Hello all! I’m a long time listener of TWT and first time poster.
I’m writing this message to hopefully get the word out regarding The Boneyard Alaska’s claims against the American Museum of Natural History. Now this isn’t exactly animal news, but it relates to a Gentleman that Forrest has spoken about before, Mr. John Reeves and his bone collecting near Fairbanks, Alaska.
To give the uninformed a quick summary, Mr. Reeves is a gold miner and land owner of a property located in Fairbanks, AK which is home to an extraordinary amount of Paleontological material. He claims that at some point prior to him acquiring the property, the previous land owner shipped somewhere in the realm of 500,000lbs of Pleistocene-aged bones to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. These bones allegedly belonged to Wooly Mammoths, Short Faced Bears, American Lions, and many other animals. At some point after the bones were shipped, the AMNH disposed of “a box car full” of bones into the East River of NYC. Mr. Reeves asserts this based on a “report” in which he found in his company’s files. On the Joe Rogan Experience, he stated that he stumbled across the report in his company’s filing cabinet, and he “started to look into it”. But if you read the portions that he’s posted, he is praised several times. How could his work be praised if he had no idea a report was being drafted (before he says he started digging)?
This alleged report was drafted by a man named Richard H. Osborne and portions of it are posted on the Boneyard Alaska Instagram account. Upon reading this report, many things seemed off to me. In fact, the report isn’t even the final copy. In Mr. Reeves’ own posts it can be seen that the report is a draft and appears to be typed on MS word.
I’m currently an undergrad student majoring in Archaeology and have read my fair share of articles posted in academic journals, this doesn’t fit the bill.
Mr. Reeves recently appeared on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience (Ep. 1918), where he used this report to start “a bone rush” to the East River. I believe that this document was potentially fabricated, or just doesn’t contain reliable information.
I have reached this conclusion based off of numerous things said by Mr. Reeves. He claims that the report was written by the AMNH however the cover page shows that it was written by retired professor of Anthropology/Genetics: Richard H. Osborne. Mr. Osborne was never an employee at the AMNH, nor was he a paleontologist, archaeologist, or paleoanthropologist.
Mr. Osborne’s life began in 1920, born in Kennicott, AK, and attended the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (where Mr. Reeves’ land is located) in 1939. He studied there for two years until 1941, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served until the end of the war in 1945. From 1945 until 1956, Mr. Osborne was a student in the lower 48. Eventually graduating with a PhD, he was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison until his retirement in 1985. According to his obituary, Mr. Osborne is not know to have done any field work in Alaska, and most likely did not return in a professional capacity at any point. I also have not been able to find a complete list of his work, but what is provided in the obituary is completely unrelated to paleontology and Alaska in general.
In the report, he also references the Kennewick Man. The Kennewick Man is a prehistoric man that lived approximately 9k years before present, and was found in Kennewick, WA in 1996. Due to this, if Mr. Osborne is indeed the author of the document, this was written 9 years before he passed away in 2005.
But I haven’t even told you the best part yet. Mr. Reeves from Boneyard Alaska says that he didn’t begin digging at that site until 2008. So how is it possible for Mr. Osborne to write about Mr. Reeves’s direct contributions to the site, if he had passed away 5 years before Reeves began digging? (I’d pull the direct quote, but I was blocked by the instagram account for raising these questions in the comment section).
The posted draft of the report also includes in-text citations, yet is missing a bibliography so there is no way to verify the information in the report.
I also haven’t been able to find much information about Robert L. Evanger, the draft’s coauthor, besides that he is a paleontologist and worked for the American Museum of Natural History at some point. His published work appears to be mostly centered around horses, other small mammals, and bats in Nebraska during the Miocene.
John Reeves from Boneyard Alaska is potentially being dishonest, and I believe his claim that the AMNH dumped bones into the East River of NYC is just a ploy to drive up his company’s business, which is selling bones from the Pleistocene to collectors and he appears to be taking to the social media game. There is absolutely zero evidence that the information he’s provided is legitimate, and in my opinion the research I’ve done suggests the exact opposite.
I am posting this here in the hopes that you fine folks are able to spread the word. I really hope that this is able to “come across” the desk of the Wild Boys on air, because I believe that accusing well respected academics of dumping scientific material into a river is wrong. I don’t want any credit for this research, I just want the truth to be known. If this post leaves you with questions, I wrote another piece on reddit, which I decided not to copy/paste here.
If you have any questions please let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer them!