Ice Age fossils discovery in Los Angeles


This video from the USA says about itself:

20 Sep 2010

A utility company preparing to build a new substation southeast of Los Angeles has stumbled on a trove of fossils dating back 1.4 million years. The cache contains nearly 1,500 fossils, including an ancestor of the saber-toothed tiger.

From USA Today:

Ice Age fossils discovered in L.A. subway construction

10:07 a.m. EST March 7, 2014

An exploratory dig for Los Angeles’ subway extension project has uncovered Ice Age fossils.

The discoveries so far have included geoducks (large clams), sand dollars and digger pine tree cones and seeds, and a rock that “appears to have a sea lion skull within it that is perhaps two million years or more old,” according to the Metro Rail’s blog.

The expansion of L.A.’s purple line is near the La Brea Tar Pits, where many fossils have been found.

The exploratory shaft for the subway route is now 65 feet deep, according to Metro.

“We expect that we’re going to find large deposits of late Ice Age vertebrate remains,” said Aisling Farrell, collections manager at Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, in an interview with KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Metro is working with the museum to identify and preserve the fossils, according to Metro.

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Prehistoric human discovery in England


This video from Britain says about itself:

The earliest human footprints outside Africa found in Norfolk | Natural History Museum

7 Feb 2014

A series of footprints that were left by early humans over 800,000 years ago have been discovered by a team of scientists led by the British Museum, Natural History Museum and Queen Mary University of London.

The footprints left in ancient estuary muds were found at Happisburgh in Norfolk and are direct evidence of the earliest known humans in northern Europe. Find out more about the discovery: here.

Archaeological finds from Happisburgh and other locations around the country feature in our Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story exhibition, open between 13 February and 28 September 2014: here.

From Associated Press:

Million-year-old footprints found

Last updated 15:42 08/02/2014

They were a British family on a day out — almost a million years ago.

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of human footprints in England that are between 800,000 and 1 million years old — the most ancient found outside Africa, and the earliest evidence of human life in northern Europe.

A team from the British Museum, London’s Natural History Museum and Queen Mary college at the University of London uncovered imprints from up to five individuals in ancient estuary mud at Happisburgh on the country’s eastern coast.

British Museum archaeologist Nick Ashton said the discovery — recounted in detail in the journal PLOS ONE — was ‘‘a tangible link to our earliest human relatives.’’

Preserved in layers of silt and sand for hundreds of millennia before being exposed by the tide last year, the prints give a vivid glimpse of some of our most ancient ancestors.

They were left by a group, including at least two children and one adult male. They could have been be a family foraging on the banks of a river scientists think may be the ancient Thames, beside grasslands where bison, mammoth, hippos and rhinoceros roamed.

University of Southampton archaeology professor Clive Gamble, who was not involved in the project, said the discovery was ‘‘tremendously significant”.

‘‘It’s just so tangible,’’ he said. ‘‘This is the closest we’ve got to seeing the people. ‘‘When I heard about it, it was like hearing the first line of (William Blake’s hymn) Jerusalem — ‘And did those feet, in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?’ Well, they walked upon its muddy estuary.’’

The researchers said the humans who left the footprints may have been related to Homo antecessor, or ‘‘pioneer man,’’ whose fossilised remains have been found in Spain.

That species died out about 800,000 years ago. Ashton said the footprints are between 800,000 — ‘‘as a conservative estimate’’ — and 1 million years old, at least 100,000 years older than scientists’ earlier estimate of the first human habitation in Britain.

That’s significant because 700,000 years ago, Britain had a warm, Mediterranean-style climate. The earlier period was much colder, similar to modern-day Scandinavia. Natural History Museum archaeologist Chris Stringer said that 800,000 or 900,000 years ago Britain was ‘‘the edge of the inhabited world.’’

‘This makes us rethink our feelings about the capacity of these early people, that they were coping with conditions somewhat colder than the present day,’’ he said.

‘‘Maybe they had cultural adaptations to the cold we hadn’t even thought were possible 900,000 years ago. Did they wear clothing? Did they make shelters, windbreaks and so on?

”Could they have the use of fire that far back?’’ he asked.

Scientists dated the footprints by studying their geological position and from nearby fossils of long-extinct animals including mammoth, ancient horse and early vole.

