Category Archives: U.S.A

Century-Old Little Girl Found In Coffin Under San Francisco Home Identified

Century-Old Little Girl Found In Coffin Under San Francisco Home Identified

Researchers announced that the 19th-century body of a little girl found last year in a small metal casket under a San Francisco home was identified. The girl was Edith Howard Cook, two-year-old, who died on October 13, 1876, six weeks short of her third birthday, said the charity Garden of Innocence.

Elissa Davey, a genealogist and founder of the Garden of Innocence Project, last year arranged a reburial of the girl in Colma and began her search to identify the remains.

Scientists caught a break after hundreds of hours trying to find Edith’s identity when they discovered a map of the old cemetery at a University of California, Berkeley library, and matched it to a plot where her parents, Horatio Cook and Edith Scooffy, were once buried.

Researchers looked for living descendants once they had the family name, one of whom volunteered his DNA for research. Marin County resident Peter Cook – Edith’s grandnephew – was a match for DNA taken from strands of her hair.

UC Davis Professor Jelmer Eerkens, who helped with the DNA testing, told KTVU that Edith died of marasmus, which is severe undernourishment.

‘It’s likely she was sick with some disease and at some point her immune system couldn’t combat the disease and probably went into coma and passed away,’ he said. 

Edith’s remains, found by construction workers last May, were apparently left behind when about 30,000 people originally buried in San Francisco’s Odd Fellows Cemetery in the Richmond District were moved in the 1920s to Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma
After hundreds of hours trying to find Edith’s identity, researchers caught a break when they found a map of the old cemetery at a library and matched it to a plot where her parents, Horatio Cook and Edith Scooffy, were once buried. Pictured is her tiny casket

The girl’s well-off family gave her an ornate burial. She was clothed in a white christening dress and ankle-high boots.  Tiny purple flowers were woven into her hair and she held a purple Nightshade flower in her right hand. 

Roses, eucalyptus leaves and baby’s breath were placed inside the coffin, according to the Garden of Innocence report.

Edith’s father was a businessman, the report said. 

Her maternal grandfather was an original member of the Society of California Pioneers, which is an organization founded by California residents who arrived before 1850.

When the child was initially discovered, she was named Miranda Eve, until she was finally identified. During a reburial service last May, people from all over California came to pay their respects to Edith, whose blonde hair and skin were still perfectly preserved. 

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic based fraternal organization, dressed to the nines to carry the casket to its resting place.  Four men lowered a new, cherry-wood casket into the earth as approximately 100 mourners threw flowers and petals on top.

Speakers played ‘A Trumpeter’s Lullaby’ during the 10am memorial.  Michael Dunn, from the Garden of Innocence, said it was important they buried Edith because she’d been forgotten for so long.

‘She was forgotten and overlooked for more than 100 years, that ends today,’ Dunn said last year. 

Garden of Innocence charity Ellisa Davey has been helping to bury the bodies of unidentified children in California for nearly 20 years. Once the child’s body was found, Davey got in touch with homeowner Ericka Karner.

During the reburial service last May, people from all over California came to pay their respects to Edith, whose blonde hair and skin were still perfectly preserved
Four men lowered a new, cherry-wood casket into the earth as approximately 100 mourners threw flowers and petals on top. Speakers played ‘A Trumpeter’s Lullaby’ during the 10 am memorial.
Several people dropped handfuls of rose petals into little Edith’s grave during the reburial last May

Davey then planned for Miranda’s reburial. ‘It was tough, very tough. But she is not just our child. She is everyone’s,’ she said. 

All materials used in the funeral, including the casket, were donated. 

Her headstone, in the shape of a heart, reads: ‘Miranda Eve. The Child Loved Around The World. If no one grieves, No one will remember!’  

The back was made flat in case her real name was discovered. Now, since she is known as Edith, her name will be etched into the back. Construction workers were remodeling Karner’s childhood home in the Richmond District when they hit the lead and bronze coffin buried underneath the concrete garage. 

The three-foot casket’s two windows revealed Edith’s perfectly preserved skin and long blonde hair. Construction worker Kevin Boylan told KTVU at the time: ‘All the hair was still there. The nails were there. There were flowers – roses, still on the child’s body. It was a sight to see.’ 

