First of all, WOW! My last post may have got the most notes out of anything I’ve put to Tumblr, almost at 500 as I’m typing this.
To keep the Dire Wolf train rolling, here are a pair of Dire Wolf jaws collected from the Ichetucknee River in Columbia County, FL
art by Mauricio Anton
By the etime the Zimovs moved, the camps had shut down. Their remoteness was what they wanted: freedom from the vigilant eye of the Communist Party.
“To be a prophet, you must live in the desert.”—Mr Zimov.
A geophysicist and contrarian, Zimov founded the Northeast Science Station (NESS) for Arctic research, and several insights on permafrost and melting Arctic-ice are drawn from his studies.
As global temperatures rise, the Arctic temperatures rise faster, in some areas registering 8°C warmer than only a decade ago. The real issue is once Arctic permafrost (a thick layer of frozen soil) begins to melt, its million year old deposits of minerals (carcasses, and plant material) are exposed, becoming food for microbes, which convert it into CO2 and methane—greenhouse gases. As we know, these gases in turn accelerate the planet’s warming, and therefore also accelerate the thawing of the permafrost, creating a vicious feedback loop with possibly catastrophic consequences.
“It’s not anything we’re doing directly, and that makes it far harder to control.”—Robert Max Holmes, deputy director of the Woodwell Climate Research Centre
Northern Permafrost contains 1.600bn tonnes of carbon—twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. The issue with thawing, is that there is no consensus on how it will actually thaw: eg. all at once, or gradually, or creating lakes that attract more microbes…“The more permafrost is studied, the more scientists find surprises out there that they don’t know enough about”—the Economist.
“Every scientist now appreciates the importance of the carbon in the permafrost, a lot of that can be traced to Zimov.”—Max Holmes, deputy director of the Woodwell Climate Research Centre
Zimov, albeit a polarising figure, remains a leading scientist in understanding permafrost thaw. Today, his research center NESS has become a global hub.
His solution involves returning the Arctic to the Pleistocene epoch’s ecosystem: a grassland known as the Mammoth Steppe—back when woolly mammoths, bisons, reindeers, lions, and wolves roamed the icy north. His project would be to radically rewild the Siberian tundra in order to bring back the grass. The reintroduction of large mammals would tamp down moss, knock down tress, and churn up the soil, allowing the grass to flourish again. Grass in turn reflects more light and reduces the amount of heat absorbed by the soil.
Most importantly, the animals would also compress the winter snow, which creates a thick layer that does not allow the cold temperatures to reach the permafrost below. The thinner layer of snow would cool the permafrost more in the winter months, ensuring that it does not thaw in the summer.
In order to achieve this, Zimov has created the Pleistocene Park, rewilding a mixture of Pleistocene surviving herbivores: Yakutian horses, bisons, musk oxen, elk, reeindeers, sheep, yak and kalmyk cattle. The reintroduction of these animals has in fact turned the mossy and wet tundra into grassland.
So far, Zimov’s results are promising. The animals have helped grasslands re-emerge. The average annual soil temperatures in grazed area are 2.2°C cooler than in the tundra, and carbon is being sequestred by the grassland too.
Zimov hopes to scale his project to other areas in the Arctic. Their long-term dream is to host woolly mammoths again one day, forming a partnershing with George Church, of Harvard University, who is researching how to revive these ancient beasts using CRISPR gene-editing technology.
View of a crater lake in Maly Semiachik volcano by BERNHARD EDMAIER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
View of a bright blue crater lake in the caldera of Maly Semiachik, an active volcano. A caldera is a basin-shaped depression caused by volcanic subsidence. The lake is highly acidic and is heated by the volcano. The bright blue colour of the lake is due to the complex combinations of chemicals present in the water. Maly Semiachik is part of the Karymsky group of volcanoes, on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
The incredibly well-preserved body of a juvenile woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) has been unearthed in Yakutia!
The body is estimated to be around 20,000 years old, though the rhino itself is thought to have been only 3 or 4 years old when it died. Things like internal organs, teeth and body fat have all been preserved, alongside patches of fur which are described as “thick” and “hazel-colored”.
[ article link ]
Merry Christmas to all my followers who celebrate it.
I felt like doing something simple for this year. It’s a celebration of something we took for granted pre-pandemic. Being in quarantine made me, like, reflect a LOT on family and such.
Fun fact, December 22nd, just a few days a go, was also Indonesian Mother’s day!
Under a veil of moonlight, a giant pushes its way through the edge of an ancient forest, massive legs plow slowly through deep snow, crashing through the stillness of the night making sure not to tangle the even more massive antlers that adorn its head. At more than 12 feet from end to end, the spectacular headgear of Megaloceros giganteus likely prevented it from venturing to far into the dense woods, but the Ancient winters of Ice Age Europe were long and bitter and might have driven the great beast into unexpected places in order to find food that could help sustain its more than 1,500 pounds of girth.
