Saturday, March 25, 2017
THE MOAB MASTODON? A FISH-EATING BEAR REVISITED:
Moab Mastodon, Photograph
by Dell Crandall.
On November 25, 2009, I wrote a column in RockArtBlog titled Elephantids In North American Rock Art - The Moab Mastodon, in which I expressed the opinion that this famous image, usually identified as the Moab Mastodon, is actually a bear eating a large fish.
Bear eating a salmon, National
Geographic, Vol. 209(2),
February 2006, photograph
In support of this suggestion I compared it to a photograph taken by Steve Winter for National Geographic Magazine of an Alaskan brown bear eating a salmon in virtually the same pose.
Bear eating a salmon,
carved antler, Lourdes,
France, redrawn from
Another related example of the theme of a bear eating a fish found in Lourdes, France, was illustrated on page 218 in Dale Guthrie's excellent book The Nature of Paleolithic Art. A Paleolithic antler carving from Lourdes, France, shows a bear with a salmon in his mouth (Guthrie, p. 218).
Is this proof of anything, no it is not. It is circumstantial evidence only. While not bearing (really, a pun here?) directly on the question of the identification of the so-called Moab Mastodon, this carving at least helps establish that the theme of a bear eating a fish is one that had been illustrated by a primitive artist before, providing perspective on this claim for the identity of the Moab image.
2009 Elephantids In North American Rock Art, Nov. 25, 2009, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com.
Guthrie, R. Dale
2005 The Nature of Paleolithic Art, page 208, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
2006 National Geographic, Vol. 209, No. 2