There were no markings on the purple velvet-lined coffin to identify the child after she was discovered on May 9, 2016.

Karner was soon surprised to find out from the medical examiner’s office that the child had become her responsibility. The city refused to take custody of Edith, and the problems continued when Karner tried to have the girl reburied. Karner was told she needed a death certificate to obtain a burial permit for the girl. A Colma undertaker was willing to take the body – for a cool $7,000. 

Construction workers were remodeling Ericka Karner’s childhood home (pictured) in the Richmond District when they made the discovery
It is believed the girl was one of the 30,000 people who were buried in the city’s Odd Fellows Cemetery, which was shut in 1890. The bodies were moved to allow for redevelopment

An East Bay archaeological company’s price was even steeper at $22,000. 

Meanwhile, Edith’s body was deteriorating inside her coffin in Karner’s backyard because the seal was broken after the coroner’s superior instructed him to open the casket.

‘It didn’t seem right,’ Karner told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. ‘The city decided to move all these bodies 100 years ago, and they should stand behind their decision.’ 

City Hall finally put Karner in touch with someone who could help, connecting her to the Garden of Innocence. 

That’s when Davey, who was able to secure the funds needed to have the coffin picked up and temporarily stored in a mortuary refrigerator in Fresno, said they needed to do the ‘right thing’.

‘That girl was somebody’s child,’ she said. ‘We had to pick her up.’ 

It was obvious to Davey that Miranda’s parents loved her very much. 

‘Just by looking at the way they dressed her,’ she wrote. ‘Their sorrow was great. We will love her too.’   

Davey has been saving forgotten children since 1998, when she read a story about a baby boy who died after he was dumped in a trash can at a college campus.

A month later, the boy was still on her mind. She called up the county coroner, who told her the boy was headed for an unmarked grave if he was not claimed. 

Davey asked what she could do and the coroner replied she could lay claim to the boy, as long as she proved to him she had a ‘dignified place’ to lay the child to rest, according to Inside Edition. 

Since that day, Davey and Garden of Innocence has provided memorial services to nearly 300 unclaimed children.  The children are all given names before they are buried with a blanket, soft toy and personalized poem in a wooden casket fitted with lace, made by the Boy Scouts. Services are sometimes attended by up to 300 people, including military members, policemen and even parents who have lost children of their own. 

‘We have become a place where people find closure,’ Davey said.

And it is closure Davey wanted and received for little Edith.

‘The day the dinosaurs died’: Fossilized snapshot of mass death found on North Dakota ranch

‘The day the dinosaurs died’: Fossilized snapshot of mass death found on North Dakota ranch

A fossilised snapshot of the day about 66 million years ago when an asteroid hit Earth, fire rained from the sky and the ground shook far worse than any current earthquake, is captured in new studies. It was the day that almost all life on Earth, including dinosaurs, went extinct.

The fossil discoveries add weight to the theories that a swathe of lifeforms on Earth were wiped out after an asteroid hit.

Fossil evidence discovered in Tanis, North Dakota, was revealed by the researchers, which they said dated back to the day the fatal asteroid hit, including fish with hot glass beads clogged in their gills from flaming debris that showered back on Earth.

According to a paper published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the fossilised fish graveyard reveals the sea creatures died within the first minutes or hours after the impact of the asteroid.

The researchers also reported the discovery of charred trees, evidence of an inland tsunami and melted amber.

The main author of the article, Robert DePalma, is curator of palaeontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History in Florida and a doctoral student at the University of Kansas.

He told the University of Berkeley that the killing field he examined was the result of the meteor impact, which marked the end of the Cretaceous Period, also known as the KT boundary, and ended much of life on Earth.

A private fossil collector alerted Mr DePalma to the Hell Creek site in 2012.

“This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the KT boundary,” Mr DePalma said. Mr DePalma was first alerted to the site by a private collector in 2012.

Purdue University geophysicist and impact expert Jay Melosh, who wasn’t part of the research but edited the paper released on Friday, called it the field’s “discovery of the century”. “This is the death blow preserved at one particular site. This is just spectacular,” he said

Separately, University of Amsterdam’s Jan Smit disclosed that he and his colleagues even found dinosaur footsteps from just before their demise.

