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Prehistory is full of creatures that could pass for fantastic; mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, dinosaurs and millions of others are strange and unusual enough to be very serviceable fantastic beasts alongside griffins, dragons and the like, while still similar enough to modern fauna not to feel too out of place in Earth-like worlds. The problem is, you might think of prehistoric human society as boring. The solution? Medieval Prehistory.

Medieval prehistory involves vaguely prehistoric plant and animal life, or climate and environmental conditions, with knights, castles, and princesses coexisting. Doesn't necessarily have to be set in Medieval Europe or a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to it, but it does have to involve a pre-industrial society. So Ancient Grome and Ancient Africa or even Mayincatec etc. are permitted. Stone Punk, which usually involves a more modern-type society, is an entirely different trope.


Depending on the setting, this can potentially be anything from a fantasy world explicitly set in the Earth's real or fictional prehistory, with the prehistoric elements taking front and center, to a more conventional fantasy world with a few species of dinosaur and Ice Age megafauna added in among the usual fantasy creatures.

Subtrope of Anachronism Stew (although usually technically does not fit under that heading, due to being set in fictional universes with their own histories and timelines) and often Alternate History or Historical Fantasy, usually based on the premise that the asteroid did not wipe out the dinosaurs or that somehow other wildlife managed to survive up until the medieval era or something involving Time Travel. Don't expect the wildlife to live in the areas they did in reality.


Related to Dinosaurs Are Dragons and often overlaps with Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Not to be confused with 1 Million B.C., which involves stereotypical stone-age 'cavemen' living alongside creatures such as dinosaurs, or Prehistoria, its video game equivalent. Can contain elements of The Dark Times and The Time of Myths, or Ambiguous Time Period, and Domesticated Dinosaurs.

See also Living Dinosaurs, for when dinosaurs survive all the way up to modern times.


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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Dominaria, the setting's original central world and a fairly traditional fantasy setting in most respects, is home to creatures such as woolly mammoths and allosauruses. These were especially common during a large in-setting ice age, but at least the allosaurs are still around.
    • Ixalan is a continent where the Mayincatec locals coexist with dinosaurs, although the setting isn't technically "medieval" (Ixalan's plane is more of a "conquest of the New World" period, although it's not entirely clear who's conquering who).

