Raising the Mammoth (2000) Movie Script

In a desert of ice
at the edge of the earth
the search is on for something
out of this world.
It began with a dream
to awaken a sleeping giant and
raise it from its tomb.
And through the powers of science
to see it rise again.
One man
one mission.
The quest for the woolly mammoth.
Once a week
the Iliushin 18 touches down
on a remote airstrip
in Siberia's far north.
Khatanga, a forgotten town above
the Arctic Circle
was a Soviet outpost during
the Cold War.
Isolated by politics and geography
it seems like it's been asleep
for decades.
Khatanga is a way station for
outdoorsmen and explorers
like Frenchman, Bernard Buigues.
Since 1991
Bernard has led expeditions
to the North Pole,
and this has become his home
away from home.
To find and raise an extinct
woolly mammoth
from the frozen tundra is
this year's mission.
Long-time friend Anatoly Androssov
will provide key support.
Nicknamed "niet problem," Anatoly
is a mechanical wizard.
In a place where equipment
is ancient
and spare parts a good barter,
Anatoly's know-how will safeguard
the mission's success.
In his hunt for the ancient animal,
Bernard gathers ammunition with
21 st century tools.
The woolly mammoth reigned during
the last Ice Age
which began a hundred thousand
years ago.
The mammoth and modern elephant are
part of an ancient
order of mammals known as
the proboscideans for their trunks.
Their earliest link may have been
an amphibious animal
with a pig-like body and no tusks.
Other distant relatives developed
strange-Iooking lower tusks
resembling shovels
or fangs.
With roots in Africa dating back
four million years
ancient mammoths and elephants were
that walked the Earth together
before taking separate evolutionary
Only the Asian and African elephants
would survive to this century.
Whether the mammoth is more closely
related to its Asian
or African cousin is a matter of
scientific debate.
But as it moved away from tropical
it's clear that its anatomy changed
An adaptation to the cold,
the mammoths' ears shrank
as they migrated north to the Arctic.
They developed long shaggy fur
and a domed skull to hold the weight
of heavy tusks.
And their tusks grew long and curvy,
perhaps to clear the ground
as they foraged for grass and plants.
Masters of adaptation,
they thrived across the northern
In Bernard's kitchen,
plans for the mammoth hunt are
Vladimir Eisner,
a Russian interpreter with a 22-year
case of Arctic fever,
is up for the challenge.
It's a toast to success.
To hunt the animal lost to history
12,222 years ago,
Bernard must travel even
farther north.
In his two-year search
he's had little success.
But he charters a helicopter,
the only reliable way to check out
a promising new lead.
Experts think that some 12 million
mammoth remains
may be locked in the permafrost
most in northwestern Siberia
and here in the Taimyr Peninsula
where Bernard is focusing his search.
Over the years, he's done some
with a nomadic tribe of reindeer
He's convinced that the Dolgans
can help him.
In their travels
they find mammoth tusks,
and where there are tusks
there might be remains.
In a land of scarcity, bartering
is the custom.
I will give him spare parts...
A deal is struck, and the pay-off
Yes, the Dolgan chief confirms,
he found a pair of tusks in
a hillside a summer ago.
It was the first time
I saw real tusks in good condition
in tundra.
It was very cold time,
but I was so excited to see the
first pair of tusks,
because the tusks belonged to
the same animal.
Of course at the same minutes
I have some pain in my hands,
but for me it was very exciting.
If you're looking for tusks in
perfect shape,
the Dolgan chief urges
go see my sons
just a few miles down the tundra.
Vladimir asks if the men,
Guenady and Gavril Jarkov,
can help Bernard locate a
museum-quality mammoth.
There's only one way to find out.
Reindeer herders of Turko-Mongolian
the Dolgans are at home anywhere on
the tundra.
The only humans in an inhuman
the Dolgans eke their living out
of the ice
Insulated against the cold
with reindeer pelts,
their small mobile homes hold
everything they own.
Surviving the Siberian winter
is tough
and the Dolgans make do by hunting,
fishing and trading ivory they
harvest for things they can't find
or make - food supplies
and ammunition.
It's 32 below zero when the men
reach Guenady's camp.
But out here, strangers are
a startling sight.
The surprise is mutual.
Bernard realizes that he's met
Guenady Jarkov several years' back.
Once they've gotten reacquainted,
he broaches the subject of his visit
and asks for help.
Hidden under a canvas tarp to
protect them from the elements
and the eyes of strangers is
a dazzling sight,
two exquisitely preserved tusks from
an adult woolly mammoth.
Each one over 3 meters long and
weighing 45 kilos.
For me it was unbelievable
because the
these tusks was like a sculpture
a modern sculpture,
by the color, by the shape.
For me it was difficult to
understand that these so-big,
three-meters-Iong tusks can belong
to an animal.
And I was like a like a child.
For the first time since 1997,
when his search for the mammoth
Bernard seems to be on
the right track.
Over tea in the home he shares with
his wife, son, and in-laws,
Guenady considers a request.
Bernard wants to know if the Jarkovs
will tell him where they found
the tusks
the place where a mammoth with flesh
and organs might still be buried.
To disturb it may be risky,
says Guenady's father-in-law.
Though he doesn't approve
the old Dolgan offers advice.
Be sure to honor tradition
he counsels the men.
If they succeed in taking a mammoth
carcass out of the earth,
they must give something back
a white reindeer and some coins.
Otherwise, the spirits might
get angry and someone could die.
In a land as featureless as this one
it's hard to imagine how the Dolgans
might retrace their steps
to a distant patch of tundra.
But they can.
Long ago, the Dolgan lost their
written language
but their knowledge of the Taimyr
is encyclopedic.
Without compasses or maps they're
expert navigators
reading every bump on the terrain.
Gathering a small crew of scientists
and Russian laborers
Bernard decides to scout the site.
It's now or never if he wants to
dig this year.
The Siberian autumn is so fierce,
that there's only a small window of
to extract a mammoth from
the frozen earth.
Were he to dig in summer like
mammoth hunters before him,
the animal might decompose before it
left the ground.
For a hundred thousand years,
the woolly mammoth dominated
the landscape
one of the largest land mammals ever
to walk the planet.