Dr Smit said the footprints — one from a plant-eating hadrosaur and the other of a meat eater, maybe a small Tyrannosaurus Rex — is “definite proof that the dinosaurs were alive and kicking at the time of impact … They were running around, chasing each other” when they were swamped.

But other experts said that while some of Mr DePalma’s work is fascinating, they have some serious concerns about the research, including the lack of access to this specific Hell Creek Formation fossil site for outside scientists.

Hell Creek — which spans Montana, both Dakotas and Wyoming — is a fossil treasure trove that includes numerous types of dinosaurs, mammals, reptiles and fish trapped in clay and stone from 65 to 70 million years ago.

Kirk Johnson, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who also has studied the Hell Creek area for 38 years, said that the work on the fish, the glass and trees “demonstrates some of the details of what happened on the day”.

‘The day the dinosaurs died’: Fossilized snapshot of mass death found on North Dakota ranch
Fish form some of the different types of life that the Hell’s Creek fossil site preserved.

“That’s all quite interesting and very valid stuff,” he said. But Dr Johnson said that because there is restricted access to the site, other scientists can’t confirm the research. Dr Smit said the restrictions were to protect the site from poachers.

Dr Johnson also raised concerns about claims made by the main author, Mr DePalma, that appeared in a New Yorker magazine article published on Friday but not in the scientific paper.

However, when asked about concerns over site access, Mr DePalma told the ABC that “other researchers not on the original author list” had already been granted access to the site on multiple occasions.

“It is a fabulous and important opportunity for such collaborations, and it is essentially no different than any other major site under the custodianship of institutions other than ours,” he said.

For decades, the massive asteroid crash that caused the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has been considered the likely cause of the mass extinction. But some scientists have insisted that massive volcanic activity played a role.

Dr Johnson and Dr Melosh said this helps prove the asteroid crash case. There were only a few dinosaur fossils from that time, but the footsteps are most convincing, Dr Smit said. There was more than dinosaurs, he said.

The site includes ant nests, wasp nests, fragile preserved leaves and fish that were caught in the act of dying. He said that soon after fish die they get swollen bellies and these fossils did not show swelling.

Researchers said that the confluence of tree trunk and fish fossils point to one major extinction event.

The researchers said the inland tsunami points to a massive earthquake generated by the asteroid crash, somewhere between a magnitude 10 and 11 — stronger than the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake, found to be a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Purdue’s Dr Melosh said as he read the study, he kept saying “wow, wow, what a discovery”. The details coming out of this are “mind-blowing,” he said.

Oldest Fossil Human Footprints In North America Confirmed

Oldest Fossil Human Footprints In North America Confirmed

New research reaffirms that human footprints found in White Sands National Park, NM, date to the Last Glacial Maximum, placing humans in North America thousands of years earlier than once thought.

In September 2021, scientists announced that ancient human footprints discovered in White Sands National Park were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old.

This discovery pushed the known date of human presence in North America back by thousands of years and implied that early inhabitants and megafauna co-existed for several millennia before the terminal Pleistocene extinction event.

Fossil human footprints discovered in White Sands, New Mexico likely date back to between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago, according to scientific evidence.

In a follow-up study, researchers used two new independent approaches to date the footprints, both of which resulted in the same age range as the original estimate.

The 2021 results began a global conversation that sparked public imagination and incited dissenting commentary throughout the scientific community as to the accuracy of the ages.

“The immediate reaction in some circles of the archeological community was that the accuracy of our dating was insufficient to make the extraordinary claim that humans were present in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum.

But our targeted methodology in this current research really paid off,” said Jeff Pigati, USGS research geologist and co-lead author of a newly published study that confirms the age of the White Sands footprints.

The controversy centered on the accuracy of the original ages, which were obtained by radiocarbon dating. The age of the White Sands footprints was initially determined by dating seeds of the common aquatic plant Ruppia cirrhosa that were found in the fossilized impressions.

However aquatic plants can acquire carbon from dissolved carbon atoms in the water rather than ambient air, which can potentially cause the measured ages to be too old.