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animated 
  • Early Man pitches a Stone Age tribe against a Bronze Age society that has tamed mammoths and muskoxen among other things.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • The Atlan series places medieval European-style villages adjacent to prehistoric jungles crawling with dinosaurs.
  • Codex Alera: A few prehistoric creatures and the descendants thereof appear among the fauna that populates Carna, which is something of a dimensional sinkhole where people and creatures from many different worlds have become stranded over time.
    • The wild creatures the Marat bind themselves to include gargants, which are implied to be giant ground sloths of some kind, and herdbanes, which are terror birds.
    • Leviathans are revealed to be gigantic descendants of Earth's plesiosaurs, which have evolved to become the dominant predators in the world's oceans.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian series is set in a prehistoric medieval-like society. The Hyborian Age it takes place in is supposed to be Earth's distant past, when the continents still had different shapes.
  • Howard's friend Clark Ashton Smith had his own tales of The Time of Myths set on the continent of "Hyperborea", which now lies under the ice of Greenland. Dinosaurs, prehistoric animals, and outright monsters all share the setting with a reasonably-complex, castle-building human society.
  • The Dance Of The Tiger, by Finnish paleontologist Björn Kurtén, inverts the trope by bringing elements from Medieval folklore to the Paleolithic, instead of Paleolithic animals to Medieval times. The handwave is, naturally, that this folklore originated from distant memories of the Paleolithic. In the story, set in Sweden as the ice recedes, the Sapiens call Neanderthals "trolls", and the villains are a couple of hybrid brother warlords known as the "troll children" or "troll little devils". There is also a "troll" woman who managed to tame reindeer, but she is an oddball loner and the implication is that this knowledge will die with her, leaving Sapiens to rediscover it thousands of years later. Finally, the book takes the word schelch from the Nibelungenlied and uses it as the characters name for Megaloceros. This is based on Kurtén's own speculation that the "schelch" in the poem was an actual reference to this animal.
  • The Dinosaur Lords: This trope is the main premise of the work: several species of dinosaurs are used as mounts and beasts of burden in a Medieval world, or just appear as wild animals.
  • The 13th Warrior: The High Concept of the story is that Beowulf was actually a fantasy retelling of a conflict between Vikings and relict Neanderthals (called "Wendol") in Medieval Denmark. The limits of Wendol territory are marked by massive bear skulls, implying the late survival of cave bears in the area as well.
  • The Elenium: A few times, the villains use time portals to make enemies from the prehistoric past attack the protagonists. These include a Tyrannosaurus rex and a horde of "dawn men" (the common ancestor of humans and trolls in this 'verse).
  • The Garrett, P.I. novels, gumshoe-style mysteries set in a fantasy-world city, count both dinosaurs (thunder lizards) and assorted Pleistocene mammals among their Verse's typical fauna.
  • Harry Turtledove's extensive work in Alternate History includes several pieces where the premise, or one effect of the POD, is the survival of one or several prehistoric species into historical times:
    • A Different Flesh takes places in a world where the Americas were colonized by more technologically impaired Homo erectus rather than Homo sapiens. Besides the H. erectus themselves, several species of megafauna including "hairy elephants" (mammoths), "spearfang cats" (sabertoothed cats), ground sloths and glyptodonts all survived to meet European colonists. The British even import Indian mahouts in the 18th century to tame the "hairy elephants" and use them as beasts of burden. The series was inspired by an essay of Stephen J. Gould, wondering what John Smith would have thought if he met Australopithecus in the Americas instead of modern humans.
    • In The Green Buffalo, a gang of 1891 Wyoming hunters (hired by a dinosaur paleontologist, no less) unwittingly wander into the Mesozoic through a ripple in time, then bag a Torosaurus that followed them back into the 19th century. They remain oblivious the whole time and take the dinosaur for a diseased buffalo, hence the title.
    • In Down in the Bottomlands, the Zanclean Flood 5 million years ago never happened; as a result, the Mediterranean Sea doesn't exist and there is an extensive desert miles under sea level in its place, the titular Bottomlands. Despite this distant point of departure, both modern humans and Neanderthals still evolved, but Neanderthals survived and developed their own technologically advanced states in Europe while humans remained in Africa and southern Asia.
    • The Maltese Elephant is a pastiche of The Maltese Falcon, except the mcguffin is a living, breathing Maltese dwarf elephant instead of a stone falcon. The elephants are said to have played a decisive role in the Great Siege of 1565.
    • The Atlantis series has the premise that the eastern coast of North America broke off and drifted to the middle Atlantic during the Mesozoic, and as a result remained uninhabited by humans (or any other mammal) until Europeans discovered it in the 15th century. While the local flightless birds are fictional, they draw obvious inspiration from New Zealand's moas and Hawaii's moa-nalos. The largest species are driven to extinction in the 19th century.
    • Running of the Bulls is another pastiche, this time of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Except the bulls are Triceratops. And the final twist is that the "human" characters are evolved dinosaurs and not actually human.
    • An example without alternate history involved is Household Gods, where a modern Austrian woman is transported to Roman times and has the chance to witness a circus game where an aurochs is made to fight against a wolf pack. She sees the fact that the animal is extinct in her own time as an additional horror.
    • Another fantasy example is Birdwitching, which depicts a duel of witches magically summoning increasingly difficult birds. The rarer the bird, the bigger toll it takes on the summoner, and extinct birds are the toughest of all. In the end, a witch passes out from summoning an Archaeopteryx, and is acclaimed as the undisputed winner.
  • The Lord of the Rings uses this from time to time. Justified as, according to Word of God, the series is set in the Time of Myths in the distant past of the Earth.
    • The Drúedain west of Gondor differ greatly from the normal humans, and even from the nonhuman races, and it has been suggested that they are actually Neanderthals.
    • Though not explicitly so, creatures like the Mûmakil and Wargs could be seen as exaggerations of mammoths and dire wolves respectively, while the nazgûl's flying mount may be some kind of pterosaur.
  • Similarly Lyonesse and its sequel Green Pearl take place in a pre-Migration Period world with fantasy elements and a vaguely medieval culture.
