NEW YORK (AP) — Ask people what they might find buried in the mud at the bottom of New York City’s East River and they’ll probably say “mob boss” before thinking of mammoth bones.

But several groups of treasure hunters have taken to the canal in recent weeks after hearing a guest on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast claim that potentially valuable prehistoric mammoth bones worth a dollar were dumped in the river in the 1940s. wagon.

Despite a lack of evidence to back up the story, treasure hunters using boats, scuba gear and technology like remote-operated cameras have gone searching, hoping the murky waters hide woolly mammoth tusks.

“I think the chances are as good as the lottery. And people buy those tickets every day,” said Don Gann, 35, of North Arlington, New Jersey, a commercial diver who has been in the water since early last week with his brother and two workers.

It all started when John Reeves, an Alaskan gold miner with a passion for fossils, came to “The Joe Rogan Experience” for an episode that aired December 30 to talk about his land, where he personally discovered numerous ancient bones and tusks. In the first half of the 20th century, under previous ownership, digging for gold unearthed a trove of prehistoric mammal remains.

Some of that material was brought to New York City decades ago to be given to the American Museum of Natural History. Reeves cited a draft of a report by three men, including one who worked at the museum, which included a reference to some fossils and bones deemed unsuitable for the museum being dumped in the river.

“I’m going to start a bone race,” Reeves told Rogan, before reading the draft and giving a location: East River Drive, which is now known as FDR Drive, around 65th Street.

“We’ll see if anyone out there has a sense of adventure,” he said, then added: “Let me tell you something about mammoth bones, mammoth tusks: they’re extremely valuable.”

After the episode aired, the American Museum of Natural History dumped water as cold as the East River on the story.

“We have no record of the removal of these fossils in the East River, nor have we been able to find any record of this report in museum archives or other scientific sources,” it said in a statement.

When contacted by phone by The Associated Press, Reeves declined to speak, instead telling a reporter to read the pages of the draft he had posted on social media before hanging up. He did not return other calls and emails.

Pages posted on social media identify three men as the perpetrators: Richard Osborne, an anthropologist; Robert Evander, who previously worked in the paleontology department at the American Museum of Natural History; and Robert Sattler, an archaeologist with a consortium of Alaska Native tribes.

Contacted by The Associated Press, Sattler said the story about the dumped bones came from Osborne, who died in 2005.

The document Reeves cited was real, he said, and written in the mid-1990s. But it wasn’t something destined for an academic journal. It was a starting point for something, perhaps a book, based on Osborne’s knowledge of a period in Alaska when mammoth remains were being discovered in abundance. Osborne’s father worked for a company involved in the excavation.

Sattler said Osborne spent time at the operation as a young man and likely heard the story about leftover bones being dumped in the river secondhand. Sattler said he had no details beyond Osborne’s recollection.

“He would have had some knowledge of someone telling him that they dumped excess material in the East River,” he said.

Mammoth remains discovered in Alaska ended up at the American Museum of Natural History, including some that are still on display today.

The section of Manhattan shoreline where Reeves claimed the bones were dumped underwent major changes in the 1930s and 1940s, as East River Drive, later renamed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was built on fill and pilings. The road was fully opened to drivers in 1942, raising questions about how anyone would have dumped a massive hoard of bones without disrupting traffic.

Gann said he has seen about two dozen other groups of fossil hunters in the time he has spent searching for mammoth remains in the East River.

Visibility on the East River is extremely poor, he said. On a good day, you can see maybe a foot in front of you. The current at the bottom is strong.

But the avid scuba diver, who was featured on Discovery’s “Sewer Divers,” has a thing for seeking out unusual finds, though mammoth bones are on a different scale than finding a Paul Revere spoon at an estate sale.

“I’ve been looking for rare artifacts my whole life, so this one fits my repertoire,” Gann said.

He and his team have found nothing, which he admits is disappointing, but has encouraged him to dig into the story on his own. He shifted his sights to a location outside of the southern part of Brooklyn, saying it would have been a more likely site to offload cargo than the East River across from Manhattan.

“If I don’t find anything, then I don’t find anything. I gave it an honest shot,” Gann said.