With its shaggy mammoth-like coat
the musk ox
a protected species that survived
the Ice Age
is the largest remaining
Arctic mammal today.
Hopes are high as the helicopter
sets down 232 kilometers northwest
of Khatanga.
Bernard is heartened by the relative
softness of the ground.
Digging may be easier than expected.
The men are equipped for a month's
stay on the Taimyr.
They'll be in radio contact
with Anatoly
and the Russian authorities
responsible for their safety.
Otherwise, they're on their own.
Despite the sunny skies
it's well below zero.
Their first job is to set up camp.
Ah, a little bit more...
ah I think it's okay.
Conditions here can - and do -
change in a matter of hours.
The tents and porthole windows are
double thickness
to protect against gale-force winds
and the chill of polar nights.
They weigh close to 182 kilos.
Reindeer meat, one of the few things
in ample supply on the tundra
will be a staple of the team's diet
for the next month.
With a crew this small,
the men will have to take turns
in the kitchen
and the hunters among them
will help supply their table
with meat.
Frequent meals will help the men
conserve their energy
for digging in the cold.
Finding a woolly mammoth carcass
hidden in the tundra is a rarity.
Preserving it in its frozen state
almost unheard of.
If they succeed, it will be the find
of the century.
Like hunters from another age,
they hope to reap the spoils
of victory.
Radar will provide a two-dimensional
of the animal the Dolgans found.
It's programmed to detect the shape
of the mammoth,
the presence of flesh and bones.
Let's go 12 meters to the left side,
and then we go on this way.
If the animal is here,
Bernard wants to dig as close to it
as possible.
Ay, yay, yay yay...
It's very, very clear also that you
have between...
Bernard has enlisted the help of
a Swede named Per Wickstrom,
a specialist in ground-penetrating
It's the first time this method
will be tried
to take readings in permafrost.
Dolgan will call you shaman
because you can see!
Encouraged by the initial results
Bernard has his team clear away snow
from the research perimeter.
The next radar sweep will be
even more precise.
Per narrows the grid to sections
spaced only inches apart.
Are you ready?
Mark, mark, mark...
He'll use a smaller antenna to
locate shapes called anomalies.
...mark, mark, and finished.
Something's visible on the screen.
There's definitely something
down there.
Boris Lebedev, the outdoorsman
artist and poet
is to Bernard the quintessential man
of the tundra.
Without his calming presence and
his strength,
an expedition in such harsh
conditions would be unthinkable.
A breeder of sled dogs,
Boris admires authors such as
Jack London
and James Fenimore Cooper,
who also chronicled life
on the edge of civilization.
And to hunt a giant in the ice
perhaps a fitting quest.
From the mammoth that you have
begun to...
As the team prepares to break ground
Per interprets the data from the
latest radar surveys.
The findings will determine whether
or not Bernard gives the go-ahead
to carry on with the dig.
The results couldn't be better.
Five, seven, six...
Six, six meters totally.
Six meters totally.
But down quite deep here,
at approximately two point five
to three meter
there is a very large anomaly.
There on the screen is proof that
entombed in the permafrost
is something the size of
a woolly mammoth.
If they can find the ancient animal
imprisoned in the earth,
the plan is to carve a block
around it
build a steel frame under it
and airlift it to Khatanga by helicopter.
Penetrating earth as dense as
concrete is no easy task.
Permafrost, layers of clay,
silt and water compressed over
millennia, give way slowly,
even to the menacing teeth of
a chainsaw.
Using the most basic tools available
in Khatanga,
the work is backbreaking.
Progress is slower than expected.
But Bernard takes time to gather
permafrost samples
for a survey on the mammoth's little
studied habitat.
On the horizon is a welcome sight,
a herd of reindeer announcing the
arrival of the Dolgans.
All year 'round, the Dolgans travel
the tundra on wooden sleds,
harnessed to the reindeer they catch
and domesticate.
Guenady Jarkov has come as promised
to consult with Bernard.
He's brought along his family and
the magnificent Ice Age tusks.
The Dolgans use mammoth ivory
for buttons, tools,
and ornaments for their herds.
No one can wait to have a look
at the freshly cleared ground.
Guenady wants to show Bernard as
as possible how he found the tusks.
If Bernard can determine how
the mammoth lies underground,
he'll risk less of a chance of
damaging it while digging.
Hospitality is the rule on the tundra
and it's offered with gratitude.
The cooperation of the Dolgans on
this dig is a first.
Though their ancestors roved
the Taimyr for 422 years,
Bernard is the first mammoth hunter
to seek their advice
and to attempt to honor the rules of
their culture.
With the earth so resistant to
the advances of pick and shovel,
it could take days for the team to
move forward.
Bernard comes up with an idea
that may help move the process along.
It's a kind of makeshift greenhouse
designed to soften the ground.
And if it works, the men joke
they'll all want to camp there.
But it worked too well.
To warm the earth any further could
risk harming the animal inside.
On the tundra tonight,
there's a hope that the elusive
mammoth will show himself soon.
Within hours, the earth has yielded
its first sign of mammoth:
A molar, very well preserved.
Despite the signs of scavengers
Bernard is unfazed.
Like tree rings, the ridges in the
teeth reveal a mammoth's age.
This one is 47.
Do I have an idea, a better idea
of this?
And after I will try to put up
you will help me, yeah?
With the remains of the skull
now extracted
Bernard will focus his search
on the anomaly
so clearly displayed by the radar.
Over the ages, the mammoth's head
must have drifted slightly
from its body.
Bernard decides to reposition
the tusks.
That way, the team can assess
where the bulk of the mammoth lies
and how to resume the dig.
According to the radar,
what should remain in the earth is
a mammoth-sized carcass.
Take care of the end
and maybe Nico or Vladimir, take out?
No, don't touch.
Give me a little bit of snow
pack of snow. Please.
Concerned that a storm may be
on its way
Vladimir, a former meteorologist
radios Khatanga.
There's bad news in the forecast.
The men have abandoned
the solar tent opting
to dig in the granite-like
earth instead of the mud.
Like detectives scratching for
evidence at the scene of a crime
they leave no stone unturned.
Eventually, their perseverance
pays off.