John McNabb, director of the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton — who was not part of the research team — said the use of several lines of evidence meant ‘‘the dating is pretty sound.’’

Once uncovered, the perishable prints were recorded using sophisticated digital photography to create 3-D images in which it’s possible to discern arches of feet, and even toes.

Isabelle De Groote, a specialist in ancient human remains at Liverpool John Moores University who worked on the find, said that from the pattern of the prints, the group of early humans appeared to be ‘‘pottering around,’’ perhaps foraging for food. She said it wasn’t too much of a stretch to call it a family.

‘‘These individuals travelling together, it’s likely that they were somehow related,’’ she said. Research at Happisburgh will continue, and scientists are hopeful of finding fossilised remains of the ancient humans, or evidence of their living quarters, to build up a fuller picture of their lives. The footprint find will form part of an exhibition, ‘‘Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story,’’ opening at the Natural History Museum next week.

The footprints themselves, which survived for almost 1 million years, won’t be there. Two weeks after they were uncovered, North Sea tides had washed them away.

The oldest human footprints ever discovered outside of Africa have already been washed away: here.

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Mammoths extinct because of lack of flowers?


This video is called Woolly Mammoth: Secrets From Ice – Documentary.

From Reuters news agency:

Disappearance of wildflowers may have doomed Ice Age giants

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 5, 2014 6:20pm EST

Flower power may have meant the difference between life and death for some of the extinct giants of the Ice Age, including the mighty woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros.

Scientists who studied DNA preserved in Arctic permafrost sediments and in the remains of such ancient animals have concluded that these Ice Age beasts relied heavily on the protein-rich wildflowers that once blanketed the region.

But dramatic Ice Age climate change caused a huge decline in these plants, leaving the Arctic covered instead in grasses and shrubs that lacked the same nutritional value and could not sustain the big herbivorous mammals, the scientists reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

The change in vegetation began roughly 25,000 years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago – a time when many of the big animals slipped into extinction, the researchers said.

Scientists for years have been trying to figure out what caused this mass extinction, when two-thirds of all the large-bodied mammals in the Northern Hemisphere died out.

“Now we have, from my perspective at least, a very credible explanation,” Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, an expert in ancient DNA who led an international team of researchers, said in a telephone interview.

The findings contradicted the notion that humans arriving in these regions during the Ice Age caused the mass extinction by hunting the big animals into oblivion – the so-called overkill or Blitzkrieg hypothesis.

“We think that the major driver (of the mass extinction) is not the humans,” Willerslev said, although he did not rule out that human hunters may have delivered the coup de grace to some species already diminished by the dwindling food supplies.

The Arctic region once teemed with herds of big animals, in some ways resembling an African savanna. Large plant eaters included woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, horses, bison, reindeer and camels, with predators including hyenas, saber-toothed cats, lions and huge short-faced bears.

The scientists carried out a 50,000-year history of the vegetation across the Arctic in Siberia and North America.

They obtained 242 permafrost sediment samples from various Arctic sites and studied the feces and stomach contents from the mummified remains of Ice Age animals recovered in places like Siberia. They determined the age of the samples and analyzed the DNA.

While many scientists had thought the ecosystem had been grasslands and the big animals were grass eaters, this study showed it instead was dominated by a kind of plant known as forbs – essentially wildflowers.

“The whole Arctic ecosystem looked extremely different from today. You can imagine these enormous steppes with no trees, no shrubs, but dominated by these small flowering plants,” Willerslev said.

Christian Brochmann, a botanist at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, said the permafrost contained “a vast, frozen DNA archive left as footprints from past ecosystems,” that could be deciphered by exploring animal and plant collections already stored in museums.

(Reporting by Will Dunham, editing by G Crosse)

Did flowers take out the woolly mammoth? Here.

From Russia with love: baby mammoth on way to London Museum: here.

Woolly Mammoths’ Birth Defects May Have Contributed To Animals’ Extinction: here.

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Ancient Neanderthals, new research


This video says about itself:

Svante Pääbo: DNA clues to our inner Neanderthal

30 Aug 2011

Sharing the results of a massive, worldwide study, geneticist Svante Pääbo shows the DNA proof that early humans mated with Neanderthals after we moved out of Africa. (Yes, many of us have Neanderthal DNA.) He also shows how a tiny bone from a baby finger was enough to identify a whole new humanoid species.

