Category Archives: U.S.A

Huge 300-Million-Year-Old Shark Skull Found Deep Inside An Underground Kentucky Cave

Huge 300-Million-Year-Old Shark Skull Found Deep Inside An Underground Kentucky Cave

In the walls of a Kentucky cave, a fossilized shark’s head was found around 300 million years ago.

Scientists suggest that it was part of a striatus of Saivodus, which existed during the Late Mississippian geological age between 340 million and 330 million years ago.

It shows the skull, the lower jaws, cartilage and several teeth of the creature. The team believes that the size of the animal is similar to our modern Great White Shark.

A massive, fossilized shark head dating back some 300 million years ago has been discovered in the walls of a Kentucky cave. Experts believe it belonged to a Saivodus striatus, which lived between 340 and 330 million years ago during the Late Mississippian geological period.

The ancient shark head was uncovered in Mammoth Cave National Park, located in Kentucky, which is Earth’s oldest known cave system, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

It was first spotted in a treasure trove of fossils by Mammoth Cave specialists Rick Olson and Rick Toomey, who sent images of their findings to Vincent Santucci, the senior paleontologist for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., for help with identifying the fossils.

But it was paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett who made the exciting discovery.

‘One set of photos showed a number of shark teeth associated with large sections of fossilized cartilage, suggesting there might be a shark skeleton preserved in the cave,’ he told the Journal.

The head was well-preserved in the cave and the team was able to make out the shark’s skull, lower jaw, cartilage, and numerous teeth. Based on these features, Hodnett believes the shark was about the size of a modern-day great white.

The Mammoth Cave National Park holds a trove of ancient fossil – more than 100 shark species have been discovered so far.

‘We’ve just scratched the surface,’ Hodnett said. ‘But already it’s showing that Mammoth Cave has a rich fossil shark record.’

A discovery such as this is very rare, as cartilage does not usually survive fossilization. However, shark teeth are commonly found, as they are made of bone and enamel, making them easy to preserve.

Hodnett said teeth and dorsal fins of other shark species are also exposed in the cave ceiling and walls.

‘We’ve just scratched the surface,’ Hodnett said. ‘But already it’s showing that Mammoth Cave has a rich fossil shark record.’  

A separate exudation found teeth that they believed belonged to the largest prehistoric shark that lived over 2.5 million years ago.  The discovery was made by divers in an inland sinkhole in central Mexico supporting anthropologists’ theories that the city of Maderia was once under the sea.

Fifteen dental fossils were found in total with thirteen of them believed to belong to three different species of shark, including a megalodon that existed over 2.5 million years ago.

According to the researchers involved, an initial exam of the thirteen shark dental fossils and their size and shape revealed that they might have belonged to the prehistoric and extinct species of megalodon shark (Carcharocles megalodon), the mackerel shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) and the saw shark, the last two of which are not extinct.

Hodnett said teeth (pictured) and dorsal fins of other shark species are also exposed in the cave ceiling and walls
A discovery such as this is very rare, as cartilage does not usually survive fossilization. However, shark teeth are commonly found, as they are made of bone and enamel, making them easy to preserve.

The fossils belong to the period of Pleiocene, the epoch in the geologic timescale that extended from 5 million to 2.5 million years ago, and the Miocene, an earlier geological epoch which extended between 23 and 5 million years ago.

Reports state the Xoc cenote is the largest in the city of Merida with a diameter of 2,034 feet and 91 feet deep.

A Civil War-era ‘witch bottle’ may have been found on a Virginia highway, archaeologists say

A Civil War-era ‘witch bottle’ may have been found on a Virginia highway, archaeologists say

From the College of William & Mary archeologists discovered a remarkable piece of history.

At Redoubt 9, which is now known as exits 238 to 242 on I64 in York County, the team found a Jug of the Civil War era, which was thought to be a “witch bottle.” Witch bottles served as a kind of talisman to ward off evil spirits, the university says.

The excavation was carried out in association with Virginia Transportation Department in 2016 and was supervised by the former archeologist Chris Shepard of William & Mary Center for Archeological Research (WMCAR), who now works for VDOT.

Researchers at the College of William & Mary think a piece of Civil War-era glassware found at the site of an old fort in York County, Va., may have been a “witch bottle” used to ward off evil spirits.

Staff thought it looked like a bottle full of junk at first.

“It was this glass bottle full of nails, broken, but all there, near an old brick hearth,” said Joe Jones, director of WMCAR, told the college. “We thought it was unusual, but weren’t sure what it was.”