The first clue plucked from the
permafrost is modest
but to the Ice Age detectives
a major victory.
It's the wiry hair of
a woolly mammoth.
The men are closing in on
their prehistoric prey
and they wonder if he knows...
The chance at a free meal has lured
an intruder to the mammoth site,
much to the annoyance of
the camp's sentinel.
It's an Arctic fox.
There's a story told on the Taimyr
of a hunter who
happening upon a mammoth carcass
feeds its meat to the dogs.
Stranger things have happened here.
Perhaps it's even true.
The tempest sweeps across the tundra
like a legion of Arctic ghosts.
Unwilling to stop until the last
possible moment,
the team labors on under precarious
Conspirators against time and the
the men savor an unlikely victory.
Out of respect for the Dolgans
Bernard names the mammoth Jarkov
after Guenady.
Frustrated by the slow pace of
a cold-weather dig,
Bernard tries an unorthodox but
effective way of speeding things up.
After some hours, start to appear
some piece of hair,
and also it start to smell something
coming from an animal.
It was a big pleasure to put my hand
in all this hair
and life was coming from the ground.
It was like touching a live animal.
At that time, I was sure that
the mammoth were here.
Not only with my eyes but also
with my hand,
with my nose, and with my head.
Making haste toward the campsite
is an unexpected refugee.
It's a Dolgan reindeer herder
who's passed through here before.
Not even masters of survival
on the Taimyr
want to weather a storm of this
magnitude alone.
As the hours pass,
the winds howl across the tundra
until all efforts
to resist their fury are pointless.
Too late to pack up and leave,
the only thing left to do is batten
down the hatches,
and wait it out.
The gusts are so powerful
that Boris has the team brace
the shimmying walls
with whatever's at hand.
To lose their shelter here
could be fatal.
No one knows for sure if the thin
canvas walls will hold up
against this kind of punishment.
All members of the expedition
are present
and accounted for except for one
Boris' dog.
Scraping snow from their clothing
is a basic safety precaution out here.
Staying dry in subzero temperatures could
mean the difference between
life and death.
Could this storm be the curse
the Dolgans warned of?
The work of vengeful spirits of
the earth?
Always this story was in my mind
and when come this storm,
for me was the first sign
that I was doing something not
in the harmony
of this culture Dolgan.
The fact that Boris' dog disappear
was not a coincidence.
Boris feel that he sacrifice his dog
to permit me
to do this work on the mammoth.
To capture an ancient mammoth is
a game of chance.
To raise it, a test of skill and luck.
If a pawn has been lost to
an unknown foe
they hope it will be the last.
Sleep might bring relief
from the storm
and the tedium of this endless day.
This is a good "chap" to sleep
during the polar day.
You put it on the head
and it makes a "op" and you sleep.
Whatever the storm has wrought
will have to wait until morning.
Daybreak, 26 hours after
the Arctic onslaught
an eerie calm hangs over the tundra.
Half the camp has been scattered
to the wind
and word has come that another storm
could hit by nightfall.
Salvaging whatever they can,
they prepare to break camp.
But first they must recover
the mammoth
from under 2 meters of snow.
They've come too far to let
the tundra reclaim their treasure.
Suiting up in white gloves and
protective clothing,
Bernard and his assistant are men
on a mission.
This one, in the name of science.
It's zero nine hundred.
Their assignment, to gather samples
of frozen mammoth tissue
in perfect condition for a scientist
in a distant lab.
The job is simple, if you know what
to look for.
And have the right tools...
Bernard hopes the frozen mammoth jaw
will yield perfect specimens.
Once the men have cleaned the jaw
by chiseling away permafrost,
they review the instructions given
to them miles
and worlds away from here.
Collect three samples of skin
and three of cartilage that have
never been defrosted
and preserve them in the specimen
vials provided.
If the samples are good
and make it home intact
who knows what secrets can be learned
about the behemoth of the Ice Age?
And whether the new millennium
will see it rise again?
If they do return
where will they roam?
Today the tundra belongs to others.
For 422 years, the Dolgan people
have lived in rhythm
with the seasons here at the
northernmost edge of the world.
Today, only a few hundred nomads
a region the size of California.
Following the Khatanga River
and the annual migrations of
wild reindeer
they hunt some and tame others much
like their ancestors did.
Baloks, simple homes of canvas
and hide
balanced on skids, protect against
the biting chill of the Arctic.
It's time to move on
and leave the mammoth
for another season.
The flight back to Khatanga takes
only an hour and a half.
As the dangers of the Arctic recede
into the night
the aircraft carries the men further
from their goal.
When the lights of civilization come
into view
the thought of warm beds
and creature comforts offers little
to the mammoth hunters.
The chance to free a woolly mammoth
from its ancient tomb is gone
for this year
yet so many questions remain.
Was it simply the weather,
or forces more complex that dealt
the team such a blow?
Bernard has arranged to store
the artifacts
from the Taimyr in an unusual icebox.
Three stories below the streets
of Khatanga
are caves that stretch for nearly
7 kilometers.
Built at the height of the Cold War
this enormous refrigerator can store
food for thousands...
and the remains of a woolly mammoth.
I saw him, I touch him, I smell it...
I was so close to him and
I wondered how he could escape
from me.
But at the same time I need to
think about the next step.
Whatever the next step,
there'll be no search until
next autumn.
It will take time and luck
to outmaneuver
the colossus of the tundra.
St. Petersburg, Russia
the Mecca for mammoth hunters.
Professor Nikolai Vereschagin
is a renowned paleontologist
and the man who may know more
than anyone else about the life
of the woolly mammoth.
The Russian is famous
for his 1977 excavation of a frozen
baby mammoth named Dima.
Bulldozed out of a Siberian riverbed,
the animal was almost
entirely preserved
with all of his internal organs
an extraordinary find.
Now in his early '92s, the oldest
living mammoth hunter
shares some basics with Bernard.
Tusks of dominant males could be
5 meters long.
The largest animals could
weigh 12 tons
double the size of an elephant
132 times the weight of
the average man.
Both Neanderthal and modern man
share a history with the mammoth.
In those days, men liked to
hunt mammoth
which was plentiful on the tundra.