By Matthew MacEgan:

The genetic legacy of the Neanderthals

6 January 2014

New research published in a recent issue of Nature presents the sequencing of the entire genome of a Neanderthal woman who lived in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia over 50,000 years ago. The data gathered from this study, along with another published study regarding the genome sequencing of a Denisovan hominin, a related group of humans who lived side by side with Neanderthals during this period, has much to say about prehistoric human development and the genetic makeup of modern humans, going far beyond any previous genetic research on archaic humans.

Genome sequencing is a relatively new process that enables researchers to map and examine DNA. The most famous example has been the Human Genome Project, an international effort to map the entire genetic sequence of modern humans all over the world, allowing for a detailed exploration of our biological history. The recent sequencing of Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes are the very first performed on extinct hominins (humans) and dramatically aid in our understanding of gene flow and drift between our archaic predecessors.

The Neanderthal type specimen fossil was discovered in a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Germany, in August 1856. Its discovery took place just three years prior to the publishing of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, launching the finding into a larger debate about biological evolution. The most commonly debated aspect of Neanderthal history in recent years has been whether Neanderthals interbred with Homo sapiens and whether such offspring were fertile.

Separating Neandertal DNA from modern human contamination: here.
Geographic dispersal of Neanderthals

There are currently known remains attributed to 400 different Neanderthals ranging geographically from Portugal to Siberia, including northern European finds in England and Germany as well as Middle Eastern counterparts in Israel and Iraq. These fossils range in date from 350,000 years ago to 35,000 years ago.

Earlier Neanderthal fossils share traits with the older hominin Homo heidelbergensis, which spread across Africa, Europe, and Asia at least 600,000 years ago. Both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens are believed to have evolved from Homo heidelbergensis, each group developing in isolation due to prolonged quaternary glacial periods. If this hypothesis is correct, Homo sapiens would have developed in Africa, while Neanderthals evolved throughout Eurasia.

Neanderthals share 99.7 percent of their DNA with modern humans but display very specific morphological differences. Neanderthals were considerably more “robust” than Homo sapiens, featuring thicker bones and a larger brain case. While modern humans have an average brain capacity of 1400cc, the average Neanderthal reached 1600cc in size. Neanderthals are also thought to have been much stronger than anatomically modern humans, especially having stronger arms and hands. It has even been suggested that the more robust Neanderthal teeth were used as cutting tools (the more “gracile” Homo sapiens teeth perhaps developed along with the increased use of fire to cook food, which made it softer). Neanderthals are also thought to have consumed a larger percentage of meat as part of their diet, including big game animals. One of the more popular explanations for the physical divergence between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens is climatic. Bodies with shorter limbs and thicker forms retain heat more efficiently in colder geographic areas while more lissome figures with longer limbs disperse heat better in warmer climates.

In 2008, an excavation performed in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, near the borders of Kazakhstan and Mongolia, yielded the fossil remains of both Neanderthals and those of a potentially new group of hominins that have since become known as “Denisovans.” These remains have enabled researchers to determine that both groups inhabited Eurasia during the period when modern humans emerged from Africa (around 50,000 years ago), leading some to believe that Denisovans similarly evolved from Homo heidelbergensis living in Asia.

According to the recent Nature article, the “Altai Neanderthal” genome was sequenced from DNA extracted from a toe phalanx discovered in Denisova Cave in 2010. The archaeological layer within which the toe was found is located in the east gallery of the cave and is thought to be at least 50,000 years old. While the bone features traits commonly found in both Neanderthals and modern humans, the DNA found within shares a common ancestor with six previously published Neanderthal DNA sequences, providing adequate evidence that it indeed belongs to a Neanderthal.

The main finding of the report, which has been focused on by most media outlets, is a high level of inbreeding in the Altai Neanderthal. According to the published research, her parents were closely related enough to be either half-siblings who shared the same mother or of another close relation such as double first cousins, uncle and niece, or grandmother and grandson. While there has been a high level of discussion about whether inbreeding was common amongst the Altai Neanderthal population, no scientific evidence has surfaced which supports this theory. Inbreeding is more typical of small, isolated populations.