  • North Of The Dragonlands by Stephen Dedman is a medieval fantasy in which the fantastic elements are unfamiliar non-magical things that the characters are trying to understand in terms of familiar concepts; the "dragons" are dinosaurs and pterosaurs that have somehow survived from prehistoric times.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Aurochs, a prehistoric breed of cattle, are used for labor in Calvaria.note 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The series has mammoths and direwolves among the beasts living in the Grim Up North, aurochs in the main setting of Westeros, and dwarf elephants in Essos in the east.
    • A number of more elusive creatures have also been theorised to be based on prehistoric creatures — for instance, it's been hypothesized that the "unicorns" of Skagos are really the extinct one-horned rhino Elasmotherium, or that the "giants" are really an extinct species of ape, the Gigantopithecus.
    • The "terrible walking lizards" mentioned by Syrio Forel, that kill their prey with hooked claws on their hind legs and are brought from Sothoryos to Braavosi menageries, sound a lot like dromeosaurid dinosaurs. In the same dialogue, Forel claims to have seen other exotic animals, from more mundane (but still exotic to his audience) zebras and giraffes, to tigers that carry their young in pouches, and "mouse-pigs as big as cows".
    • The mysterious Coldhands, who lives (or un-lives) in the Grim Up North, is said to ride a "great elk". Most illustrators depict it as either an American or European elk, but some have chosen to paint it as a Megaloceros.
    • The "giant elk" antlers over Mance Rayder's tent are likely Megaloceros, with Jon even commenting they belong to a extinct species (but recent enough to be identified by people from a glance). Giant stags are also said to have lived in the past in the Riverlands.
    • The Ibbenese are heavily implied to be Neanderthals, albeit ones that eventually developed a civilization, took to the sea and excelled at whaling, of all things. Interestingly, despite everyone noting their physical differences, nobody ever regards them as non-human.
    • The Westerlands had its own species of lion, which only went extinct in recent memory. Given the generally temperate, European climate, they may be actually cave lions, or analogues of European lions at least rather than African.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Game of Thrones: Mammoths and direwolves prowl beyond the Wall. Giants are also more Neanderthal-like in this version than the books' Bigfoot-like creatures, although they are still 4 meters tall.
  • Primeval suggests that many mythical creatures were actually inspired by dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals ending up in historical times through time anomalies. It's specifically invoked with the Pristichampsus in the first episode of Season 3, which is suggested as being the true identity of Ammit from Egyptian mythology, and at the end the team all throw out suggestions for other legendary creatures that could have come from anomalies. A more literal example happens later in the same season, when a Dracorex dinosaur wanders into Medieval England, is taken for a dragon, and later travels to modern-day London with a Knight In Shining Armour intending to kill it in tow.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible, being quite the old book, has several references to Iron Age people living side by side with animals that a reader would have trouble imagining in modern day Israel: oryx, addax, hartebeest, onager, lion, leopard, bear. Some, like the lion, survived there until the literal Middle Ages. Others even later. And then there are the weird cases:
    • The re'em is a creature said to be untameable to anyone but God; it later morphed in Jewish folklore into a gigantic, mountain-sized animal with horns. It was translated as "unicorn" in the King James's Version, though some believe that the translator had a rhinoceros in mind when he used that word. Modern consensus is that the re'em is an aurochs, due to its etymological affinity with the Akkadian word rimu.
    • The behemoth is an even more massive vegetarian animal, mentioned by God to Job as an example of his power. People have speculated that it is a crocodile (despite the vegetarian part), buffalo, rhinoceros, hippopotamus or elephant. Much of the debate resides on wether the behemoth's tail, which it "moves like a cedar", is an actual tail or its penis. To some creationists, the behemoth is a sauropod dinosaur.
    • The leviathan is mentioned as a large serpentine sea creature that can even breathe fire and has seven heads according to some verses. It is also mentioned with scales strong enough to not be penetrated by Bronze and Iron Age spears, and that Bronze and Iron is like straw and rotten wood to them. Some think that it is a saltwater crocodile, with those weird verses referring it to the devil, but no one really knows what the animal was supposed to it. Others think it was a Mosasaur or another presumed extinct sea creature that managed to survive until historic times.
  • Christian creationists have a variable relationship with this trope. Some believe that prehistoric animals were not saved for some reason and died in the Flood (and thus lived to see civilization), others that they survived and the medieval stories of dragons and such are accounts of dinosaurs who died due to human pressure in the postdiluvian world. Some others reject the concept of extinction altogether (because God would never make an animal and kill it or let it die) and claim that they are still alive somewhere. And further others believe that extinct animals never existed to begin with and the evidence is faked by Satanic scientists, but they are not examples of this trope.
  • The Book of Mormon mentions war horses and elephants in pre-Columbian North America. Believers claim that these are either late surviving American horses and mastodons that were tamed by people, or other American animals, like tapirs (which also went extinct in North America in prehistoric times, and now live in South America and Central America up to the Yucatan).
  • Medieval folklore has the Woodwose or "Wild Man" i.e. an abstraction of what a man untouched by civilization would be. The Woodwose is bearded and naked, but has a hairy body like an animal, and lives in the deep woods. He has no tools except a big wooden club, which is probably why cavemen are often depicted with them in media, despite no archaeological evidence of prehistoric clubs being ever found. Naturally, there are people who claim that such creatures were actually neanderthals or other extinct hominids who survived into more recent times.
  • It has been suggested that all legends of trolls, dwarfs, and "wild men" like the Caucasian Almas originated from relic populations of Neanderthals, a prehistoric human species or subspecies. There is some possibility to this, as the last known Neanderthal people were absorbed into the larger modern human population around 30,000 years ago, but evidence points to some isolated pockets surviving until 20,000 years ago. However by that point, they would be inbred, which could account for the feral actions of Alma and trolls in folklore. Neanderthals are also known to be very similar to modern humans, since they buried their dead and had a level of symbolism, had potential for extreme muscular strength, and had big noses (basing off of fossils).

