If you thought that rapid and potentially catastrophic climate change was all bad, think again. High in the Mackenzie Mountains in Canada, a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools is being revealed as warming temperatures melt patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years.
Ice patches are accumulations of annual snow that, until recently, remained frozen all year. For millennia, caribou seeking relief from summer heat and insects have made their way to ice patches where they bed down until cooler temperatures prevail. Hunters noticed caribou were, in effect, marooned on these ice islands and took advantage.
In 1997, sheep hunters discovered a 4,300-year-old dart shaft in caribou dung that had become exposed as the ice receded. Scientists who investigated the site found layers of caribou dung buried between annual deposits of ice. They also discovered a repository of well-preserved artifacts.
The highest mountain in the range, Keele Peak, in 2005
(photo credit: wikipedia)
Since that discovery, researchers have found 2400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1000-year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years. Biologists involved in the project are examining dung for plant remains, insect parts, pollen and caribou parasites. Others are studying DNA evidence to track the lineage and migration patterns of caribou.
"The implements are truly amazing. There are wooden arrows and dart shafts so fine you can't believe someone sat down with a stone and made them," says Tom Andrews, an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife
Unfortunately, the team is in a race against time. Each summer, the patches continue to melt. In fact, two of the eight original patches have already disappeared.
"We realize that the ice patches are continuing to melt and we have an ethical obligation to collect these artifacts as they are exposed," says Andrews. If left on the ground, exposed artifacts would be trampled by caribou or dissolved by the acidic soils. "In a year or two the artifacts would be gone."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Stop Using BMI To Determine Health
- Why Diamonds Are More Of A Scientific Miracle Than You Think
- Would New Planet X Clear Its Orbit? - And Any Better Name Than "Planet Nine"?
- Top Secret: On Confidentiality On Scientific Issues, Across The Ring And Across The Bedroom
- Why Rest Is Critical After A Concussion
- First-semester GPA A Better Predictor Of College Success Than ACT Score
- Glyphosate Now Most Popular Weed Killer In History, Laments Economist Chuck Benbrook
- "Hi Tommaso, Recently I became aware of he Dirac-Milne cosmological model that postulates that matter..."
- "I find it hard to understand how someone with a PhD who no doubt trusts the toxicology literature..."
- "Very interesting discussion! That we are seeing these issues exposed in astronomy so prominently..."
- "I just wrote: Either way will produce enough food to feed people. It is all in the details of HOW..."
- "for the first time in world history, poor people can afford to be fat. That is not farming gone..."
- BMI is Bologna
- Energy Drinks: The Dose Makes the Poison
- California’s Prop 65: Bad For Public Acceptance Of Science, About To Get Worse
- Wear Red Today! It’s Women’s Heart Health Awareness Day
- Can Marijuana Ease NFL Players’ Pain? Claims Are All Over The Field
- Mid-Life Crisis Clusters Found In 4 US Cities
- Studies link healthy workforces to positive stock market performance
- Pioneering discovery leads to potential preventive treatment for sudden cardiac death
- Online shopping might not be as green as we thought
- Gene family turns cancer cells into aggressive stem cells that keep growing
- NASA's GPM satellite examines violent thunderstorms