The toe phalanx genome was compared to several other hominin genomes, including the Denisovan genome sequence that was previously recorded from DNA extracted from a finger phalanx. The Denisovan finger, excavated in 2008, was found within the same archaeological layer as the Neanderthal toe. Other genomes used for comparison include those of several other Neanderthals and 25 present-day humans. Researchers were thus able to provide new estimates of population split times.

Their estimates suggest that the ancestors of modern humans split from both Neanderthals and Denisovans between approximately 553,000 and 589,000 years ago, while the Neanderthal and Denisovan populations seem to have split apart later, about 381,000 years ago.

According to the authors of the Nature article and of potentially greater interest is the fact that the population of the ancestors of modern humans began to increase over time after the split, while Neanderthals and Denisovans saw subsequent decreases in population size. This supports previous speculations that Neanderthal populations were small and stable or even declining at the height of the last glacial period.

The new genome sequences also support admixture theories previously suggested by researchers. Much controversy has surrounded the suggestion that archaic humans such as Neanderthals and Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of modern humans, especially amongst those who theorize that other hominin groups were violently eradicated by “blood-thirsty” Homo sapiens. Other earlier writers on the subject placed Neanderthals as direct ancestors of modern humans while more recent scholarly work has suggested a smaller percentage of Neanderthal genetic material in the Homo sapiens genome sequence.

In recent years, new research has strongly indicated that modern humans emerged and dispersed from Africa approximately 50,000 years ago, mixing with Neanderthals in the Middle East before venturing into Europe and Asia, with those anatomically-modern humans who passed into Asia mixing further with Denisovans in Oceania. If these archaic groups intermingled genetically, a newer, clearer picture of our ancestors can be understood, a picture that is far less grim than the violent images of conquest propounded by some analysts.

The Altai Neanderthal genome sequence shows that Neanderthal-derived DNA in all non-Africans is 1.5 to 2.1 percent, while Denisovan-derived DNA found in human inhabitants of Papua New Guinea and Australia is 3 to 6 percent. There are also small traces (0.5 percent) of Denisovan DNA in mainland Asian and Native American populations. Such evidence of archaic human gene flow into modern populations suggests that decreasing populations of Neanderthals and perhaps also Denisovans never became “extinct” but were merely subsumed by increasing numbers of modern humans.

Ultimately this data supports the theory that Neanderthals and Denisovans did interbreed with Homo sapiens and did produce fertile offspring.

Absolutely integral to an understanding of archaic humanity is consciousness of the fact that very much is still unknown to us. In fact, if all of the excavated hominin remains from which we derive our knowledge of our ancestors were gathered together into one collection, it would easily fit into the bed of a single pickup truck.

Several other lineages and archaic human populations are for now beyond our knowledge. For example, 2.7 to 5.8 percent of the Denisovan genome comes from an unknown source, possibly an archaic hominin group which diverged from other hominins around 1 million years ago. Therefore, our current understanding of archaic humans must remain pliable and open to new findings and interpretations of raw data.

Humans appear to have inherited some traits related to skin, hair & autoimmune diseases from Neandertal ancestors: here.

DNA study shows why Neanderthals and modern humans are so different: here.

A newly discovered hearth full of ash and charred bone in a cave in modern-day Israel hints that early humans sat around fires as early as 300,000 years ago — before Homo sapiens arose in Africa: here. Already earlier, Peking Man is said to have used fire.

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Prehistoric human ancestors on video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ancient Ancestors Come to Life

2 Jan 2014

See our ancient ancestors come to life through paleoartist John Gurche‘s realistic human likenesses for the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins. “The human story is really nothing short of the story of a little corner of the universe becoming aware of itself,” says Gurche.

VIDEOGRAPHERS: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo and Dominic Mann

EDITOR: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo

By Isaac Saul in the USA:

Artist Brings Our Prehistoric Ancestors To Life (VIDEO)

01/03/2014 3:21 pm EST

Ever wonder about the origins of those incredibly life-like busts of our prehistoric ancestors on display in natural history museums?

As it turns out, the renderings are the handiwork of a handful of highly skilled paleo-artists around the world — including John Gurche, featured in the video above. …

Gurche, 62, spent four years sculpting the 15 detailed busts of human ancestors now on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In addition to many sculptures, he’s also produced a book, “Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins.”

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Ice age hyena coprolite research in the Netherlands


This video is called Extinct hyenas tribute.

