

Our third theory posits that it was all made up by Jill. For what reason is up for debate, but one can argue that she wanted attention, fame, or to simply make the news. People have, in the past, faked things for an array of reasons. Some of my favorites are the ones where people do it just because they could.

In this case, there’s no clear motivation for the hoax, but one can—plausibly at least—argue that Jill made it up to boost her name recognition since she’s a photographer. Alaska is a generally frigid location and if the Woolly Mammoth were alive anywhere, it would be either there are in Siberia.

4. A time slip

Ah, time slips. The theory that someone can slip back in time for brief periods because time itself has a little hiccup of sorts. These stories are fascinating and really bizarre. There have been claims that people who were going for walks have slipped into Victorian-era London, have slipped into the Civil War (I think there have been reports of this) and then there’s the Man from Taured.

In this case, I’m proposing this theory for one reason: it was quick (which time slips are generally described as being like) and no one else has experienced it. While some areas are supposedly more prone to being associated with time slips, the number of reports isn’t up there with the likes of Bigfoot or UFOs. As such, one could argue that Jill was merely lucky and time slipped back to the Ice Age for a brief moment before correcting itself and placing her back in her own time period.

5. It was a ghost

The fifth and final theory is that it was simply the ghost of a mammoth. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps the animal died at the hands of a hunter and its spirit was awoken by Jill because she reminded it of her. Maybe the creature was merely revisiting its last moments alive. Or the creature is trapped in an endless look where it was part of a stampede. Such possibilities are known only to the mammoth and given the lack of sightings since then, I’m doubtful that we’ll get answers out of it.

My Take

I’ve heard stories of ghost animals before. Silly as it may seem, there have been reports that someone’s long deceased pet dog or cat has been seen. I also stated that someone claims to have seen a dinosaur—a story that I cannot find unfortunately, but I think it may have been from either Lazy Masquerade or Let’s Read.

I digress. These ghostly animals have been seen as an array of things. A sign of one’s imminent demise, a harbinger of bad or good luck, demons taking the form of a beloved pet, and simply the ghost of a beloved pet. The numerous variants on what they represent is incredible and could make for a write-up on its own. As such, I’m inclined to say that, despite how silly it seems, maybe Jill O’Brien did see something while out in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. However, I’m also skeptical thanks to it being the only sighting. It could’ve been a hallucination, but I lean towards it being something potentially real—personally anyways.


The Woolly Mammoth is one of those creatures that people have been fascinated with; it’s the Ice Age equivalent to the Tyrannosaurus Rex in that regard. As such, I think there’s a certain level of desire that one has when reading a story like this. People want it to be real because they have an innate love for the animal that’s at the center of it all. Or perhaps I’m projecting and it’s merely how I think. EIther way, let me know what you think. Me, personally, I’m going to try and conjure up a ghostly saber-toothed tiger.

1 comment:

  1. ......Mammoth Spirit Animals, that's a new one. Still cool though. Yeah, this one is extremely silly, like pulp silly, but there's something about it you just can't help but love.