Category Archives: SOUTH AMERICA

Underwater robot finds shipwreck with treasure worth up to $17B

Underwater robot finds shipwreck with treasure worth up to $17B

Researchers have released new details about the discovery of a centuries-old shipwreck holding up to $17 billion worth of sunken treasure off the coast of Colombia. Just don’t ask them to mark the spot with an “X” on any map.

The Spanish galleon San Jose, often called the “Holy Grail of shipwrecks,” was found off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia in November 2015, using a specialized robot, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said.

WHOI scientists worked with the Colombian government and the Maritime Archeology Consultants group to find the wreck, although it took them some time to confirm that it was actually the San Jose.

MAC allowed the WHOI researchers to announce their role in the project this week, although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos previously tweeted about the shipwreck discovery in 2015.

The famed 64-gun, the three-mast vessel was sunk by a British ship in 1708, sending it to the bottom of the ocean with its cargo hold loaded full of gold, silver, and emeralds.

Its location has long been a mystery and subject of fascination, but in the end, it was a submersible robot – not a treasure-hunter – that found it.

Researchers first detected the ship on sonar and used a remote submersible, dubbed the REMUS 6000, to investigate it further.

The REMUS 6000 captured a slew of images showing the San Jose to be mostly buried in sediment, at a spot some 600 meters below the surface.

Researchers say they knew it was the San Jose when they saw photos of its distinctive bronze cannons, which are engraved with dolphin designs.

“With the camera images from the lower altitude missions, we were able to see new details in the wreckage and the resolution was good enough to make out the decorative carving on the cannons,” expedition leader Mike Purcell, a WHOI engineer, said in a news release. “MAC’s lead archaeologist, Roger Dooley, interpreted the images and confirmed that San Jose had finally been found.”

Bronze cannons discovered the Remus 6000 at the bottom Caribbean Sea

The exact location of the wreck remains a Colombian state secret.

Colombia says it will set up a museum to display artifacts from the wreck. However, don’t expect to see a pile of sunken treasure in that museum anytime soon.

The fate of San Jose’s treasure remains unclear, as there have been several lawsuits in recent decades over who has a claim to it.

Every piece of that treasure will remain on the seafloor, at least until the legal battle is won.

Ice Age Graveyard Discovered Containing 22 Giant Sloths Preserved In Their Own Feces

Ice Age Graveyard Discovered Containing 22 Giant Sloths Preserved In Their Own Feces

A surprising find was made in Ecuador by paleontologists – a group of giant Ice Age sloths.

The 22 sloths of elephants, from the ice age, were found as fossilized. Paleontologists made the grand discovery preserved in asphalt during a dig at the Tanque Loma site in the Santa Elena peninsula, western Ecuador.

The fossils of the Panamerican ground sloths, known as Eremotherium laurillardi, were spotted during this dig.

Paleontologists excavating the site reported stumbled-upon bones belonging to 15 adults, five juveniles, and two newborns or foetuses of the mammoth creatures.

Experts believe these creatures roamed the Earth in modern-day Ecuador some 20,000 years ago.

Elephant-like in size, the sloths may have weighed several tonnes. The ancient animals also boasted the impressive ability to walk on two legs. This is unlike their current incarnations who walk the Earth today.

Experts unearth fossilised remains of 22 elephant-sized sloths
 Elephant-like in size, the sloths may have weighed several tonnes

Palaeontologist Jose Luis Roman-Carrion of the National Polytechnic University in Ecuador said: “The Tanque Loma site presents a rare accumulation of fossils that provides very relevant data.

“We now know that the Eremotherium lived in groups and had parental behaviour.”

The fossils were likely so well preserved because they had been coated in seeping asphalt. The mammoth sloths were discovered alongside an ancient horse, a deer, an armadillo-like pampathere, and an elephant-like gomphothere.

Experts remain unable to determine the exact cause of death simply by looking at the fossilized bones. However, researchers believe the deaths may have resulted from drought or illness caused by drinking water contaminated with their own faeces.

A lifesize depiction of mammoths stuck in tar is on display at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

The University of California, Los Angeles palaeontologist Dr Emily Lindsey, led the study of the sloth fossils.

Dr. Lindsey explained to Gizmodo: “For years, everyone has thought of the classic scenario at the La Brea Tar Pits, where a large herbivore would get stuck in asphalt, then a bunch of carnivores would be attracted to the trapped animal and get stuck.

“Nothing got stuck at Tanque Loma! The animals died in an aquatic setting like many other fossil sites, and the bones just fortuitously got preserved by seeping asphalt.”

The news arrives almost exactly two years after a similarly amazing ancient sloth discovery. A fossilised human footprint was found nestled inside a giant sloth footprint in April 2018.

Experts now believe the series of surprisingly well-preserved set of tracks describe the story of an ancient sloth hunt.

This was because inside the outline of the sloth’s 20-inch-long foot was a human footprint. There were at least 10 of these tracks, all lined-up in a row.

Professor Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University said in a statement: “It slowly dawned on me what was happening.

“Thousands of years ago, a ground sloth had walked along with this site, and a person had followed it, carefully matching its every step.

The remains of a giant sloth depicted climbing a tree at the Natural History Museum in London.

Mysterious Giant Stone Sculpture of Aramu muru north of Chucuito Peru

Mysterious Giant Stone Sculpture of Aramu muru north of Chucuito Peru

Many people here only see an unfinished work by ancient masons. Nevertheless, other local legends tell something else — Aramu Muru is called a gateway to a realm of spirit.

