Over the past few weeks, treasure hunters have started exploring New York City’s East River in an effort to find mammoth bones that they believe could be at the bottom.
The hype — and searches — began when John Reeves, a gold miner from Alaska, appeared on Joe Rogan’s mega-popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” The episode was released on December 30, and in it, Reeves discussed his property where he has found several tusks and bones.
Several decades ago, when different people owned his land, the remains of prehistoric animals were found during searches for gold. Some of the items were taken to New York City to be given to the American Museum of Natural History. Reeves pointed to a draft report that discussed how some bones and fossils were dropped into the river after the museum didn’t accept them.
Reeves told Rogan he was “going to start a bone rush” and then read from the report, and announced the site of East River Drive, which is now called FDR Drive.
“We’ll see if anybody out there’s got a sense of adventure,” he said later on, noting, “Let me tell you something about mammoth bones, mammoth tusks — they’re extremely valuable.”
Reeves told a member of The Associated Press that the person should look at the draft, which he posted online.
As the Guardian reported, Robert Sattler, one of the authors of the draft, told the AP that another author — Richard Osborne — originated the story about the mammoth bones. Osborne, however, died in 2005. Sattler said the draft report was authentic, but it wasn’t supposed to be put in a scholarly journal. Rather, it was the beginning of something else, perhaps a book centered on Osborne’s understanding.
Sattler said he didn’t have details past what Osborne recalled, but noted that Osborne was close to the recovery of mammoth bones in Alaska when he was younger.
“He would have had some knowledge from somebody telling him that they dumped some excess material in the East River,” Sattler said.
The American Museum of Natural History pushed back on the story, possibly attempting to wave off any would-be treasure hunters. However, they were not entirely successful.
“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,” the museum said in a statement.
“I think the chances are just as good as the lottery. And people buy those tickets every day,” Don Gann said, per CBS News. Gann is a 35-year-old commercial diver from New Jersey and has been looking in the water since the early part of last week with three others.
Gann also noted that he has seen around 24 other groups of people out looking.
“I’ve hunted for weird artifacts my entire life, so this one, it just kind of fits into my repertoire,” Gann, who was also in Discovery’s “Sewer Divers,” said.
Gann hasn’t discovered anything, but he has moved locations to a different area of the city, claiming that it would have been a more realistic dumping spot.
“If I find nothing, then I find nothing. I gave it an honest shot,” Gann said.