At the moment, in Naturalis museum in Leiden in the Netherlands, there is research about hyenas, living about 35,000 years ago in what is now the North Sea, but was land then.

The research involves investigating fossil hyena excrement, called coprolites, with scanners. The coprolites indicate what the hyenas ate.

Among the finds so far in the coprolites is an Alpine marmot piece of bone. And a burying beetle shield. Scientists are still investigating which beetle species in the Nicrophorus genus that was. Had the beetle, like the hyena, been attracted by a dead mammoth?

The researchers found pollen of various plants in the coprolites as well. Mainly pollen of marsh plants, indicating that the hyenas lived in a wetland environment.

La Brea tar pits, Los Angeles, USA fossils research continues


This video from the USA says about itself:

100 Years of Secrets From the La Brea Tar Pits

28 Oct 2013

Scientists are still digging for Ice Age fossils in the heart of Los Angeles after a century of discoveries. So much has been uncovered from the La Brea Tar Pits that crews have a backlog of bones to clean and sort through.

Aboriginal Australians suffered from Ice Age


This video is called Discovery Channel, Prehistoric Predators of the Past, 1 of 3. What Killed the Mega Beasts part 1.

From Australian Geographic:

Ice Age struck indigenous Australians hard

By: Wes Judd

September 27, 2013

Population numbers plummeted due to harsh conditions at the peak of the last Ice Age, says a new study.

A NEW STUDY HAS revealed how indigenous Australians coped with the last Ice Age, roughly 20,000 years ago.

Researchers say that when the climate cooled dramatically, Aboriginal groups sought refuge in well-watered areas, such as along rivers, and populations were condensed into small habitable areas.

Professor Sean Ulm, lead author of the research at James Cook University in Townsville, says the vast majority of Australia was simply uninhabitable at this time. “Forests disappeared, animals went extinct; major areas of Australia would have been deprived of surface water.”

How humans coped with the last Ice Age

To understand how Aboriginal people responded to the conditions, a team of experts from Australia, England, and Canada used the radiocarbon dates of thousands of archaeological sites to study the distribution of people across the landscape over time.

The findings, published recently in The Journal of Archaeological Science, suggest that about 21,000 years ago, almost all people in modern-day Australia migrated into smaller areas, abandoning as much as 80 per cent of the continent.

“In Lawn Hill Gorge in northwestern Queensland, at the coldest point of the last glacial period, all of the stone, raw materials and food remains are exclusively from the Gorge area,” says Sean. “This indicated very limited or no use of the surrounding broader landscape.”

This massive consolidation had drastic effects on the population as well. “There was likely a birth rate decline of over 60 per cent,” says Alan Williams, a PhD student at the Australian Nation University who worked on the study. “It would have been very ugly.”

Can humans cope with climate change?

Sean says the next step would ideally be to study the resulting cultural shifts, however, this may prove to be difficult given that close to one third of what was Australia at the time of the Ice Age is now underwater. “By 10,000 years ago, sea levels were visibly rising, sometimes on a daily basis,” says Sean.

Extreme changes in the environment continued for thousands of years, and Aboriginal life readjusted in the process. Sean says this makes it unlikely that researchers will ever know the full societal ramifications of the Ice Age.

What the study does reveal, however, is that humans have withstood massive climate change on this continent in the past, and this might prove vital for preparing for future events.

“A lot of the current climate reports that we read about in Australia…their records only go back a couple of hundred years,” says Sean. “That’s a very short time span to base our model for future climate change on.”

Sean adds that, thanks to studies like this, archaeologists may soon have the potential to extend these data sets.

Prehistoric Canadian and Idaho animals research


This video says about itself:

7 March 2013

Scientists find a giant camel fossil in the Arctic.

Most of us know what a modern day camel looks like.

But around 3.5 million years ago, giant camels roamed the arctic forests, and today their remains have been found in Canada.

30 bone fragments were found in the tundra.

The remains were mummified, rather than fossilized, and had remnants of collagen proteins.

Protein analysis of the bones shows that the animal is related to present day camels.

Scientists have been aware of the fact that camels evolved in North America, but this is the northernmost latitude that evidence of ancient camels has been found.

Doctor Mike Buckley, an author of the study from the University of Manchester, said: “It suggests that many of the adaptations that we currently think of, in terms of camels being adapted to warm desert-like environments, could have actually originated through adaptation to quite the opposite extreme… cold, harsh environments.”