Its enormous weight produced
three tons
of excellent meat all at once.
It could feed a lot of people
for a long time,
and so was most worthwhile for
the hunter of that period.
The St. Petersburg Museum houses
some of the world's most impressive
woolly mammoth remains.
With no natural predators
other than man
they thrived across the
northern hemisphere
for more than a hundred
thousand years.
Why the mammoth died out
while elephants survived
is a perplexing mystery.
After years on their trail
Professor Vereschagin has drawn
his own conclusions
about the mammoth's demise.
I support the climatic theory.
At the end of the Ice Age
there were major successive
climatic shifts
periods of cold followed by warming.
And that played a fatal role
in the disappearance of the mammoth.
The situation, of course
was worsened by the impact
of human hunters.
As their numbers dwindled
the extinction was further hastened
by the influence of the animal's psyche.
I even think they were depressed.
Many died off in great numbers
during their migration,
most of them by drowning.
During the Ice Age,
sea levels dropped and the tips
of Siberia
and Alaska were linked
by a land bridge.
Mammoths made their way
to North America across
what's now the Bering Strait.
As soon as they reached
the new continent
the Columbians migrated south
some as far as Florida and Mexico.
In these less extreme climates
they became the largest mammoths
that ever lived.
The most complete record of
their history lies
at the bottom of a sinkhole in
Hot Springs, South Dakota.
A geologist tapped for the next
Siberian expedition
Larry Agenbroad oversees this
excavation in progress
and speculates why most of his
finds are male.
A mammoth society was much like
an elephant society.
The males, when they become
mature sexually
they are expelled from the
family unit
and they don't have much luck
in the dating game
until they're about 35 years of age.
So there's roughly 22 to 25 years
of hormone flow
and nothing to do with it
and no guidance.
And they get into really dumb
a little bit like our own species.
Imagine yourself as a young
male mammoth
oh, maybe uh, 16 to 18 years old.
And it's just snowed
and you've got a choice.
You can take your tusks and sweep off
the snow for last year's dead grass
or, if you look down in this sinkhole
with a thermal pond
you're gonna have green vegetation
all around the edge of this pond.
I don't think it takes too much of
a stretch of imagination
to realize they're gonna go
for the greens.
If they did, this was a one-way trip.
They either starved to death after
eating everything
around the pond's edge
or they swam till they were
exhausted and drowned.
The most physically imposing
the Columbians stood twice
the height of a man
and were double the weight
of an elephant.
Unlike its woolly cousin,
the Columbian roamed exclusively
through North America
and met our early ancestors.
Basically, once they're grown
once they're mature,
there are no enemies for mammoths
except humans.
As young, they're subject to big
predators, big carnivores.
The big cats, the big bears,
would have been the only natural
enemies they had.
Proof of early man's encounters
with the mammoth
is evident in the art of cave
dwellers across Europe
and North America.
To build their huts and feed
their kin
men killed mammoths in vast numbers.
The mammoth shared the food-rich
with animals that survived
the Ice Age - musk oxen,
reindeer, horses and bison.
How could he vanish amidst
such abundance?
Some say it was man who did
the mammoth in.
Others say he perished from disease
climate-related food shortages
or natural catastrophe.
With so few footsteps to follow
we may never have the answer.
Searching for clues to the mammoth's
past is what drives Dick Mol
a key science advisor for the next
Jarkov mammoth team.
The North Sea is rich in
Ice Age fossils
including the woolly mammoth
and its ancestors,
and Dick has been studying them here
for some 32 years.
During a period of the Ice Age
water levels dropped
and stretches of what's now
the North Sea
were grassy meadowlands called
full of grazing animals that lived
died and fossilized here.
12,222 years ago, temperatures rose
melting the polar ice sheets and
inundating low-lying areas.
Mammoth country was shrinking.
Trawling the ocean floor
for flatfish
fishermen can net hundreds of fossils
every time they go out.
They're a good source of research
subjects for Dick Mol.
Oh wow, this is heavy.
It's broken
but still a nice specimen.
This part was hidden in the skull
and it's well
probably 62 to 72 centimeters is
missing from this tusk
but it's a nice specimen.
It looks to me it's the right tusk.
The fossils in Siberia should be
even more spectacular.
Summer arrives in Khatanga with
little fanfare.
With its shroud of snow cast aside
for a few brief weeks,
the city feels pale and gray
but for a few splashes of color.
Though the Siberian weather is brisk
the ground has thawed
allowing everyone a little
more mobility.
Traditionally, this is the season
when scientists come to
look for fossils
and mammoth carcasses in the tundra.
For Bernard and a few members of his
mammoth team
this will be a fact-finding mission
and an opportunity to check out
new leads.
Thousands of lakes dot the Taimyr
a garden of Eden for the woolly
mammoth back in the late Pleistocene
when the grasslands were lush
and diverse.
At the request of an important
this will be the first stop.
A guiding force in Bernard's search
is Russia's preeminent authority
on mammoths
Professor Nikolai Vereschagin.
Since the 1822's,
only 12 mammoth carcasses have ever
been found in Siberia
and Vereschagin recovered two
in one year.
Most of the discoveries to date were
initially made by hunters
fishermen or gold prospectors who
moved around the tundra.
The lure of the Taimyr to six-ton
grazers is still evident today
according to Vereschagin.
It's the grass.
Its main feature is its solid root
It's an extraordinarily hearty plant
that thrives in moist conditions.
It was the basis of the
mammoth's diet.
This grass "volunteered" here.
As the level of water in the
lake dropped
the grass took over and invaded
the areas
where the water had retreated.
Where could the mammoths come to find
large enough pastures to graze in?
These lakebeds provided plenty of
food to satisfy them.
The grasslands still feed thousands
of grazers each season
and no one knows the most bountiful
spots better than the Dolgan.
This is also the time of year
when the nomads find mammoth remains
melted out of the tundra
tusks and bones and sometimes flesh.
Now they're showing Bernard other
sites with artifacts.
To share this knowledge with
a foreigner
is unusual for the Dolgans.
But his work on the Jarkov mammoth
has forged a bond of trust.
Buried at a site close by are tusks
that belong to one of the men.
They're valuable for bartering
in Khatanga
and are stashed underground to
keep them from being stolen.
