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Ancient human and animal remains are melting out of glaciers, a bounty of a warming world
US News ^ | Science & Technology 9/16/02 | BY ALEX MARKELS

Posted on 09/20/2002 10:29:33 AM PDT by vannrox

Science & Technology 9/16/02

Defrosting the past


Ancient human and animal remains are melting out of glaciers, a bounty of a warming world


BY ALEX MARKELS

As he hiked near Colorado's Continental Divide in the summer of 2001, Ed Knapp noticed a strange shape jutting from a melting ice field at 13,000 feet. "It looked like a bison skull," the building contractor and amateur archaeologist recalls. "I thought, 'That's strange. Bison don't live this high up.' "

Knapp brought the skull to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where scientists last month announced that it was indeed from a bison–one that died about 340 years ago. "This was an extraordinary discovery," says Russ Graham, the museum's chief curator, adding that it could alter notions of the mountain environment centuries ago. "There's probably a lot more like it yet to be found."

And not just bison. Colorado isn't the only place where glaciers and snowfields are melting. Decades of unusual warmth in regions from Peru to Alaska–a trend some think is linked to emissions from cars and industry–have shrunk or thawed many of the world's 70,000 glaciers. As the ice recedes, a treasure-trove of human and animal artifacts is emerging, extraordinarily well preserved after centuries in the deep freeze. The fabrics, wood, bone, and DNA-rich tissue found on the mucky fringes of the ice are revising scientists' understanding of our predecessors' health, habits, and technology, and the prey they pursued.

"It's mind-boggling how many different fields are being advanced through studying these remains," says Johan Reinhard, a high-altitude archaeologist and explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society. Rare, spectacular finds like the frozen mummies he discovered in the Andes of Peru in the 1990s and the legendary 5,300-year-old "Ice Man," found at the edge of a receding glacier in the Alps in 1991, have offered time capsules of cultural and biological information. Now, as the ice continues to retreat, it is yielding not just occasional treasures but long records of humans and animals in the high mountains.

Vanishing act. The trick is finding such specimens before Mother Nature–and looters–take them first. Once uncovered, frozen remains can deteriorate within hours or be gnawed by animals. Moreover, they're often so well preserved when they emerge that people who come upon them don't even realize they're ancient.

That was the case when three men hunting sheep near a high glacier in British Columbia, Canada, three years ago saw what they thought was a dead animal. "It looked a little like sealskin buried in the ice," recalls Warren Ward, a teacher from nearby Nelson. "But when I looked closer I could see leather fringe from a coat and finger bones."

Figuring they had found the remains of another hunter, or perhaps a fur trapper, the men stowed a flint knife and other artifacts in a Zip-Loc bag and delivered them to local officials. Archaeologists later exhumed the fallen hunter's body, along with a woven hat, fur clothing, and what seemed to be a medicine bag. Carbon dating revealed that the hunter lived about 550 years ago. Dubbed Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi, or Long Ago Person Found, by people of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (who may be his direct descendants), he is perhaps the best-preserved human from the period ever found in North America.

Other findings from melting ice in the neighboring Yukon region could explain what that long-ago person was doing in the mountains in the first place. "Before this there was no archaeological record of people living here," says Greg Hare, a Yukon government archaeologist. "Now we see that this area was very much part of people's seasonal activities."

Like Ward's discovery, the search began by chance, when Kristin Benedek caught a whiff of what smelled like a barnyard as she and her husband, Gerry Kuzyk, hunted sheep at 6,000 feet in the mountains of the south Yukon. They followed the scent to a melting patch of ice covered in caribou dung. "It was really odd, because I knew there hadn't been caribou in the area for at least 100 years," recalls Kuzyk, then a wildlife biologist with the Yukon government.

Caribou cake. Returning a week later, he found "what looked like a pencil with string wrapped around it." It turned out to be a 4,300-year-old atlatl, or spear thrower. Further investigation of the ice patch–and scores of others around the region–revealed icy layer cakes filled with caribou remains and human detritus chronicling 7,800 years of changing hunting practices.

Scientists now believe ancient caribou and other animals flocked to the ice each summer to cool down and escape swarming mosquitoes and flies. Hunters followed the game. They returned for centuries and discarded some equipment in the ice. "We've got people hunting with throwing darts up until 1,200 years ago," says Hare, who now oversees the research project. "Then we see the first appearance of the bow and arrow about 1,300 years ago. And by 1,200 years ago, there's no more throwing darts."

Now scientists are trying to make the search less a matter of luck. They are developing sophisticated computer models that combine data on where glaciers are melting fastest and where humans and animals are known to have migrated to pinpoint the best places to search in Alaska's Wrangell and St. Elias mountain ranges–the United States' most glaciated terrain–and in the Andes. Johan Reinhard thinks the fast- thawing European Alps could also deliver more findings, perhaps as exquisite as the Ice Man. "Global warming is providing us high-altitude archaeologists with some fantastic opportunities right now. We're probably about the only ones happy about it."



TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Japan; News/Current Events; Russia; US: Colorado; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: climate; colorado; discovery; glaciation; global; godsgravesglyphs; history; ice; iceage; melt; mountain; past; science; warming
...interesting.
1 posted on 09/20/2002 10:29:33 AM PDT by vannrox
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To: vannrox
Fascinating!
2 posted on 09/20/2002 10:34:38 AM PDT by NautiNurse
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To: vannrox
This was an extraordinary discovery," says Russ Graham, the museum's chief curator, adding that it could alter notions of the mountain environment centuries ago. "There's probably a lot more like it yet to be found."

And not just bison. Colorado isn't the only place where glaciers and snowfields are melting. Decades of unusual warmth in regions from Peru to Alaska–a trend some think is linked to emissions from cars and industry–have shrunk or thawed many of the world's 70,000 glaciers.

OK, I couldn't read any further. If we are having this "global warming" disaster, caused by us- would someone tell me how the bison got there in the first place?

Like, maybe he lived there?

In a time when the world was even warmer than it is now?

3 posted on 09/20/2002 10:36:24 AM PDT by DETAILER
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To: blam
Ping!
4 posted on 09/20/2002 10:39:42 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: vannrox
Looking at it from another perspective, we see that life is now returning to areas, where 350-550 years ago the same life was to be found. Thus we could see this as the earth reverting back to temperture ranges found 100's of years ago. This tends towards confirming what most scientists already know. That being that the earth has expereinced climatic fluctuatuins for ions. This also tends towards debunking the "earth warming" fears which some elements of society which to capitilize on for their own personal reasons.
5 posted on 09/20/2002 10:41:22 AM PDT by Michael.SF.
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To: DETAILER
very good point. Actually, if the warming is a result of automobiles and industry, what caused the last ice age to end? There was obviously global warming.
6 posted on 09/20/2002 10:43:48 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: DETAILER
Only a species as arrogant as Homo sapeins would imagine that their minuscule appearance on the planet Earth is of such major importance and influence as to wreak havoc and forever change Mother Nature's plan .....
ROTFLMAO !
7 posted on 09/20/2002 10:44:50 AM PDT by Marobe
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To: Michael.SF.
Not only that, I thought that glaciers continually moved/flowed downward over time - a few inches per year. So what if remains of animals etc. fall out the end as it melts at lower temperatures. One would need some pictures that show a glacier has significantly receded over time.
8 posted on 09/20/2002 10:47:46 AM PDT by Rockyrich
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To: vannrox
Not to worry! A nuclear winter will offset so called global warming!
9 posted on 09/20/2002 10:51:10 AM PDT by sheik yerbouty
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To: DETAILER; afraidfortherepublic
"In a time when the world was even warmer than it is now?"

Yup. There's another article out that deals exclusively with the bison found at 13,000 ft and the possibility of things being warmer.

10 posted on 09/20/2002 10:51:47 AM PDT by blam
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To: DETAILER
Same reason Buffalo, N.Y. got it's name, they used to live there.

Actually, they still do, just south of there is a Buffalo farm.

Did anyone see Sunday's 60 minutes show on the pre-indian skeleton found in Wisc.?

It broaches the "we he first, chemo~sabi" issue. Possible can'o'worms, so in the interest of preserving the "sacred past"{i.e. casino profits}, it was covered up.

11 posted on 09/20/2002 10:51:59 AM PDT by norraad
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To: norraad
So true. NY also grows some fine grapes... whodathunkit.
12 posted on 09/20/2002 10:59:33 AM PDT by johnny7
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To: vannrox
"interesting"

Yep. Incidentally, the B.C. town mentioned in the article is Fort Nelson(mile 300--Alaska H'way), not Nelson(a town in southern B.C.)
13 posted on 09/20/2002 11:03:41 AM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: vannrox
Proving it was warmer before it got colder.
14 posted on 09/20/2002 11:05:21 AM PDT by OldFriend
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To: vannrox
Dubbed Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi, or Long Ago Person Found, by people of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations...

You'd think they could have come up with just a BIT more original name.

15 posted on 09/20/2002 11:15:11 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: Constitution Day
I believe that the frenzy over global warming heated up after the 2000 election demographics map that showed that Democratic strongholds were on either coastline and were ultimately high-water risks!
16 posted on 09/20/2002 11:20:41 AM PDT by stars & stripes forever
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To: sheik yerbouty
A nuclear winter will offset so called global warming!

This fictional theory was started by Carl Sagan and his cronies. It has been debunked many times over the years.

17 posted on 09/20/2002 11:22:10 AM PDT by bat-boy
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To: Marobe
"Only a species as arrogant as Homo sapeins would imagine that their minuscule appearance on the planet Earth is of such major importance and influence as to wreak havoc and forever change Mother Nature's plan ..... ROTFLMAO !"

Bingo! Every time I hear of a tornado, flood, fire, or hurricane tearing to splinters whatever man has built, I think "Poor little mother nature! She just can't defend herself!"

18 posted on 09/20/2002 11:25:25 AM PDT by redhead
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To: blam; callisto; Ernest_at_the_Beach; LostTribe; RightWhale; Rutabega; PoisedWoman; Yeti; ...
((((((growl)))))



19 posted on 09/20/2002 11:38:11 AM PDT by Sabertooth
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: DETAILER
You know, the doomsayers hate it when you think.