  • The Twilight Histories miniepisode “Beyond the Indus” takes place in a world where Alexander the Great continued to push into India. He and his army discover that the Indians have domesticated dinosaurs, who somehow survived the K-T Extinction. The dinosaurs are used as sources of food and beasts of burden.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions: Fantasy Hero has multiple settings taking place in Earth's distant past.
    • The Turakian Age is a Standard Fantasy Setting that takes place between 73,000 and 65,000 BC, ending with a war against a Lich that reshapes the world.
    • The Valdorian Age follows the Turakian, and is a Sword & Sorcery setting modeled after Conan the Barbarian, where the gods have abandoned man, magic is dangerous, rare and corrupting, and life and morality are cheap.
    • The Atlantean Age comes next, and is a High Fantasy setting focusing on Atlantis at the height of its power.
  • The Dark Eye: Dere is for the most part a typical modern fantasy world, but its fauna includes such things as mammoths, mastodons, wooly rhinos, saber-toothed tigers, horned saurians (generic ceratopsians) and gorgers (scaly, cold-blooded giant theropods).
  • Dungeons & Dragons has stats for dinosaurs, dire wolves (among other "dire" beasts), mastodons, and megalodons, plus several others. Whether or not they're actually part of the setting depends on the campaign.
    • This dates back to Gary Gygax's original Greyhawk campaign from the 1970s (which was heavily altered prior to its commercial release in 1980). Since he didn't have time to run gaming sessions on an almost nightly basis and create a detailed fantasy world, he set his adventures in an alternate version of North America. The Great Lakes region was a civilized area (the cities of Greyhawk and Dyvers were expys of Chicago and Milwaukee, respectively), while the western part of the continent was considered a "land that time forgot" full of cavemen, dinosaurs, and other prehistoric creatures.
    • The Eberron setting has the Talenta Plains, where nomadic tribes of halflings travel on the backs of dinosaurs.
    • The Hollow World of Mystara is home to several classical- or Dark Ages-era civilizations, existing alongside vast tracts of dinosaur-populated wilderness. Invoked, in a sense, as the Immortals (the gods of the setting) use the Hollow World as a place to preserve creatures and cultures that would have gone extinct in the outside world, and they've been at it for a long time.
    • For all the traditional fantasy critters to be found in it, the original, AD&D 1st Edition Monster Manual had no sea serpents, as such. Under the "dinosaur" listing, it did have plesiosaurs, though, which are functionally nearly the same thing. No doubt a lot of homespun campaigns used them for precisely that purpose.
  • Exalted: A variety of dinosaurs and Cenozoic megafauna inhabits Creation alongside humans, elementals and weirder things. Among others, there are tyrant lizards (Tyrannosaurus rex), raptors (originally featherless, which was later corrected), ox-dragons (non-specific ceratopsids), siege lizards (Stegosaurus), mammoths and saber-toothed tigers in the far North, emperor sloths (megatheres) in the jungles of the East, and ferocious hellboars (entelodonts).
  • GURPS: The bestiary in Banestorm includes "bushwolves", "paladins", and "treetippers" — from their descriptions and illustrations, they're evidently thylacines, glyptodonts, and giant ground sloths by other names. "Striders" may be one of the many species of flightless predatory bird that appear from time to time in the fossil record.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Dinosaurs exist as powerful apex predators in the primeval Realm of the Mammoth Lords and the trackless Mwangi Expanse, as well as in the swamps and jungles of the Lost World of Deep Tolguth, deep Beneath the Earth. They serve as the most powerful animals to exist without magical backing.
    • The game tends to describe Dire Beasts as larger, more powerful prehistoric versions of their smaller counterparts when possible. Dire apes, for instance, are Gigantopithecus, while dire bears are cave and short-faced bears, dire hyenas are Hyaenodon, dire boars are Daeodon, dire crocodiles are Sarcosuchus and so onnote .
    • "Megafauna" serves as a catch-all terms for large, prehistoric animals that are neither dinosaurs or dire versions of something else, and include the giant turtle Archelon, the primitive whale Basilosaurus and a variety of large, prehistoric mammals — including, of course, mammoths. Giant prehistoric fish, such as Dunkleosteus, appear as well. Many of these creatures are found in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, the Mwangi Expanse, and Deep Tolguth alongside dinosaurs, but they're more likely to be encountered elsewhere in the world.
  • RuneQuest: In addition to fantasy creatures such as trolls, elves and spirits, Glorantha is home to a variety of prehistoric beasts. Most are what we would consider Cenozoic megafauna, such as terror birds and "shovel-tuskers" (primitive proboscideans like Platybelodon), but Mesozoic creatures such as tyrannosaurs are present as well.
  • Warhammer:
    • The continent of Lustria is inhabited by dinosaurs and pterosaurs which are used as war mounts by the Lizardmen. The Cold Ones are one such species which happen to also be employed by the Dark Elves. The far northern regions of the planet are home to woolly mammoths, some of which have been corrupted by Chaos and are trained for battle by the northern tribes. Among the mountain beasts that are found in the Ogre Kingdoms, Sabretusks are based on sabre-tooth cats, only with their prominent canines extending from their lower jaws, while the Rhinoxen resemble woolly rhinos or Elasmotherium with extra horns.
    • Man O' War is a maritime spin-off that features megalodon as one of the many sea monsters lurking beneath the waves.