Look at this... it seems that
it's brand new, yeah.
Really nice.
Absolutely wonderful.
As the weeks pass, strangers become
and a family Bernard has known for
five years invites his group to
have a look at something truly
Over a matter of months
a Dolgan family has dug almost an
entire mammoth skeleton
out of the tundra,
a rare and important find.
Enormous vertebrae in good condition
fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
Edvokim tells Bernard the story of
how he discovered the bones.
Like almost all such finds
it was accidental.
Everyone pitches in to look for
the rest of the skeleton.
Though summer temperatures are more
comfortable for digging,
they're a disaster for the
preservation of frozen carcasses.
That's why Bernard must wait till
fall to extract the Jarkov mammoth.
When I came to the site,
I saw that maybe more than 82 percent
of the skeleton was already dig out.
It was so exciting to find more
and to be as close as possible as
122 percent of the skeleton.
Each time I find remains of mammoth
I take the position, I take the bones
I take sample after this
to make analyze, to make datation...
And it will be after collecting
all this information
and crossing all these datas
that we will be able to understand
what happened 22,222 years ago
with the mammoth and why they
I share with the Dolgan the same
love of the tundra
and we share the love of
very basic things.
They spend so much time trying
to survive.
And they are moving all,
two or three days from one place
to another place
and it's a hard process to move.
It's not easy.
They have no engines
they have no wheels.
They know that in this place
there is not enough grass
for the reindeer.
And they know that at that time
it's not a good place to fish
so they are moving near another lake.
There is hundred thousand and
hundred thousand lake in Taimyr,
so why this lake and not another one?
They are surviving only because
they know perfectly the tundra.
They are very far from everything.
They have no sugar
they have no coffee...
The only thing they can find
in tundra is fish and reindeer.
They will not change their life.
They don't want to go in the city.
They don't want to be a part of
the civilization
and they have make the choice to
live in the tundra.
They like to be in this special
between the ground and the sky.
There is nothing.
They are the only human living in
this incredible country.
The collaboration of nomads and
explorers is science's gain.
These precious mammoth remains
will be flown to Khatanga for
and further studies of the animal's
little-known domain.
They'll meet again in September
when the second Jarkov mammoth
expedition gets underway.
In Khatanga, the first snows of
autumn herald the new season
and with it, the return to
unfinished business on the Taimyr.
Final preparations are underway
for the second Jarkov mammoth
And the mammoth experts from
the Netherlands
and the United States have
just arrived.
Before the team hits the road,
"Dick Mol and Larry Agenbroad
are eager to have a look at
Bernard's summer finds.
For two dyed-in-the-wool
mammoth fans
this collection of woolly mammoth
artifacts is a treasure trove.
...but, a full-grown one,
...you can see it from the
jaw of the...
which is fused with the...
This is beautiful quality.
This time, an advance team has
been sent on
with some of the heavier gear.
The goal is to prep the site so
that the mammoth lift will get
underway before bad weather sets in.
And they're off.
The tracks in this great Arctic
desert lead down a lost road.
The entire northern hemisphere was
once a playground
for the woolly mammoth,
an animal that had adapted to the
most extreme climates on the planet.
Why animals so well buffered against
extinction disappeared
is a question that baffles the
The Jarkov mammoth will provide
the clues they're looking for.
It's mid- September when the
helicopter sets down at the dig site
loaded with a few tons of cargo
and the expectations of two dozen men.
The scientists waste little time
getting to know their subject.
Two meters and 98 centimeters.
It's the first time they've seen
the Jarkov tusks
and their curiosity's gotten
the better of them.
And we need the circumference.
The American and Dutchman are joined
by Russian zoologist Alexei Tikonov,
who studied with Professor
And we need to write down the weight
the right tusk...
A tusk can reveal the sex
and state of health of the animal
according to Larry Agenbroad
and even the season it died.
The tusk is kind of the unwritten
diary for mammoths.
These are exceptional tusks.
They're better than any I've seen
except in living animals.
They're the highest quality fossil
ivory I've ever seen.
The Russian crew has made progress
in the weeks before Bernard arrives.
A block the size of a woolly mammoth
begins to emerge from the tundra.
Breaking through ice and permafrost
takes muscle
and - even in such extreme cold the
men quickly work up a dangerous sweat.
To prevent hypothermia, they dig in
shifts one hour of labor, one of rest.
As their link to the outside world
vanishes into the night
the men set about the business of
becoming a team again.
An expedition cook prepares the
meals this time around
but it's hardly gourmet fare in
a land of starch and reindeer steaks.
It's the first gathering of this
Franco Russian expedition
and somewhat subdued at least until
the men figure out
how to communicate in a strange mix
of Russian, French
English and Dutch.
Without heavy equipment only manpower
Bernard thinks he can raise
the mammoth in about a month.
But for some of the team memories
of the battle
they lost to the Jarkov mammoth
still haunt them.
Several days pass,
and the quarry of permafrost
and ice is growing around the
perimeter of the hole.
But it's slow going, even with
everyone pitching in.
There's an unforeseen glitch:
Their generator isn't strong enough
to power tools.
But it's not the only problem.
The block's size is an issue.
They must reduce it without damaging
the animal inside
and soon Bernard will have to
calculate the block's weight
to know if he can lift it.
But if his luck doesn't change
he risks losing the mammoth
to the winter again.
But the winds have shifted.
Somehow, somewhere in
a Khatanga junkyard
Anatoly has managed to rustle up
a new generator bigger
and more powerful than the last.
And just in the nick of time.
It doesn't take long for the men
to switch it on
move the equipment into place
and make all the connections.
The compressor will be used to
power the tools
that should make the work
go a lot faster.
But there's no fire behind this spark.
There's only one thing to do.
Call the expedition "hotline"
in Khatanga.
Fortunately, the doctor is in.
While Nikolai, one of the
Russian workers takes note
Anatoly reveals
the secrets of working
with his latest electronic antique.
It turns out that it's nothing
A little sleight of hand with
a couple of connecting wires
and the team may be in business.
The din of jackhammers is deafening.
But the permafrost is stubborn,
giving way grudgingly to the forces
of iron and steel.