Some evolutionary traits that work well for both types of environments include flat feet for walking on sand and snow, and the camel’s hump, which stores fat to help the animal survive through harsh conditions.

The ancient camels were about 30 percent larger than modern day camels, and scientists think that they only had one hump.

So, these ancient camels are from the Pliocene epoch.

From the Seattle Times in the USA:

Friday, August 30, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Scientists, students study ancient camel tracks in NW

Tracks left in the earth tens of thousands of years ago by camels, llamas and wolves offer scientists a trove of information about prehistoric life in Southeast Idaho.

By MICHAEL H. O’DONNELL

Idaho State Journal

AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho — To the untrained eye, the tracks along the western shore of the reservoir look fresh — odd in shape, but recent.

The fact is they were made by an ancient North American camel some 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, and the trail of tracks contains a treasure trove of information for paleontologists like Mary Thompson of the Idaho Museum of Natural History on the Idaho State University Campus.

Thompson was beaming with excitement recently as a dozen ISU scientists and graduate students explored the trackways discovered along the edge of American Falls Reservoir this month.

Preserved tracks found in the hardened sands included those of camels, llamas and a large dire wolf or Canis dirus. All lived during the Pliocene epoch when the large lake above American Falls provided water for creatures who enjoyed a cooler climate and a forested Southeast Idaho.

Earlier this article said: “some 20,000 to 50,000 years ago”. Now, it says Pliocene. Both can’t be right at the same time. The Pliocene ended 2,5 million years ago. Camelops hesternus, the fossil camels discovered, became extinct about 11,000 years ago. So, they were Pleistocene animals; not Pliocene.

“Camels originated in North America, as did llamas,” Thompson said.

Animals like camels and llamas provided a food source for predators like the dire wolf. This ancient canine was about 5 feet long and weighed about 130 pounds — slightly smaller than today’s timber wolf.

Thompson said determining the origin of predator tracks is more difficult because there were so many during that time period. Ancient bears and coyotes shared territories with the North American lion and two types of saber-toothed tiger.

The llama tracks discovered by ISU’s team are Hemiauchenia macrocephala or “bigheaded llamas.” The camels are Camelops hesternus or “yesterday’s camel.”

“This is one of the top locations in the nation for Pliocene vertebrates,” Thompson said about the area upstream from American Falls. “It’s just behind the La Brea Tar Pits.”

The La Brea Tar Pits, like apparently the new discoveries, are from the Pleistocene, not the Pliocene. A paleontologist like Ms Thompson will certainly know that. Probably, the journalist misquoted her.

Her enthusiasm for the so-called “trackways” was shared by Robert Schlader, manager of the Idaho Virtual Lab at ISU’s museum. He was busy setting up sophisticated 3-D imaging equipment with two graduate students.

Schlader explained how the equipment uses lasers and a rotating mirror to create a three-dimensional image of the walkway.

“It’s essentially doing the same thing as policeman’s radar gun, except instead of measuring speed it measures distance,” Schlader said.

The grad students set up white balls along both sides of the walkway to serve as targets. Once the equipment has gathered all the data, Schlader will take it back to his lab and use it to create a virtual environment as it existed 20,000 or more years ago when the ancient animals were making tracks to the water’s edge.

“Our big goal today is to try to capture and document as much as possible of this,” Thompson said. “The trackways tell us a lot more about what the animals were doing,” Thompson said. “We’ll be at this for several days.”

And those several days of field work will translate into a more accurate glimpse of life in Southeast Idaho when a lava flow blocked the Snake River at American Falls and formed a large inland lake long, long before modern engineers did the same for irrigation.

Arctic seal fossil on Dutch beach


This video is about a harp seal pup.

Recently, Arthur Oosterbaan of Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands found a bone.

He found it on the beach of the Hors, the southern part of Texel. It was a fossil seal’s tibia. Probably, 10,000 to 100,000 years old; so, from the last Ice Age.

Then, much of what is now the North Sea was land. But some parts were sea, and seals lived there. Probably, the fossil bone belonged to a harp seal. This is an Arctic species now. However, in the Pleistocene age it was the most common North Sea seal.

In and around the North Sea, fossil bones of walruses, beluga whales and grey seals have been found as well.