  • Age of Conan has mammoths and woolly rhinos along with civilized humans. It takes place in the Hyborian Age.
  • Age of Mythology is also set in the Time of Myths but is quite subdued in this regard, just featuring aurochs in northern maps (which actually lived in Europe through the Ancient and Medieval period), and giving the Norse tamed muskoxen as their trading unit despite muskoxen becoming extinct in Scandinavia around 9,000 years ago. A wild muskox unit was also planned at one point but was left unfinished, likely to be featured in tundra maps instead of the misplaced aurochs. Some fan mods take it up a notch and add mammoths edited from the game's elephants.
  • Conan Exiles also has mammoths (more realistic-looking this time unlike the Mûmakil-like version in Age of Conan) in the north, in addition to sabertooths and dire wolves. The aggressive "jungle birds" are either oversized shoebills or terror birds.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has sabre-toothed cats, cave bears and mammoths, as well as humans/cat people/lizard people/elves with a culture/tech level equivalent to the late Roman Empire.
  • The Legend of Zelda has dabbled in this here and there. The fire-breathing Dodongos are sometimes referred to as dinosaurs, although later games have leaned more into the Fiery Salamander trope for them; similarly, the Helmasaur enemies and their boss variants tend to resemble squat, Protoceratops-like dinosaurs. There's also a stronger variant of the Lizalfos enemy called a Dinolfos in a few games. Finally, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a species of woolly rhino (called Great-Horned Rhinoceros) living in the icy north.
  • World of Warcraft is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting with many medieval and Tolkienesque elements. Many creatures resemble or are directly based on prehistoric animals: there are raptors, sabretooth cats, woolly rhinos and mammoths; the kodo beast resembles a brontothere and the plainstrider look like a terror bird. Also, there is Un'Goro crater, a Lost World filled with pterosaurs, stegosaurs and Devilsaurs (which are, essentially, Tyrannosaurus rex).