Finally, the men begin to make up
for lost time.
The trench around the mammoth
is getting deeper
and any day now, the animal
may burst out.
The sound of jackhammers is the
signal for the expedition leader
and the scientist to brace themselves
against the cold
and head for the mammoth site.
From here on in, the men will work
under the constant supervision of
Dick and Bernard.
They've become guardians of the
animal taking shape under their eyes.
Their vigilance is rewarded
when the first wiry hairs poke from
the side of the block.
Dick can barely contain his
at the signs of life making
their way to the surface
after thousands of years underground.
...You go through the damages
made by the jackhammer
you'll see that this was never
so this must be the original
clay layer
in which the mammoth was buried.
There are few clues to the world
of the Jarkov mammoth.
What is known comes from radio
carbon dating
and analysis of the tusks,
teeth and pollen samples around
the hair salvaged
from the first expedition.
The evidence shows that
it's a 47-year-old male
that died some 22,222 years ago.
After the animal is unearthed
new tests will be performed on
its tissue and bones.
Oh, this is beautiful.
22,382 years ago
this animal died and now
I am riding on its back.
Everywhere hairs, everywhere
hundreds, thousands...
It's beautiful.
Now so close to the flesh
Bernard urges caution.
The men must continue to reduce
the block's weight
without exposing the animal.
Once flown off the tundra,
the mammoth will be preserved in
its frozen state
for scientists to study in a less
hostile environment.
Hair is visible on all three sides
of the block
signaling that the last phase is near.
Burrowing under a block the weight
of four woolly mammoths won't be easy.
But even if can be done
lifting it may be problematic
and Bernard is concerned.
The huge helicopter's coming to...
Yeah, yeah.
Is he going to make the cables
so the helicopter...
Yes, it's, I have a lot of
small problem
because I have always the Russian
told me
"yes we have, yes it's okay, yes.
But many time it works,
but many time it not works
the first time, you know?
Now the problem we have because
this big helicopter will lift it
cannot take more than 26 tons.
Yeah, 26?
This is the size of a block we have
26, 32 tons now
but it's the first time we do this.
It's week three on the Taimyr.
A helicopter bearing supplies
and a few curious onlookers flies
low over the campsite.
After days of nothing
but the sound of jackhammers
and Arctic wind
the men on the ground are equally
mesmerized by the chopper.
The pilot's ritual is always
the same.
He can't resist buzzing the site
to see how the block is shaping up.
They've gotten so close now
that the scent of ancient animal
is in the air.
I will smell it to see if it smells.
Uh, it is cold but I can tell you
it smells.
Right now my nose is so cold
I don't think I could smell.
This is exceptional for me
because for the first time
I can touch the hair of the animal
that I've been pursuing that's still
in place in the ground.
And when I see it here and there
and over there
well then I'm very impressed.
Very impressed.
I've got bones, I've got teeth
I've got tusks
and in one case we even found
the dung of mammoths.
But I've never been where
I can pet the hair
that's still attached to the animal.
It's an emotional experience
that probably you don't have
as deeply
unless you've been hunting mammoths
for over 32 years like I have.
Ideally, if everything worked
they wouldn't clone this animal
and then I can actually pet the
living animal.
But right now, to pet the hair of
this mammoth
is kind of the height of
mammoth hunting.
To gather fleece and hair of
an extinct woolly mammoth
is a unique thrill
but especially for foreigners banned
from Siberia for decades.
Don't hit the animal.
The men refrain from taking soft
tissue for now.
Later, the mammoth will move to
the ice caves in Khatanga.
And scientists will take
uncontaminated samples of flesh
and the flora and fauna around
the animal in a controlled setting.
A piece of 22,222 year old wool.
A living mammoth's yellow-brown
undercoat could be an inch thick
and lay just below the animal's
long bristly mane.
Yes, but it's simple...
we can use this large instrument.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
You become addict.
You have this and you want this.
Months from now,
when DNA samples are taken
from this animal
more valuable information will
surface about a little-known species
and thoughts of its revival will
haunt many a dream.
The end of week three sees progress
but not enough.
Trying to make up for lost time,
Bernard does the unreasonable:
Calls for volunteers for a night dig.
You need much more time in tundra
to do something.
Always before to go to sleep
I prefer to solve the main question
of the day.
I know that if tomorrow I start
this process, I lost one day.
So I take my courage in my hand
and I try to speak with my team and
try to get one or two people
as a volunteer because
I cannot do by myself.
So I start to speak about this
and I was so surprised.
I know that Boris will join me
of course
but I was so surprised that
all the team was like one man.
And for me, it gives so much
more energy
that we do much more than
I expected that time.
The Siberian night is unforgiving.
Temperatures have plummeted
to well below zero
by the time the men pick up
their tools.
But now the end is in sight.
The men know the block they've
chiseled out of rock-solid permafrost
is large enough to contain the
entire mammoth carcass.
Now they've just got to get
Shattering the ice that seals
one side of the block to the earth
is laborious work
but separating the block from
the permafrost side requires
both strength and real motivation.
What was very exciting at that time
is we were so close to the end
that everybody find more energy.
And after four hours working
in the night
I have to stop these people working
because I know that if we have
not enough rest
tomorrow we'll have some problem.
Do you know what it is tissane
Herb tea and coffee.
Simplicity rules at the mammoth camp
work, sleep and all they can eat.
The fare is basic
fish when they're lucky,
and reindeer for breakfast
lunch and dinner.
Covered by a fresh deerskin,
a hole in the ice provides drinking
water from the Khatanga River.
As the tunneling continues,
a relic from the past emerges
in the rubble
aquatic plants from the Ice Age.
Look at this one, it's still green.
Ah, yes.
Tipped off by a foul smell under
the block
the men call Dick and Bernard
to check it out.
At one time, Dick thinks this might
have been a pond or a small lake.
...and it smells something
organic, yeah?
When you think that it's minimum
22,222 years old
make things more exciting.
What we know for sure is
that it's below the carcass
of the mammoth.
So it must be...
...the same age or older.
So at least 22,382 years.
It's possible that the ancient plants
are in such good condition
because they were lodged under
the mammoth
and couldn't rise and decay
in the pond's surface.
