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In 1959, Paul T. Walker , an American geologist, placed a handwritten note inside a bottle, sealed it and buried it under a pile of rocks at the edge of a glacier on Ward Hunt Island in Canada. Walker had no clue whether the bottle would ever be found, but the message inside contained simple instructions should that moment ever occur: Measure the distance from where the message was found to the edge of Ward Hunt Island's glacier.
That moment did come, 54 year later, when Dr. Warwick Vincent and Denis Sarrazin — scientists at Laval University's remote research station on the island — stumbled across the bottle in the summer of 2013. The two scientists carried out what were essentially Walker's last wishes — Walker died just a month after writing the message from sickness — and measured the distance from the bottle's resting place to the edge of the glacier.
What they found was shocking. When Walker had taken his measurements, in 1959, the bottle lay just 168 feet from the edge of the glacier. But now, in 2013, the site was 401 feet from the glacier's edge. Vincent and Sarrazin argue that 233 foot difference between the two distances shows the dramatic consequences of global warming in motion.
If finding extinct creatures is your thing, take a trip to Siberia, Russia, where the frozen cadavers of woolly mammoths just seem to keep popping up in the permafrost. The most promising find thus far was a one ton, 39,000-year-old female, dubbed "Yuka" found nearly intact in the Siberian wilderness.
Yuka's body was so well preserved that hair and tissue were still visible and scientists were able to draw vials of the animal's blood.
"We were really surprised to find mammoth blood and muscle tissue," Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University, told the Siberian Times. "It is the first time we managed to obtain mammoth blood. No one has ever seen before how the mammoth's blood flows."
Grigoriev surmised that the mammoth likely got stuck in a swamp and died because the lower half of Yuka's body was so well preserved by the surrounding permafrost. Parts of Yuka left exposed in the soil were eaten away over thousands of years, but still, the find is one for the ages.
Scientists in South Korea recently announced that, thanks to DNA from Yuka, they now have a "high chance" of cloning a mammoth, thus resurrecting the species from extinction, the Siberian Times reports. If that holds true, maybe it won't take a trip to Siberia to find a woolly mammoth after all.
The iceman cometh, or rather, he already came. Back in 1991, a hiking duo in the Ötztal Alps stumbled across the extremely well preserved remains of a man's body sticking out of the frozen terrain. At the time, the hikers thought the corpse might have been from a recently deceased climber lost to the treacherous mountainside. The two snapped a photo of the remains and trudged down the mountain to report their find.
Inclement weather stalled recovery attempts, but eventually, the mummified remains were removed from the mountainside. Soon thereafter, it became abundantly clear that the remains were not recent at all. After radiocarbon dating, scientists determined that the mummified man was actually more than 5,000 years old.
The discovery was the first of its kind. Never before had scientists recovered a completely intact corpse from that time period. After the discovery was announced, scientists dubbed the man Ötzi after the mountains that became his final resting place.
One French mountaineer found more than he bargained for on an ascent up Mont Blanc, when he stumbled across a metal box sticking out of Bossons Glacier. When the mountaineer opened the box he found rows of pouches, some marked "Made in India," packed full of around 100 precious gems — rubies, emeralds and sapphires. All told, the small box packed full of precious stones was worth an estimated $337,000, the Guardian reports.
Rather than taking the find and disappearing down the mountain never to be heard again, the mountaineer immediately sought out police at a nearby village. The jewels were then transferred to the mayor of the nearby village of Chamonix, France, and stored in a vault below the town hall while authorities tried to sort out the mystery of the jewels' origins.
What authorities did know, based on the "Made in India" labeling, was that the box full of jewels likely came from one of two Air India plane crashes that had taken place atop Mount Blanc decades ago. In 1950, a small prop-plane crashed atop the mountain, killing 48 en route to Geneva. Sixteen years later the pilot of a Boeing 707 bound for New York via Geneva and London, miscalculated the altitude of the flight and crashed into the summit of Mount Blanc, killing all 117 passengers and crew, the BBC reports.
The crash of the Boeing 707 left a crater on the side of the mountain, and pieces of the wreckage can still be found, tucked away in the farthest reaches of the mountain. In fact, individual articles from the plane crashes continue to be unearthed on the glacier, including the diplomatic mail bag pictured above that was recovered in 2012.
File this story under "things that seem like a terrible idea." Scientists recently resurrected a 30,000-year-old giant virus found in the permafrost in Kolyma in the far east of Russia. Scientists will tell you that the virus infects only single cellular organisms, or amoebas, and not humans or other animals, but that doesn't do much to assuage fears of an ancient viral outbreak.
The discovery opens up the possibility that mankind could discover more viruses, previously thought lost to humanity, locked deep within the earth. And those future finds just might not be limited to single cellular organisms.