Please don't do that anymore and report at once for your reprogramming. (/sarcasm)

21 posted on 09/20/2002 12:31:21 PM PDT by ken in texas
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To: vannrox
Then we see the first appearance of the bow and arrow about 1,300 years ago.

Bow and arrow in 700 AD? Slow learners - at that rate it probably would've taken "native" Americans until 20,000 AD to discover food stamps and Bingo.

22 posted on 09/20/2002 12:38:00 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: vannrox
Aged beef?


23 posted on 09/20/2002 12:38:24 PM PDT by Flashman_at_the_charge
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To: Flashman_at_the_charge
Gotta be a "RUTH'S CHRIS" steak!
24 posted on 09/20/2002 1:38:50 PM PDT by jaz.357
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To: vannrox
The Almanac is predicting a lot of snow here in VA. LOL. I'll be ready to rub it in, too. Freegards....
25 posted on 09/20/2002 1:39:54 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: johnny7
Would you believe the biggest industry in New York State is FARMING?!
26 posted on 09/20/2002 2:02:21 PM PDT by MJemison
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
...if the warming is a result of automobiles and industry, what caused the last ice age to end?

A couple of dead white males named Fred and Barney driving around int their d**n Flintstonemobiles.

And it's a good bet that they were paleo-conservatives.

27 posted on 09/20/2002 2:10:39 PM PDT by uglybiker
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To: vannrox
Now scientists are trying to make the search less a matter of luck. They are developing sophisticated computer models that combine data on where glaciers are melting fastest and where humans and animals are known to have migrated to pinpoint the best places to search in Alaska's Wrangell and St. Elias mountain ranges–the United States' most glaciated terrain–and in the Andes

With some luck, a bigfoot or space alien will defrost.........wait a minute......James Carville..........noooooooooo.

28 posted on 09/20/2002 2:39:03 PM PDT by CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
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To: vannrox
Knapp brought the skull to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where scientists last month announced that it was indeed from a bison–one that died about 340 years ago.

So whose cars and what industry caused the warmth in the area when the bison was alive and grazing? The assumption that this present thaw is caused by mankind is arrogance on the part of man to think we are so powerful.

29 posted on 09/20/2002 2:43:14 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: DETAILER
Whoops, I should have read the thread before commenting on the article - my observations were redundant.
30 posted on 09/20/2002 2:48:33 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: Sabertooth

31 posted on 09/20/2002 3:07:12 PM PDT by MeekOneGOP
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To: bat-boy
I'm not worried.
32 posted on 09/20/2002 4:46:14 PM PDT by sheik yerbouty
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To: vannrox
The glaciers left Minnesota about 10,000 years ago for the third or fourth time. No automobiles then. Only the liberals are able to challenge the saying, "Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."
33 posted on 09/20/2002 5:18:39 PM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: Michael.SF.
You are right on the mark!
34 posted on 09/20/2002 9:42:59 PM PDT by capitan_refugio
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To: jaz.357
Is is indeed!
35 posted on 09/21/2002 9:11:38 AM PDT by Flashman_at_the_charge
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To: vannrox
Ancient dormant exotic and incurable microbes, germs and viruses, etc will awaken and cover the Earth and after we're all dead, they will mutate into a non-infectious form. Everyone will be infected and we will all be reduced to democrats and then we'll die out.
36 posted on 09/21/2002 9:26:14 AM PDT by Consort
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To: Jimer
Ancient dormant exotic and incurable microbes, germs and viruses, etc will awaken and cover the Earth and after we're all dead, they will mutate into a non-infectious form. Everyone will be infected and we will all be reduced to democrats and then we'll die out.

And a good morning to you, Merry Sunshine! LOL

37 posted on 09/21/2002 1:07:02 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: MJemison
Would you believe the biggest industry in New York State is FARMING?!

Lawyers grow on trees up there too, eh??

38 posted on 09/21/2002 1:15:18 PM PDT by piasa
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To: vannrox
"We've got people hunting with throwing darts up until 1,200 years ago,"

I've wondered why you never see bison in an English pub.

39 posted on 09/21/2002 1:16:04 PM PDT by decimon
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To: piasa
Lawyers grow on trees . . .

Yes, unfortunately. And now many of them have clients who have moved from urban areas to rural areas, and feel thay have the right to control everything the farmers do. I fear that agriculture is doomed in this state and country.

40 posted on 09/23/2002 7:11:34 AM PDT by MJemison
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To: piasa
Lawyers grow on trees . . .

Yes, unfortunately. And now many of them have clients who have moved from urban areas to rural areas, and feel thay have the right to control everything the farmers do. I fear that agriculture is doomed in this state and country.

41 posted on 09/23/2002 7:32:22 AM PDT by MJemison
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To: vannrox; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Rurudyne; steelyourfaith; Tolerance Sucks Rocks; xcamel

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks vannrox.
Note: this topic is from 9/20/2002.
Blast from the Past. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


42 posted on 07/25/2011 5:31:25 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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