“Even as the original work was being published, we were forging ahead to test our results with multiple lines of evidence,” said Kathleen Springer, USGS research geologist and co-lead author on the current Science paper.

“We were confident in our original ages, as well as the strong geologic, hydrologic, and stratigraphic evidence, but we knew that independent chronologic control was critical.”

For their follow-up study, the researchers focused on radiocarbon dating of conifer pollen, because it comes from terrestrial plants and therefore avoids potential issues that arise when dating aquatic plants like Ruppia.

The researchers used painstaking procedures to isolate approximately 75,000 pollen grains for each sample they dated. Importantly, the pollen samples were collected from the exact same layers as the original seeds, so a direct comparison could be made. In each case, the pollen age was statistically identical to the corresponding seed age.

“Pollen samples also helped us understand the broader environmental context at the time the footprints were made,” said David Wahl, USGS research geographer and a co-author on the current Science article.

This Oct. 2023 photo made available by the National Park Service shows White Sands National Park Resource Program Manager, David Bustos at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

“The pollen in the samples came from plants typically found in cold and wet glacial conditions, in stark contrast with pollen from the modern playa which reflects the desert vegetation found there today.”

These fossilized human footprints at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico are 21,000 to 23,000 years old.
Oldest Fossil Human Footprints In North America Confirmed
Fossilized footprints in White Sands National Park.
A single human footprint at the site.

In addition to the pollen samples, the team used a different type of dating called optically stimulated luminescence, which dates the last time quartz grains were exposed to sunlight.

Using this method, they found that quartz samples collected within the footprint-bearing layers had a minimum age of ~21,500 years, providing further support to the radiocarbon results.

With three separate lines of evidence pointing to the same approximate age, it is highly unlikely that they are all incorrect or biased and, taken together, provide strong support for the 21,000 to 23,000-year age range for the footprints.

The research team included scientists from the USGS, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the National Park Service, and academic institutions. Their continued studies at White Sands focus on the environmental conditions that allowed people to thrive in southern New Mexico during the Last Glacial Maximum and are supported by the Climate Research and Development Program | U.S. Geological Survey and USGS-NPS Natural Resources Protection Program.

Enormous Skull Found in Alaska May Belong to the Legendary King Bear of Inuit Mythology

Enormous Skull Found in Alaska May Belong to the Legendary King Bear of Inuit Mythology

An enormous, elongated polar bear skull emerged in 2014 from an eroding archaeological site southwest of Utqiaġvik in Alaska. Experts claim that it is quite different from most modern polar bear skulls and reassure that it is one of the biggest polar bear skulls ever found.

Inuvialuit Hunters and the “Weasel Bear”

Inuvialuit have been hunting polar bears – nanuq – in Canada’s Western Arctic for many decades. Passing knowledge and understanding of polar bear hunting from one generation to the next, based on experience, is the very foundation of Inuvialuit wisdom and tradition.

A polar bear.

Inuvialuit hunters have seen hundreds of bears during their lifetime and have taken high risks, since polar bear hunting is an extremely dangerous endeavor. However, their passion and need for survival doesn’t leave them many other choices.

If you get a chance to be around them, you will definitely hear them talking about “tiriarnaq” or “tigiaqpak” (meaning weasel bear), an incredibly unique polar bear that is enormous, narrow-bodied and moves fast like a demon.

Oral history and traditional knowledge in Inuit culture talks about “weasel” or “king” bears, and the huge, fully intact and unusually shaped polar bear skull that emerged in 2014 from an eroding archaeological site near Utqiaġvik has added more fuel to the fire.

Photo of 2014 excavations at the Walakpa site near Utqiaġvik, Alaska.

One of the Biggest and Most Distinct Polar Bear Skulls Ever Found

According to Anne Jensen, an Utqiaġvik-based archaeologist and leader of the excavation and research programs in the region, this is one of the biggest polar bear skulls ever found, and it appears to be different from most modern polar bear skulls. It is slender, elongated in the back and has uncommon structural features around the nasal and other areas.

