The Book of Mormon says man dwelt contemporaneously with “elephants” and that they were “useful” to them. This appears a problem to some, in particular, the Smithsonian. Authorities on Ancient America claim that elephants and horses ceased to exist after the last ice age. This, many claim, is proof the Book of Mormon is wrong.
The considered opinion of most scientists as of 1880 was that the mammoth and mastodon had vanished from the Americas thousands of years before. The occasional poorly documented discoveries of human artifacts in association with the bones of the extinct elephants had proved, at best, that the most primitive inhabitants of the New Word had hunted them. But on the evidence of the Davenpot pipes and the Davenport mastodon tablet, it now seemed clear that Mound Builders had been contemporaries of those beasts (elephants). By logical extension, the era of the Mound Builders must have been remote in time; and by further extension, the gap between the Mound Builders and the American Indians appeared huge. The great debate that had continued for most the century had been resolved to the satisfaction of the majority. The existence of the Mound Builders as a distinct, ancient, and vanished race had been established, and the voices of those who ascribed the mounds to the ancestors of recent Indian tribesmen were drowned out.
Then a new voice was heard across the land: that of the United States Government, speaking through the instrumentality of the Smithsonian Institution. And the certainties of 1880 became the mythology of 1890 (Robert Silverberg, Mound Builders of Ancient America, The Archaeology of a Myth, New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 165).
Did Joseph Smith see an elephant prior to writing the Book of Mormon? No. Were they co-existing with the Indians? No. If it were fiction and Joseph wrote it, then why would he include things not supported like elephants? The truth will be vindicated.
The evidence is overwhelming that elephants, i.e. Mastodons, existed contemporaneously with man after the ice age; during Book of Mormon times (600 BC – 400 AD), and went extinct possibly because of tuberculous:
A 2006 study identified tuberculous lesions in 59 of 113 mastodon (Mammut americanum) skeletons (52%) and implicated TB in the mastodon’s extinction (Rothschild, B.M., Helbling, M. & Laub, R., 2006, “Hyperdisease in the late Pleistocene: Validation of an early 20th century hypothesis.” Naturwissenchaften 93:557-564).
If the Smithsonian experts will not concede the contemporaneousness of elephants in America after the ice age, what chance is there their experts will vindicate the Book of Mormon? Facts support the Book of Mormon, not the Smithsonian.