Joe Rogan ignites the Bone Treasure Hunt in New York City

If Joe Rogan told you to jump in a river, would you do it?

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The answer is yes if you are Don Gann, a 35-year-old commercial diver from New Jersey.

Stop after listening to a guest The Joe Rogan Experience to talk about valuable bones and tusks from woolly mammoths that museum curators allegedly dumped in New York’s East River in the 1940s, Gann and other treasure hunters began diving.

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If you’re not from New York or aren’t familiar with the East River, you should know that it’s… not pretty. The murky water allows divers to see about a foot in front of them, and a strong current rips across the bottom. It’s not exactly pleasure diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

So what are the odds of finding lost bones that were dumped along the riverbed more than 80 years ago? Gann admits they’re not high.

“I think the odds are as good as the lottery,” he told ABC7NY. “And people are buying these tickets every day.”

An additional hurdle for the treasure hunter could be that the treasure they are looking for may not even exist.

Officials at the American Museum of Natural History, where the suspected bone dumpers worked, released a statement to the Associated Press that the whole thing is tusk-y: “We have no record of the dumping of these fossils in the East River, nor could we have any record of this report found in the museum’s archives or other scholarly sources?

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The mammoth treasure hunt was sparked by Alaskan gold miner and fossil hunter John Reeves, who told the story of the discarded tusks on the December 30, 2022 episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.


After describing the number of prehistoric artifacts he uncovered while digging on his gold mining claim, Reeves discussed a document that described how prehistoric material found on the same land was donated to the American Museum of Natural History, and that the museum employees deemed them unfit for display and dumped them in the river near East 65th Street.

“I’m going to start a bone rush,” Reeves told Rogan. “We’ll see if anyone out there has a sense of adventure.”

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So far, Gann and about two dozen other groups of fossil hunters have not found the site of the alleged fossil dump, but he remains unhindered, telling ABC7NY he will be moving downstream and continuing the search.

“If I can’t find anything, I can’t find anything,” he said. “I honestly tried.”

His efforts seem to have paid off. Depending on its condition, a single tusk can be worth $20,000.