"There is now a non-zero [not impossible] probability that the pathogenic microbes that bothered [ancient human populations] could be revived, and most likely infect us as well," study co-author Jean-Michel Claverie, a bioinformatics researcher at Aix-Marseille University in France, wrote in an email. "Those pathogens could be banal bacteria (curable with antibiotics) or resistant bacteria or nasty viruses. If they have been extinct for a long time, then our immune system is no longer prepared to respond to them."
Funerals in the Italian alp town of Peio are on the rise, only those being interred aren't of this day and age. Melting glaciers near the small alpine village continue to unveil remains and artifacts from soldiers who fought in the often forgotten "White War" staged in the mountains during World War I. During those times, soldiers from the Austria-Hungary empire battled with Italian troops for supremacy over the mountainous terrain.
Hundreds of thousands of soldiers are estimated to have died during the White War, many of whom were claimed by the extreme weather. Temperatures plummeted to 22 below, and avalanches, dubbed the "white death" by soldiers, swallowed companies whole. Many of the soldiers went unaccounted for, the Telegraph notes, their disappearance a solemn reminder of the rigors of war.
But now, nearly a century later, the remains of the lost soldiers have risen to the surface. In recent years, some 80 mummified bodies have risen to the surface of the melting glacier, the Telegraph reports. For instance, in 2004, a mountain guide stumbled across a grisly sight: three soldiers sticking out of a wall of ice upside down. Those remains were found around 12,000 feet above sea level near San Matteo, likely a gruesome side-effect of one of the last battles for the mountain in 1918.
Alaska's Mendenhall Glacier has been retreating for hundreds of years, but only in the past year or so has the encroaching glacier revealed a secret hidden below. Slowly, but surely, the ancient remains of a forest — branches, roots and all — have crept from beneath the ice, much to the bemusement of scientists.
Researchers at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) determined that the plant life, which astonishingly stands upright, is anywhere from 1,200 to 2,350 years old.
"There are a lot of them, and being in a growth position is exciting because we can see the outermost part of the tree and count back to see how old the tree was," UAS geology professor Cathy Connor told LiveScience. "Mostly, people find chunks of wood helter-skelter, but to see these intact upright is kind of cool."
The scientists hope that as the glacier continues to retreat it will reveal more of the ancient forest beneath. And that's a sad, but exciting reality. Since 2005, the Mendenhall Glacier has receded by an average of 170 feet per year, opening the possibility that in the very near future we might have an ancient national park on our hands.
Maybe no other story speaks to the volatility of glaciers than that of the more than 70 year recovery efforts of a 1952 U.S. Air Force plane crash that killed all 52 people onboard. The plane, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, crashed into Mount Gannett, leaving only twisted wreckage behind, according to Alaska Dispatch. Search crews quickly discovered the wreckage atop Colony Glacier, but in just days, the glacier had swallowed the debris from the crash and the bodies of the 52 souls aboard.
It seemed there would be no closure for the family members of those lost in the plane crash. That is, until June of 2012, when an Army National Guard helicopter on a training mission spotted plane debris peeking out of the crevasses of Colony Glacier, Alaska Dispatch reports. An investigative team was sent out, and wreckage recovery efforts began. Crews found parts of the plane and partial human remains, but eventually, yet again, the recovery efforts would be thwarted by the movement of the glacier.
Then, a year later, in the summer of 2013, the glacier once again revealed its keep, exposing more of the wreckage. Military search crews quickly descended on the area and recovered all that they could before the debris disappeared in the glacier's trenches.
The Alaska Dispatch reports that over the more than 70 years since the crash occurred, the plane's wreckage had moved an incredible 14 miles from the original 1952 crash site. Some of the debris had, no doubt, found its way to the bottom of Lake George, spit out by the receding, shifting glacier.
Melting snow on Norway's Lendbreen glacier provided a rare glimpse into Iron Age fashion when researchers discovered a finely woven tunic more than 6,500 feet above sea level in 2011. After two years of analysis, researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim determined the garment was made between 230 and 390 A.D., more than 1,500 years ago.
Discovery News reports that the style of the tunic was nearly identical to one from the same time period found more than 150 years earlier in Sweden, indicating a trend in fashion during the Iron Age. Lisa Bender Jørgensen told Discovery News that finding complete articles of clothing from this time period, like the one found here, is extremely rare, and "can be counted on the fingers of one hand."
But global warming, which is accelerating the melt of glaciers, especially in Norway, may increase the of such archeological finds.
“Due to global warming, rapid melting of snow patches and glaciers is taking place in the mountains of Norway as in other parts of the world, and hundreds of archeological finds emerge from the ice each year,” Marianne Vedeler, from the University of Oslo, Norway, wrote in her summary of the find in the journal of Antiquity.
originally posted by: thekaboose
originally posted by: gusdynamite
a reply to: nugget1
Dead things aren't considered cute unless there's something wrong with you.
But great thread S&F for you! Passed this one around the office
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