Megaloceros was one of the largest deer species to have ever lived, reaching almost 7 feet at the shoulder. Despite its common name of the “Irish Elk,” M. giganteus was actually not closely related to modern elk species, with its closest living relatives being the Fallow Deer or the Red Deer.
Though the first scientific descriptions of the creature were done in the late 17th century by Irish physician, Thomas Molyneux (1695), humans have in fact known of and lived along side the great deer for millennia across a wide range, including Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. Those ancient humans not only likely hunted the animal but also used their antlers and other bodily remains in various different ways including the construction of tools, and they even depicted what they looked like in life in the form of art found in places like that found on cave walls in Cougnac, France.
It’s possible that humans may have had a part to play in the ultimate extinction of Megaloceros, though it’s also likely that there were other factors, some theories suggest climate change leading to denser forest growth, making their enormous headgear a burden when looking for food, others suggest that the large antlers may have needed more nutrients than the food supply could support, and still other theories suggest that sexual selection of males with only the largest antlers may have caused breeding to be very a very exclusive activity which may have caused issues in overall population growth and health.
Regardless of what finally did it, these massive animals eventually perished, gone but not forgotten, like so many other ice age giants.
A little early but here’s this year’s Christmas art piece. Decided to do an ice age theme (no relation to the movie franchise) with a wooly mammoth and an elasmotherium decorating a Christmas tree. Tried to pick out things they could realistically find to decorate a tree with (the shells and the starfish could be picked up by a nearby shoreline).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
As always comments and critiques are welcome.
More new molds available in my etsy shop!
RARE EAST AFRICAN ACHEULIAN HANDAXE WITH FINGER GRIP IN RHYOLITE FROM FAMOUS SITE
This rhyolite handaxe was made and used by early humans of the species Homo erectus (ergaster). It comes from an old European collection and was originally surface-collected from an exposed Acheulian site in East Africa. This Lower Paleolithic tool represents the first intelligent design type known to science that was made by primitive humans. Prior to these Acheulian handaxes, only crude pebble and flake tools existed in the human fossil record.
This is a MUSEUM-GRADE example of a typical form of Acheulian handaxe from this region. This example shows superb flaking and execution of this form. It fits PERFECTLY in the EITHER hand with a bulbous grip for the trailing fingers likely needed to get a firm grip as this axe would have been slippery with blood and fat when in use. As an added bonus, the bi-color patina is as good as it gets! Axe is in PERFECT ORIGINAL CONDITION. Tip and edges are intact. In “as found” ORIGINAL condition with NO REPAIR AND NO RESTORATION. It has a unique feature being a prominent natural pocked in the stone being ingeniously oriented as a finger grip when the axe was made. Because of the greater difficulty in working the volcanic stone from which it was made, it is cruder in appearance than its counterparts of the same period, found in North Africa and made of more common quartzite. Quartzite is easier to shape compared to rhyolite so less secondary blows and a more fundamental design is always found on these hand axes of East Africa. Almost never are Paleolithic tools offered from this part of Africa. An absolute must for advanced collections displaying the diversity of Africa’s human history and related stone tool development!
During the time of this axe, there were large elephant and hippopotamus species as well as giraffe species in Africa that primitive humans would have hunted. An axe like this was necessary to butcher such large kills.
Sorry it has been a while since I have checked in, I had burnt out a little on this painting and needed a bit to get back into the swing of things and work the visual issues a bit. I may redo the Megaloceros completely as I’m not sure about the posing, but I think I have gotten a better idea on the overall composition and scale I want to go with. It helped when I took out the layers with the animal and worked the background a bit.
Artist’s conception of the American Lion (Panthera leo atrox), a prehistoric lion, now extinct, which ranged from North America to northwestern South America during the Pleistocene epoch. At about 25% larger than the modern African lion, it is one of the largest cats ever to have existed. (ROGER HALL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)
Prehistoric lion (Felis atrox) in the Museum of Ancient Life, Lehi, Utah, USA. ( MILLARD H. SHARP / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The American lion (Panthera atrox), also known as the “North American lion”, or “American cave lion”, is an extinct pantherine cat that lived in North America during the Pleistocene epoch and the early Holocene epoch, about 340,000 to 11,000 years ago. Its fossils have been excavated from Alaska to Mexico. Genetic analysis has shown that the American lion and the Late Pleistocene Eurasian cave lion (Panthera spelaea) are sister lineages. It was about 25% larger than the modern lion, making it one of the largest known felids.