“It looks different from your average polar bear,” said Anne Jensen , and added that after radiocarbon dating she and her colleagues estimate that the big bear skull comes from the period between the years 670 and 800 AD.

Despite looking different, scientifically it’s not determined yet what makes this skull differ from other found polar bear skulls and genetic testing is needed at this point to provide the scientists with more details.

“It could have been a member of a subspecies or a member of a different “race” in genetic terms — similar to the varying breeds that are found among dogs — or possibly something else entirely,” said Jensen as reports.

The large, unusually shaped polar bear skull [left] was found at the Walakpa site near Utqiaġvik, Alaska.

The Skull is Just One of the Many Newly Found Treasures

Even though the majority of the scientific world has focused almost entirely on the curiously enormous polar bear skull, the excavation of the now-eroding site, which is called Walakpa, has been successful in spotting a number of other archaeological treasures.

The excavation of the site uncovered another first for Alaska, four mummified seals, naturally preserved in an old ice cellar. Jensen’s team was able to recover one of them last summer, an adult female that was named Patou. 

Jensen said , “The excavated seal was much more modern than the polar-bear skull, dating back to only the mid-1940s. Still, it and the other seals amounted to a startling find: They are the only mummified seals ever discovered outside of Antarctica’s Dry Valley.”

A mummified seal, named “Patou”, found during excavations at an eroding bluff at the Walakpa site last summer.

Jensen also expressed her satisfaction with the new finds, since she was one of the many people who believed the Walakpa site had already been thoroughly excavated back in the late 1960’s, when Smithsonian anthropologist Dennis Stanford excavated the area for the first time.

As she says, “Everyone had the opinion — I was one of them — that he had pretty well excavated the site and there was nothing left to be done.”

Finally, the closed-up site was also considered to be intact and pretty much safe from erosion and thaw, which wasn’t the case at all – as Jensen and her colleagues told adn.

A panoramic image showing erosion at the Walakpa site

‘Lost’ 1,500-year-old Teotihuacan village discovered in the heart of Mexico City

‘Lost’ 1,500-year-old Teotihuacan village discovered in the heart of Mexico City

Archeologists have unearthed the lost remains of a Teotihuacan village, including human burials, in the heart of Mexico City.

'Lost' 1,500-year-old Teotihuacan village discovered in the heart of Mexico City
Archeologists discovered three human burials in the remains of the lost village.

Ceramics found scattered around the site, which is located 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) northwest of the city’s historical center, indicate the village dates from around A.D. 450 to 650 and may have housed a community of artisans and craftspeople.

“The finding was surprising,” said Juan Carlos Campos-Varela, an archaeologist at Mexico’s National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) Directorate of Archeological Salvage, who co-led the dig.

“It shows that 1,300 years ago, the islets inside Lake Texcoco, on which Mexico City was founded [after the lake was drained], already supported a permanent population that took advantage of the resources of the lake environment,” he told Live Science in an email.

The newly excavated settlement may have formed during the “ruralization” of Teotihuacan, an ancient metropolis that flourished in the highlands of what is now central Mexico between A.D. 100 and 650, Campos-Varela said.

The village is located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Teotihuacan and may have been one of several small towns that supported themselves through subsistence farming and fishing as the ancient city reached its zenith.

These settlements maintained commercial ties to Teotihuacan, and the new discoveries shed light on the role these settlements played in the city’s supply network, Campos-Varela said.

“The discovery is rare because it occurred in a fully urbanized context where the possibility of finding archeological evidence associated with the Teotihuacan culture was very low,” he added.

Gifted craftspeople

Archeologist Francisco González Rul discovered the first clues to this village’s existence in the 1960s, during construction works in the Mexican capital. Based on the ceramics he unearthed, González Rul suggested at the time that the inhabitants were self-reliant fishers and gatherers. The new excavations confirmed this.

Several previously unseen architectural structures—including post holes, flooring, channels, and an artesian well — as well as ceramics have come to light. The excavation also unearthed three human burials containing the skeletons of two adults and a child.

Teotihuacan was an ancient metropolis that flourished in the highlands of what is now central Mexico.