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The raptor-riding banditos deliberately invoke this. They were paleontologists who discovered actual living Velociraptor, and after their leader's girlfriend dumped him for a man with incredible abs, they dressed up as banditos and took to riding the raptors, sustaining themselves by robbing people, just because no one would believe that. Their youngest member Gordito, who becomes the titular doctor's sidekick, points out that it really isn't so strange in Cumberland, where the local doctor is a ninja, his receptionist is a gorilla, the supermarket is run by a HULK MASH!-Up that looks like a fantasy ogre and is the son of Dr. Birding, and the mayor is a time traveler.
  • The Order of the Stick: The Empire of Blood makes extensive use of domesticated dinosaurs as mounts, beasts of burden and war animals. Specifically, Allosaurus, Pteranodon and Brontosaurusnote  are all seen at various points.

    Web Original 
  • Harry Turtledove's The Yorkshire Mammoth, an essay written in the style of a James Herriot story but set in a world where woolly mammoths survived to become farm animals in northern Great Britain. Several other glacial megafauna are mentioned to have survived until the Roman, Norman, or Elizabethan times.

    Western Animation 
  • Conan the Adventurer: In one episode, Zula uses his taming ritual on a woolly mammoth herd. Interestingly they are not treated differently from other wild animals in the series (other than being called powerful) and averting Mammoths Mean Ice Age, they don't appear in a snowy environment.