It is unclear when and who made Aramu Muru – but presumably before the Incas. No archaeological research has been done here.

This massive stone gateway is located in the uncommon location of Hayu Marca Stone Forest (‘the city of the Goods’), on the banks of Lake Titicaca. Giant crests of red granite rise from the dry soil of Altiplano here. Erosion processes have formed natural bridges, weird grottoes, and natural sculptures. Often it is hard to tell whether some weird shapes have been formed by nature or by humans.

Mysterious giant stone sculpture of Aramu Muru, north of Chucuito, Peru

Aramu Muru is cut in the side of one such granite crest. This portal is 7 m high and 7 m wide, with a “T” shaped alcove in the bottom middle. The surface of the portal is polished. Alcove is some 2 m high – one man can fit into it. In the center of the alcove is a smaller depression.

On the other side of the cliff in earlier times was located a tunnel, which is blocked now with stones to prevent mishaps with children. Some believe that this tunnel was going to Tiahuanaco.

Similar Monuments

It seems – there are no similar landmarks in the Americas. Often there is noted that Aramu Muru is similar to the Sun Gate in the nearby Tiwanaku – but Wondermondo does not see many similarities.

Gate of the Sun

Aramu Muru has some principal similarities to the unfinished rock-cut architecture in India. Son Bhandar Caves (Bihar) have an unfinished portal inside the rock-cut cave. Local legends there tell about incredible riches inside.

Son Bhandar Caves, India.

Local tourist guide Jose Luis Delgado Mamani had unusual dreams in the 1990s. He saw a weird, red mountain with a gate cut in it. The door of this portal was open and blue, shimmering light was shining out of it.

Mamani was surprised to find mountains similar to the ones in his dream. He asked the local old men whether there are some gates cut in these cliffs – and, yes, they confirmed – there is a gate. Some tried to dissuade Mamani from going there – “this is the true gate to the hell”.

When Mamani reached the gate, he almost passed out from excitement – this was the site that he saw in his dreams. This story made into local newspapers and somewhat later – into the international press. The old, exotic story about Aramu Muru became popular again.

Legend about Aramu Maru

According to a local legend (maybe – a bit embellished by some contemporary mystics), this gate leads to the spirit world or even – to the world of gods.

Portal for the Immortals

The portal was made in the distant past. In those times the great heroes could pass the portal and join the pantheon of gods. Sometimes though these gods return to the land through these gates “to inspect all the lands in the kingdom”.

Golden Discs 

Legends tell that the gate was open for a while in the 16th century. Back then Spanish Conquistadors were looting the immense treasures in Cusco city and slaughtering local people.

In the most important Inca temple – in Coricancha temple (now the Church of Santo Domingo stands there) – were located especially valuable relics – the golden discs.

According to the legend, these discs were given by gods to Inca. Discs had powerful healing abilities. Two of these discs were seized by Spaniards, but the third one – the largest – disappeared without a trace.

Escape from Cusco to… The Otherworld

A priest of Coricancha temple – Aramu Muru – managed to escape from the deadly havoc in Cusco. He took the large golden disc with him.

Aramu Muru reached the Hayu Marca hills and hid there for a while. He stumbled on Inca priests – guardians of the portal and when the guardians saw the golden disc, there was arranged a special ritual at the gate.

This secret ritual opened the giant portal and blue light was shining from it. Aramu Muru entered the portal and has never been seen again. The gate got his name.

An archeologist and his team of nine students have been arrested in Peru

A Team of Archeologists Has Been Arrested in Peru for Violating Lockdown to Excavate Pre-Columbian Tombs

In Peru, an archeologist and his team of nine students were arrested for excavating on a pre-Colombian cemetery, following the national lock-up of that nation.

The group led by archeologist Pieter van Dalen was caught exploring during a state of emergency on Sunday 4 April at the Macatón Cemetery in the town of Huaral.

The team from the Regional Mayor of San Marcos University was taken into custody for breaking Peru’s extreme lock-down laws, despite claiming that they merely protected the national heritage left exposed to them in compliance with the Ministry of Culture.

Ruins in Hural in the Peruvian Andes.

The Peruvian minister of culture, Sonia Guillén, who is herself an archeologist, told local news outlet Canal N that she “deplores” the group’s actions in a time of national emergency. “It is regrettable and shameful,” Guillén said.

The archeological team had been given a permit to excavate at the archeological site about 50 miles north of the capital city of Lima, but the ministry of culture says in a statement that the permit had been “suspended” as a result of the current confinement period to protect public health, calling the subsequent breach an “irresponsible and unjustified action.”

“We call on the general population to respect all government provisions and especially to show commitment and solidarity with others,” the ministry says. 

Since the lockdown was imposed on March 16, more than 51,000 people have been arrested for flouting the rules, the Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra said on Monday.

The country has so far recorded nearly 3,000 cases of the virus and more than 100 deaths since it first broke out there in March.

Image courtesy the Ministerio de Cultura del Perú on Facebook

Van Dalen defended himself to the archeology magazine Lima Gris, explaining that when the state of emergency was declared, many tombs remained open, leaving valuable funerary items exposed to the elements or thefts.

In the interview, Van Dalen also claimed that the ministry of culture was aware that the team was continuing to work on the site in order to protect national heritage.

The archeologist says that he was left “between a rock and a hard place” because he signed a letter taking responsibility for any damage to the site between February and October 2020.

“If any of the people who travel through the archeological zone every day take any of these materials or destroy them, the ministry of culture will denounce me for the destruction of cultural heritage,” he said, adding that “the ministry of culture has not developed any protocol to safeguard these materials.”