Teotihuacan ceramics are categorized into phases, according to a 2016 study in the journal PLOS One. The newfound ceramics displayed features that correspond to the Xolalpan (A.D. 350 to 550) and Metepec (A.D. 550 to 600) phases in the 2016 study, which enabled the researchers to date the remains of the village and its inhabitants. 

The Teotihuacans were gifted artists and craftspeople, said Michael Smith, a professor of archeology and director of the Teotihuacan Research Laboratory at Arizona State University. “To decorate the walls of their houses and temples, the Teotihuacanos used the same fresco technique used by Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel,” Smith told Live Science in an email. “They also used the fresco technique on ceramic vessels.”

The ceramics could reveal important information about trade with Teotihuacan through chemical analysis, Smith said. 

Archeologists have concluded the excavations and are now analyzing the discovered materials and bones. Much of Teotihuacan’s sprawling architecture remains buried, but the site is largely unaffected by modern construction and will eventually be unearthed in its entirety, Arizona State University said.

Who Craved the Giant Handprints in the White Mountain Petroglyphs, Wyoming?

Who Craved the Giant Handprints in the White Mountain Petroglyphs, Wyoming?

We are not in total darkness about how our ancient ancestors lived their lives thousands of years ago. One reason for this is that they etched their daily lives, including struggles, celebrations, fears, or rituals, on rocks, stones, and caves that we can see even today. These illustrations, like the White Mountain Petroglyphs, are like a historical legacy that silently tells us stories of their lives.

The White Mountain Petroglyphs are a powerful testimony to the lives of the Native American tribes who lived there between 200 and 1,000 years ago.

Apart from hundreds of carved figures in the area, there are giant handprints that look like someone has scooped a part of the mountain and let it solidify. These mysterious handprints are perhaps one of the most captivating things to see if you ever visit the remote White Mountains site.

Where can you find the White Mountain Petroglyphs? Who made them?

The White Mountains of Wyoming.

The White Mountain Petroglyph site in Wyoming’s Red Desert was once the home of Native American tribes. The site roughly starts ten miles north of Rock Springs. But to reach the White Mountains, where the petroglyphs are, one must drive 16 miles on a dirt road from the main site and walk a quarter mile on foot.

Petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) are the windows to the past, giving us almost a first-hand account of the lives of those who made them. Here, on the mountain face canvas, there are carvings and handprints that are the most tangible connections we have with the Great Basin Native Americans who lived there between 200 to 1,000 years ago. They include the Shoshone, Arapaho, and Ute tribes.

It is interesting to note that in other parts of the World, petroglyphs can be as old as 20,000 years. They started to diminish with the discovery and introduction of other forms of writing surfaces, different forms of art, and pictographs. But many cultures, like the Native Americans, continued to create them until contact was made with  Western culture, sometimes as late as the 18th or even the 19th century.

The petroglyphs have animals, symbols, and mysterious handprints.

The markings tell us a lot about the beliefs and culture of the people who lived here several hundred years ago and more. There are carvings in the White Mountains that look like bison and elk hunts. There are also buffalos and wild horses carved on the rock face. Apart from the animals, there are also various interesting geometric shapes and tiny footprints that embellish the rock face.

A Bison Carved on the Sandstone.

Though not much is known about these shapes or symbols, the local Native Americans consider them sacred. They feel connected to nature and feel positive when they visit the site.

According to a Native American elder, symbols are important and communal.  They feel the rocks are alive and connected to them. Some carvings also depict horses and warriors with swords. They tell us about their contact with European cultures.

White Mountain Petroglyphs.

But the most mysterious of all is the deep-set handprints that are somehow left within solid sandstone as if someone had mysteriously softened the rocks. These petroglyphs are important to understand the culture and beliefs of the people who made them.

How were the deep handprints in the White Mountain Petroglyphs site made?

Deep Handprints in the White Mountain Petroglyphs.

The handprints, deeply embedded in the sandstone, give an effect of mountain-scooping. According to historians, the handprints were created by the Easter Shoshone tribes between 1,000-1,800 CE. Thousands of people since then have continued to make the same motion with their hands across the soft sandstone. This, in turn, has created the effect of handprint carving deep into the rocks.

