Hawaii Has A Protected Valley, Where Its Ancient Plants Are Preserved

For the past 1,500 years, Limahuli Valley on Kauai has been a green haven, a wilderness preserved to exist just as the native Hawaiians experienced it. It is home to plant life unlike anything found in the rest of the world, with many endangered plants thriving in the valley.

In The Beginning...

According to Māori mythology the world began with a void, Te Kore, which contained nothing and yet had the potential for everything. Darkness or Chaos (Pō) followed Te Kore, then the sky (Rangi) and the earth (Papa).

6,000-Year-Old Skull Perhaps Earliest Known Tsunami Victim!

When the Aitape skull was discovered in 1929 in Papua New Guinea, it was mistakenly thought to belong to Homo erectus. But subsequent radiocarbon dating determined it was only around 6,000 years old and therefore a Homo sapiens skull. Now, a reevaluation of the skull and its findspot has added a new twist. Geochemical analysis of the sediments in which the skull was embedded suggests they were deposited miles inland by a powerful paleo-tsunami, making the skull perhaps part of the world’s oldest known tsunami victim!

Night Fishing In Hawaii

Hawaiians used spears to fish in shallows or along rocky ledges, or underwater to catch rock fishes. Night spear fishing inside the reef was done by the light of kukui-nut torches: the bright light attracted fish in shallow waters. Photograph taken in 1948.

A Beautiful Ceremonial Blouse

From the Toraja people of Indonesia, specifically the To Bada Toraja. Circa early 1900s. Meant to be worn by a woman at important ceremonies, such as funerals, it is decorated with beads at the bottom, and lined with bark cloth!     Courtesy of the LACMA.

What Is an Isotope Analysis and Why Is It Useful?

You've probably heard the term "isotope analysis." In theory, its a simple idea: people are what they eat and drink. Ratios of carbon and nitrogen in our bones and our teeth allows scientists to tell the relative amounts of animal protein that we eat and drink.  It can also be used to distinguish between broad groups of plants, because different paths use different photosynthetic pathways and that determines the amounts of carbon and nitrogen we get from eating different groups of plants. Using carbon and nitrogen ratios, modern scientists can -- to a degree -- reconstruct the diets of people who died long ago.

Isotope analysis can also tell if a person was born where they were buried. There are differences in strontium isotope ratios, depending on the age of the underlying geology of an area. Are you living on 20 million year old bedrock, or 200 million year old bedrock? Apparently, it makes a difference. By drinking local water and eating local food, people incorporate the local strontium isotope ratios into their tooth enamel while their teeth form during childhood. When a skeleton is found, the teeth's strontium isotope ratio can be compared to the local burial area's ratio. If it is not the same, then the person was not raised there. Of course this only tells us whether they are local or not. It does not help identify where the person migrated from.

What Is An Ice Age?

When you read that, an image probably came to mind: giant glaciers, people huddling for warmth, maybe a giant woolly mammoth or two. The problem with that definition of "Ice Age" is it defines what life is like now on Earth as "normal" and giant glaciers over the north and south pole as "abnormal." But is that true? Are we, in fact, living in a period of relative coolness? Is right now an "abnormal" Earth?

A better description of an ice age would be that it’s a long stretch of time in which both the atmosphere and the planet’s surface have a low temperature, resulting in the presence of polar ice sheets and mountainous glaciers. An Ice Age can last for several million years. Within the Ice Age period, the Earth isn't uniformly covered in snow. There are periods of glaciation, characterized by ice sheet and glacier expansion over the face of the planet, and interglacial periods, where we would have an interval of several thousand years of warmer temperatures and receding ice. Turns out just the presence of ice caps on the north and south pole is abnormal! What we currently live in is an "interglacial period" in the middle of an Ice Age!

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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