It's organic material, look how big
the plant remains are.
And the color even on this one.
This is beautiful, you can see
uh, the cut
on the cut, that there's a hole
inside so.
It's still green.
These plant remains provided a lot of
new information
on the time the mammoth
was living on the mammoth steppe
because I'm convinced of this
that those plant remains are
aquatic plants.
Now we have plant remains from
a pond or a small lake,
which provide new information on
vegetation in the water
during the time of the mammoth.
To fuel its massive body,
an adult woolly mammoth could
spend up to 22 hours a day
foraging for grass and sedges.
But temptation often turned to
tragedy when a pond
so warm and rich with plants
would trap a mammoth in its muddy bed
...and finally, preserve him in
a frozen grave.
It's now some four weeks into the
mammoth expedition.
The Dolgans - Guenady Jarkov
and his family head toward
the dig site.
The Dolgan has promised Bernard
hat he'll return to the camp
when the mammoth is ready to fly.
Time on this vast white plain isn't
measured by the hands of a clock
but in the first snows of autumn
the thawing of the river
and the gathering of the
reindeer herds.
The Dolgans make camp alongside
the expedition site.
They'll stay as long as the
grazing's good.
For now, they'll prepare for autumn
with rituals observed
by Dolgans across the Taimyr.
Packing snow against their
homes seals out the cold.
In a land where wood is more
valuable than ivory
life is Spartan, and surviving
the bitter Siberian winter
is a matter of planning
skill and luck.
Stroganina, frozen fish eaten
with salt
is a staple of Russian diet
and fare for guests.
That Bernard has sought the guidance
of the Jarkov family
in his unprecedented effort to raise
the mammoth
has forged a bond between the
Frenchman and the nomads.
Guenady shares his craft
with Bernard
a harness collar he's worked
out of mammoth ivory.
It's valuable, and will last.
These are things we make according
to our traditional customs.
Mammoth bones and tusks are very old
and they can be passed from one
generation to another.
The tusks that are not smooth break
into pieces after 12 or 15.
But if they're in good condition
they can last for a very long time.
I inherited these from my mother.
They were made 42 years ago,
and they look as if they were
still new.
The ivory from an Ice Age mammoth is
what brought the Dolgan and
the explorer together.
Now it binds them in a journey
back through time.
Shouldering the huge tusks of
the mammoth they found,
the Dolgans move toward the dig site.
Today these tusks will be reunited
with their owner.
With the Jarkovs present,
they'll be reattached to the block
to empower the mammoth
on his flight into the future.
For me, this Jarkov mammoth
is a symbol
and the symbol works with the tusks.
It was a kind of respect for me
to show him in his best light.
Gone from the earth for
12,222 years now
the mammoth lives on in the eye
of the hunter.
Pursued for sustenance, revered
and etched in ancient stone...
the giant of the Ice Age helped
our ancestors to survive.
Week four - the site is hit with
the first major storm of the season.
It's hard to hear above the roar
of the winds
and the snow has begun to swirl
in drifts
around the tents at an alarming rate.
But there's no turning back now.
Refusing to fold to the
Arctic's icy hand
Bernard and his team push on.
It's the coldest day yet
on the tundra
but they're too close to their goal
to give up.
Led by Bernard, and anchored by Boris
the men make their way under
the block, inches at a time.
An unlikely group of mammoth hunters
each of the men is now linked
in his own way
to the creature from another age.
Shouting encouragement over
the cacophony of wind
and power tools, they punch their way
through the permafrost.
A month ago, none would have
that they would press on
in conditions so extreme.
Not even Boris.
It's terrible when you have something
that became concrete
and you want to work more,
and suddenly nature is much more
strong than you.
And this wind start to blow stronger
and stronger and everything was
going in all direction.
It became crazy and very noisy.
Long into the night
the tempest rages on.
But the men have won this round
in the battle against the elements.
Or have they?
It takes a half-day to shovel out
snowdrifts two meters deep.
I became a little bit crazy with
this storm because I decide that
of course, is more strong than me
but I will not give up.
Even if he bring each night
cubic meter
and cubic meter of snow to throw out.
We will not stop all this process.
It was a kind of pleasure to
show to the wind
that we were more determined.
Of course, all of this take
a lot of time
but the time was on my side
because I understand that
all my team
when they saw that I had so much
energy to put in this
will follow me until we make the
complete excavation of the
of the mammoth.
It's time to begin the assembly of
a steel frame
that can hold the massive block,
but it's stop and go with tools that
rebel against the cold.
Once they're sized, the plan is to
run three bars
under the mammoth carcass
and weld them to cross beams.
They'll dig under the block
insert the beams
and chip out the ledge it rests on
once it's ready to fly.
The tunnel under the block has been
coming along slowly
but at last, and just about right
on schedule
Boris powers his way through.
For the first time in 12,222 years
the mammoth will rise free of
its tomb.
But whether it's light enough to be
lifted is another matter.
After all of their efforts
the men are curious.
Expedition coordinator
Christian DeMarliave
conducts an experiment
balancing melted permafrost and water
to calculate the density of the block.
Factoring density and volume should
tell them how much the block weighs.
Boris have some secret question.
He's afraid a little bit that
the block can move or...
This could be a major problem.
Explain to him that this piece of
iron will not support the block.
There will be three other piece
who the support will be transversal.
Until we, we, we have not installed
the three other pieces
or two other pieces, we don't take
out ground from this place.
We will take ground
the ground on this place
after we have put this three...
We can work, I think,
without any problem of security
on the both sides of the block.
After we put the other one
two piece of wood
to be sure and only
only one hour before the take-off
of the block
by the helicopter, we will cut...
Bernard and the Russians are heading
toward an impasse.
Ah we cannot move it.
No, we need to decide that.
The next morning the chopper from
Khatanga arrives with new supplies
and a welcome face.
Vladimir, the interpreter,
is back in time to help iron
things out.
They work out a plan to secure
the unstable block
so that the men can move more
safely around it.
But it will mean going a little bit
more slowly.
Everybody's comfortable
with this solution.
So I can go to sleep again.
Boris made a good job last night.
All people are agree with him, now.
They are against me and agree
with him.