According to a website on Wyoming history, this was the birthing place for the Plains and Great Basin Tribes. The locals tell a fascinating story about how these handprints originated. Native women used to visit the White Mountains when they were giving birth. As their labor started and they had their contractions, their hands used to seek support on the mountain face and created deep handprints into the soft sandstone.

Standing against the rocks, they gave birth. Today, the site is considered sacred by  Native Americans, and visitors are urged to respect the site and not destroy any part of history through vandalism. Unfortunately, though, reckless damage to the site has already happened.

Could the White Mountain Natives melt stones?

White Mountain Petroglyph Site

The petroglyphs on the White Mountain are made of sandstone, a softer rock that gradually hardens with time. They were probably engraved with a harder object than the sandstone. Therefore, maybe melting stones was not necessary in this case.

But what about the handprints that look like they have been scooped out of the mountain? They are deep set in solid sandstone, giving an impression that, somehow, the ancients could soften the rocks like snow. Though these have not been studied much, experts believe the birthing story might have a logical explanation. These stones were soft, and years of pushing your hands into the mountains can make these handprints really deep and big.

Not just in the White Mountains but worldwide, there are similar examples of stone bending and carvings. Scientists and historians often discuss how ancient civilizations knew advanced mechanisms to melt or soften stones.

One interesting theory, based on the shaping of stones in Peru, is that the ancients knew a plant that could melt stones. Scientists also believe ancient cultures knew advanced science and used high temperatures to shape rocks. This unknown process vitrified the surface of the rocks, turning them glasslike, on which they carved. But the process remains a mystery.

The petroglyphs in the White Mountains have not been researched, or studied by anyone formally, yet. They remain elusive and hidden, getting only 12,000 visitors a year. Let us hope when visiting the site, the visitors respect the sacredness and tread lightly to preserve the petroglyphs for as long as possible.

Hundreds of well-preserved prehistoric animals were found in an ancient ash bed in Nebraska

Hundreds of well-preserved prehistoric animals were found in an ancient ash bed in Nebraska

Scientists have excavated fossils of 58 rhinos, 17 horses, 6 camels, 5 deers, 2 dogs, a rodent, a saber-toothed deer, and dozens of birds and turtles in Nebraska.

In that distant past, Nebraska was a grassy savanna. Trees and shrubs dotted the landscape. It likely resembled today’s Serengeti National Park in East Africa.

The watering holes attracted prehistoric animals among Nebraska’s tall grasslands. From horses to camels and rhinoceroses, with wild dogs looming nearby, animals roamed the savanna-like region.

Hundreds of well-preserved prehistoric animals were found in an ancient ash bed in Nebraska
Teleoceras mother “3” and nursing calf (above mother’s neck and head).

Then, one day, it all changed. Hundreds of miles away, a volcano in southeast Idaho erupted. Within days, up to two feet of ash covered parts of present-day Nebraska.

Some of the animals died immediately, consumed with ash and other debris. Most of the animals lived for several more days, their lungs ingesting ash as they searched the ground for food. Within a few weeks, northeast Nebraska was barren of animals, except for a few survivors.

More than 12 million years later, in 1971, a fossil was found in Antelope County, near the small town of Royal. The skull of a baby rhino was discovered by a Nebraska paleontologist named Michael Voorhies and his wife while exploring the area. The fossil was exposed by erosion. Soon after, exploration started in the area.

It was found that birds and turtles died quickly as their skeletons lie at the bottom of the ash, right on what was the sandy bottom of the watering hole. Other animals occur in layers.

The Ashfall water hole drew creatures of all descriptions to its muddy banks. Some would probably look strange to modern eyes. Some would resemble familiar creatures that still walk the Earth. (Nebraska during the Cenozoic Era)

Above the birds and turtles lie dog-sized saber-tooth deer. Then five species of pony-sized horses, some with three toes. Above those are camel remains.

Atop them, all are the biggest, the rhinos, in a single layer. All of this is buried under about 2.5 meters (8 feet) of ash. It must have blown into the water, covering the dead.

Fossils in the ash bed are whole. They haven’t been squashed flat. Their bones are all still in place. They’re also fragile. Most fossils form when groundwater soaks into bones and teeth.