     Real Life 
  • This trope is more justified when it is about Pleistocene animals, because they existed alongside all animals that exist today (minus domestic ones), and in habitats that still exist today. From a biological standpoint, it wouldn't be less plausible for a mammoth to live in Medieval Europe than for an elephant to do it in Medieval India. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that some animals we commonly associate with the Pleistocene actually survived in isolated areas well into the Holocene, rather than all disappearing completely at the 12,000 BC mark.
  • The extinction of some megafauna actually lines very suspiciously with the timeline of human settlement, particularly in islands that were not settled until proto-historical or historical times like the greater Antilles (c. 5000 BC), New Caledonia (1600 BC), Madagascar (Roman times) and New Zealand (13th-15th centuries AD). In Madagascar, the elephant birds lingered in the central highlands until the Late Middle Ages and they are believed to have inspired the Roc bird myth.
  • The wooly mammoth survived in Alaska's St. Paul Island, Wrangel Island and the lower Lena River in Siberia until 6000-4000 years ago. A popular trivia is that when the last mammoth died in Wrangel Island, the Keops pyramid was already between 500 and 1000 years old. Unsurprisingly, claims of further survival in Siberia and Alaska are a favorite theme of 19th century travelers and modern cryptozoologists.
    • There is an Ancient Egyptian tomb painting depicting a pygmy-sized pachyderm. This could either be a dwarf mammoth, a Mediterranean dwarf elephant — or just Artistic License on the painter's part.
    • Elephants were drawn in northern Russia in Early Modern maps, prompting claims that these are post-Medieval mammoths. Funnily enough, they actually arised as representations of walruses. Southerners bought walrus ivory for centuries before learning of what animal it actually came from, and just assumed it was something like an elephant because elephants also make ivory.
    • Things only got more confusing when actual mammoth ivory began to be traded west after the Russian conquest of Siberia in the 17th century. Many tusks came from frozen carcasses and the traders assumed that the animals had died recently. Mammoth ivory is still a valuable commodity today because, unlike elephant ivory, its trade is not banned internationally due to mammoths being already extinct.
    • When Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark west, he told them to keep an eye open for living mammoths, mastodons, and the ground sloth Megalonyx, which he believed was some kind of giant cat. The reason was two-fold: extinction was still a novel concept in the early 1800s, and Jefferson had taken personal offense to a book that claimed New World animals were universally smaller and weaker than Old World animals, so he entertained the idea of bagging a mammoth and sending it to Europe to prove it wrong.
  • Besides mammoths, the Taymir peninsula (north of Siberia's Arctic Circle) and the Lena region also acted as refuge for other Siberian mammals between 8000 and 4000 years ago, such as Old World muskoxen, Siberian horses and steppe bison. Horse bones were unearthed in Medieval Inuit settlements dated to the 9th and 10th centuries AD, generating debate over wether they are very late Lena horses or domestic horses introduced by the Yakuts.
  • About bison, some might have survived even longer in the Baikal region, but they are generally believed to have been modern European bison. On the other hand, DNA confirmed in 2017 that steppe bison survived in the Yukon until only 5000 years ago, long after they were thought replaced by modern wood and plains bison in North America.
  • The giant Pleistocene deer, Megaloceros, survived until 9000-7000 years ago in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and northern Siberia. People have suggested that it survived longer in Ireland, due to the presence of "giant black deer" in Irish folklore and many poorly dated (but exquisitely preserved) skeletons found in bogs. Also in Ukraine, where Scythian artifacts have been uncovered with strangely large and elaborate antlers. The smaller Praemegaceros, which as its name suggest preceded Megaloceros in continental Europe, survived in isolation in Sardinia until 5500 BC.
    • As said above, Kurtén believed that the Nibelungenlied contained a reference to a Megaloceros in Medieval Austria. The line in question relates how Siegfried went on a hunting trip and slew a Wisent (bison), an Elch (elk/moose), four Ure (aurochs), and a mysterious "single fierce Schelch", which sounds like something like an elk, but different. Others have suggested that the Schelch is a wild horse. The Schelch (and the dragon for that matter) could still be directly inspired by Pleistocene megafauna in a different way, due to megafauna remains being common in caves of the area. The Klagenfurt dragon skull found in 1335, for example, was actually of a wooly rhinoceros.
    • The last surviving megacerine confirmed is probably Megaceroides algericus, which lived in North Africa until 6000 years ago.
  • The gomphothere Cuvieronius, the last American proboscidean, died out in Colombia 7000 years ago.
    • Some people claim that a couple of Roman-era Mayan reliefs in Copan, Honduras, represent tamed elephants and are either introduced Asian elephants or late surviving gomphotheres/ mastodons. The second is particularly popular among the LDS Church, due to the presence of American war elephants in the Book of Mormon.
    • In the 19th century, American mastodons were also claimed to have survived in North America until the Middle Ages and to have coexisted with the Mound Builders, but all evidence of this is now deemed inconclusive or an outright hoax (e.g., the "mastodon pipes").
  • There is a Sumerian figurine that allegedly depicts a Sivatherium, though it seems to actually be just a deer.
  • Because lions feature very prominently in Neolithic and Ancient Balkan and Greek art and literature, it was proposed once that the Pleistocene European cave lion survived there until historical times. However, later bone findings revealed that Balkan lions were actually the result of a short-lived invasion of Asian lions into Europe, just before the Sea of Marmara flooded and isolated them there.
  • Dire wolves survived in the Ozarks until only 4000 years ago.
  • Some Chinese paleontologists claim that megafauna (both cold climate and tropical) survived in China well into the Holocene, and that Shang Dynasty artifacts depicting elephants and rhinoceroses actually represent extinct genera like Palaeoloxodon and Elasmotherium. It should be noted that the Shang Dynasty territory in central China is thousands of miles north from the recent range of modern Asian elephants and rhinoceroses. However, the consensus is that the presented evidence is either poorly dated or misinterpreted.
  • Both bison and aurochs, the wild ancestor of cattle, were known to the Greeks and Romans and survived in Central Europe through the Middle Ages. The last aurochs died in Poland in 1627, while the European bison was rescued from imminent extinction, also in Poland, in the 1920s.
  • Reindeer were said to have survived in Medieval Scotland due to a Viking saga claiming their presence in Caithness and a Pictish stone supposedly depicting one. However, a 21st century review found that all claimed archaeological remains younger than 6300 BC were either misdated, mislabeled red deer remains, or lost. Nevertheless, reindeer were reintroduced starting in the 18th century and currently have a viable herd in the Cairngorms.


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