Boris at that time explained me also
one very important thing.
During 22 years he lives in tundra
and if he is still alive
it's because the most important thing
is to take care about human life.
So, in each step of his life
he can do crazy things
but he is always thinking about
He likes the life
he respects the life.
The men are in the final stages of
their construction marathon.
Once the beams are welded together
the mammoth frame
and the animal on top
will be ready for lift-off.
That is, if it's possible to raise
a block this size with a helicopter.
It's never been done before.
Khatanga airport.
As Bernard feared
the place is as silent as
a ghost town due to weather
and a kerosene shortage.
It's bad timing.
The M l-26 is the largest civilian
helicopter in the world
and is scheduled to lift the mammoth
if there's fuel to be had.
Bernard has raced to Khatanga for
a meeting
with the civil aviation director.
Now I don't know, possible fly
Not possible?
May be problem, may be no problem?
If you decide...
The problem, he explains, is the ice.
Cargo ships can't get through
to Khatanga.
So there are shortages of fuel for
heating, electricity and airplanes.
That is, until the icebreaker
gets here.
...what do you want, what you want.
Having muscled through 5 meters
of permafrost
it would be tragic to be defeated
by 26 centimeters of ice.
Back at camp, Christian DeMarliave
and Dick Mol organize the
scientific work
ahead once the mammoth reaches
The flesh and organs may reveal much
about the animal's health and diet.
And evidence of pollen and
insect life
will add to our knowledge
of their Ice Age habitat.
Now that the work is done
Dick Mol has time to reflect on
what it's like to meet
a woolly mammoth.
This was a wonderful experience
for me.
We were working on top of the block
with the hair dryer
with your hands between the hairs
because you have to destroy
the sand pieces and so on
and it feels warm, it feels hot.
It was like sitting on a living
mammoth from 22,222 years ago.
And the smell of the animal, too.
You have the smell of urine, of dung
of the animals.
And this is how the mammoth
the Jarkov mammoth smells like.
This was beautiful.
This was the biggest event for me
in my life.
Hidden in the flesh,
the wool and perhaps the DNA of the
Jarkov mammoth
may be the secrets of how the animal
lived and why his species died.
In Khatanga, the arrival of the
icebreaker was a major event.
Because in its wake are the ships
that supply the city.
It's the news Bernard and Anatoly
have been waiting for.
The kerosene has arrived, at last.
The plan is to head for the dock and
see what they can arrange.
When the ship arrives
the men are ready to negotiate
their deal.
Operating at three tons of fuel
per hour
the M l-26 that will fly the mammoth
could burn up to seven tons
of kerosene.
Time is running out.
It's up to Anatoly to make it work.
The only thing left to do now is
to phone the camp with good news.
The kerosene is here
Bernard is on his way back
the mammoth will fly.
With the M l-26 already en route
there's no time to lose.
The long weeks of working
and waiting
and dreaming on the tundra are about
to come to a close
in a frenzy of activity.
It was unbelievable for me because
after waiting for weeks and weeks
for the news of kerosene
the Russian give me only two hours
to prepare the lift.
Everything at that time has to be
done in a hurry.
I look at the sun.
It was four o'clock in the afternoon
and I knew that I have one small hour
in front of me of daylight.
And I think, "okay, it's a sign
from the sky."
We have so nice weather
we have kerosene.
The big helicopter is here.
The Russian are ready to do this now.
Let's go now and we will see
what happen.
As the M l-26 hovers over
the mammoth site
the wash from its 42-foot blades
knocks men to the ground.
But they manage to attach the cables.
After some minutes I become
a little bit crazy.
I start to speak to, to the mammoth
and tell to him
"Let do this, everything's ready
there is no risk
they want to take you, you
you you can go."
I was speaking to him.
There's been a glitch
in communication.
The payload is three tons overweight
and the chopper is straining.
It's dangerous.
For a few terrifying minutes
nothing happens...
Until suddenly there's lift-off.
After some couple of minutes
the block start to appear
and those tusks start to appear
from the, from the ground
and I say "Ah, it's unbelievable.
These people are able to do this."
At first unwilling to budge
the mammoth surrenders
sliding clumsily out of the hole
and narrowly escaping a crash
with the generator.
For what seems an eternity,
the pilot attempts to trick the
forces of gravity.
Finally, he succeeds.
It was completely magic because after
all of this during 12, 15 minutes
I was ready to stop the process.
I was ready to, to not take
anymore risk
because the life of people
was engaged.
And, uh, after all this process
everything was okay.
The helicopter was there.
The mammoth was there with
his two tusks
and the sun was just setting
at that time
and it was the perfect timing
and I think we are
we have, we have the help of
the sky today.
How would it feel to be a traveler
suspended in space and time
between being and nothingness?
To look down on the Arctic with eyes
frozen shut for 12,222 years.
At the dawn of the new millennium,
this refugee from the Ice Age will
take the ride of his life.
As night falls on Khatanga,
the Jarkov mammoth and his hunter
come to the end of their journey.
It's a soft landing that resounds
across the globe.
This is the final chapter
in the story
of the search for the Jarkov mammoth.
It's a story that ends as it began
enshrouded in ice.
But it's by no means the end of
the adventure.
Perhaps the woolly mammoth
will rise again.
At this time, the revival of
an extinct species is still a dream.
But some think it can be done
by cloning.
It takes only one cell but requires
a complete strand of DNA.
And this will be hard to come by.
But if the chain of code is unbroken
some say it might be possible
to fertilize an egg.
But is it likely that a woolly
mammoth could be resurrected
from fragments of DNA
22,222 years old?
Some of the world's top mammoth
experts disagree.
At the moment,
what we know about the preservation
of DNA in the permafrost is
that it's not good enough for that.
It is difficult but we have a chance
to study to make clone.
I think it's just a dream,
I think people who speak
about this have very closely watched
Jurassic Park."
If they can get DNA
there's no problem with cloning.
I think we shouldn't try it anyway.
Mammoth disappeared because of man
so if man could revive
it would be only justice.
There's surely someplace on
this planet
that's close enough to what
they lived in when they were alive
that they can be happy there.
If links from the past can be bound
to dreams of the future
the day of the mammoth may come again.