Over time, minerals from the water fill in the gaps and even replace some of the original bone. The result is a hard, rock-like fossil that can stand the test of time.

Here, however, the ash eventually locked the skeletons away from the water. After the watering hole dried up, the super-fine ash left no room between particles for new water to seep in.

The ash protected the bones, preserving them in their original positions. But they didn’t mineralize much. When scientists remove the ash around them, these bones start to crumble.

Within a few years, as more discoveries were made, the fossil site grew into a tourist attraction. Today, people visit Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park to check out hundreds of fossils from 12 species of animals, including five types of horses, three species of camels, as well as a saber-toothed deer. The infamous saber-toothed cat remains a dream discovery.

Visitors view fossils inside the Hubbard Rhino Barn, a 17,500-square-foot facility that protects the fossils while allowing visitors to roam on a boardwalk. Kiosks provide information on fossils located in specific areas.

‘Exceptionally Rare’ Dinosaur Fossil Found in Maryland

‘Exceptionally Rare’ Dinosaur Fossil Found in Maryland

‘Exceptionally Rare’ Dinosaur Fossil Found in Maryland

A group of paleontologists and volunteers discovered several rare fossils, along with the largest theropod fossil ever found in Eastern North America.

The find was made at Dinosaur Park, Maryland, in April 2023. The site has seen the discovery of amazing fossils since the 19th century, but this recent find was described by Matthew Carrano, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian, as “exceptionally rare.”

Dinosaur Park discovery

At Dinosaur Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland, paleontologists and volunteers discovered a three-foot-long fossil. This fossil was found at what had been classified as a “bonebed,” a term used by paleontologists to describe a layer with contents that date to the same geologic period. The bonebed discovered was the first found in Maryland since 1887.

JP Hodnett, program coordinator and paleontologist at Dinosaur Park, said, “Finding a bonebed like this is a dream for many paleontologists as they can offer a wealth of information on the ancient environments that preserved the fossils and provide more details on the extinct animals that previously may have only been known from a handful of specimens.”

Workers at the bonebed where the Acrocanthosaurus fossil was discovered.

Hodnett concluded: “Most paleontologists have to travel across the country or go overseas to find something like this, so having this rare find so close to home is fantastic.”

What was discovered was a three-foot-long shin bone which is believed to have belonged to a theropod.

A theropod is a carnivorous, bipedal, saurischian dinosaur, which is characterized by hollow and thin-walled bones. These dinosaurs had shorter forelimbs with three clawed digits.

The fossil is believed to be from an Acrocanthosaurus, the largest theropod of the Early Cretaceous period. Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist at the University of Maryland, said, “The dinosaur site at Laurel is by far the most important dinosaur dig site in America east of the Mississippi… It gives us insights into the diversity of animals and plants at a critical period in Earth’s history.”


Acrocanthosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, approximately 113 to 110 million years ago. It was a large carnivorous dinosaur that belonged to the family Carcharodontosauridae, which includes other notable predators like Tyrannotitan and Giganotosaurus.

Acrocanthosaurus was named for the distinctive high spines running along its back, which gave it a unique appearance. These spines, coupled with its robust build and powerful jaws, indicate that it was a formidable predator. It measured around 36 to 38 feet in length and weighed an estimated 4.4 to 6.6 metric tons.

Acrocanthosaurus restoration.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Acrocanthosaurus is its skull, which was long, narrow, and filled with sharp, serrated teeth. These teeth were well-suited for gripping and tearing flesh, indicating that it was an efficient hunter. Additionally, its forelimbs were relatively short compared to its hind limbs, suggesting that Acrocanthosaurus was likely a bipedal dinosaur.

Other fossils of Acrocanthosaurus have been discovered in what is now North America, primarily in the United States. The first remains of this dinosaur were found in 1940 in Oklahoma, and subsequent discoveries have helped paleontologists gain a better understanding of its anatomy and behavior.

Due to the incomplete nature of the fossil record, some aspects of Acrocanthosaurus’ life remain uncertain. However, based on its physical characteristics, scientists believe that it was an apex predator that likely preyed upon large herbivorous dinosaurs, such as sauropods and ornithopods.

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.