Jones said that the research center works frequently and closely with VDOT and noted that the standard arrangement is for their archaeological work to be scheduled well in advance of active roadwork. This particular dig took place before the planned interstate widening project.

William & Mary says Redoubt 9 was constructed by Confederates and occupied by Union troops after the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862.

Jones says the fortification was one of 14 mini-forts built along a line between the James and York Rivers to counter the threat of a Federal assault on Richmond via the Peninsula.

Jones explained that an afflicted person would bury the nail-filled bottle under or near their hearth with the idea that the heat from the hearth would energize the nails into breaking a witch’s spell.

Nearly 200 witch bottles have been documented in Great Britain, but less than a dozen have been found in the U.S, William & Mary says.

“It’s a good example of how a singular artifact can speak volumes,” Jones told W&M. “It’s really a time capsule representing the experience of Civil War troops, a window directly back into what these guys were going through occupying this fortification at this period in time.”

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school

Sherry Read Math teacher Classroom is a total mess. The students are gone for the summer, and light fixtures dangle from the ceiling.

There is a dust layer on the floor. The worker’s rackets down the corridor during the refurbishment of the school, which dates back to the 1890s. They’re working in what has become an archaeological site.

Another discovery was made earlier this month by a construction crew from Oklahoma City School.

They found old chalkboards with class lessons that were written almost a century ago, and chalk drawings still in remarkably good condition. So Read doesn’t mind the mess. In fact, she’s amazed.

“It’s like touching history, like being a part of what was going on during the day,” she says. “It’s just remarkable and mysterious, trying to figure out what some of this was.”

The “multiplication wheel” was found behind a wall at Emerson High School.

The biggest mystery is an old multiplication wheel. It’s a circle with factors on the inside and other numbers on the outside. No one can figure it out.

But there’s no mystery about when the lessons were written. It was 1917, right after Thanksgiving. There is a turkey and pilgrim theme in every room.

One picture shows a little girl feeding a turkey. She’s in a pink and white knee-length dress and stockings; bright yellow curls frame her face. The picture is intricate, so detailed it must have been drawn by a teacher’s hand.

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school
An untouched chalkboard from 1917 was found behind a classroom wall at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City.

There’s also music and civics lessons, and rules for keeping clean. A vocabulary list highlights words like “blunder” and “choke” written in smooth cursive. Even the word “whoa” is listed because many people got around on horse and buggy back then.

Also on the board, a list of student names frozen in time.

“We’re not sure if that meant they were good students for the day, or they accomplished that,” Read says. “Or were their names up there because they were bad for the day?”

These snapshots are fragile. A simple, misplaced elbow can wipe them away. So school officials are now trying to figure out the best way to preserve these illuminating bits of the past.

Jeff Briley of the Oklahoma Historical Society says it’s important to secure the rooms by protecting chalkboards with acrylic glass and then controlling the temperature and light.

“They’re meant to be fleeting,” he says. “Chalk on a blackboard is not meant as a permanent media at all.”

He said everyone wants to preserve the blackboards, but they’re too fragile to move. So the old lessons may become part of the modern classrooms.

“If you make it secure, you make it to where there are no physical problems, you give it a stable environment, well then you’ll be good perhaps for another 100 years,” Briley says. Sherry Read says she gets a nice vibe from the chalkboards. She thinks the teachers of 1917 left the lessons for a reason.

“You would have cleaned off your board so you could be ready the next day to come back and teach,” she says. “So I think they left them on there on purpose to send a message to us, to say, ‘This is what was going on in our time.'”

Blackboard drawings are the fruit flies of art. They have short lifespans. That’s why the folks at Emerson High are scrambling. They want to preserve these snapshots from a century ago for future generations of Oklahoma students.

Petrified opal tree trunk situated in Arizona it’s about 225 million years old

225 million-year-old fossilized tree trunk from the Triassic Period in The Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

What happened to the wood that made it like this in the beautiful petrified trees in Arizona’s forests? They believe petrified wood is so old that it emerged in the prehistoric period. But do you know how petrified wood was made? This guide will show you how. What is petrified wood and how is it formed?

Fossil wood is considered to have grown when the material of the plant is buried by sediment. When wood is buried deep in the muck it is protected from decay brought about by the exposure to oxygen and organisms.

And because wood is stored in deep water, the minerals in groundwater flow through the sediment, replacing the original plant material like silica, calcite, and pyrite.

There are even very expensive minerals that can infiltrate wood-like opal. The result is a fossil made from the original woody material that often exhibits preserved details of the tree bark, wood, and cellular structures.

This is possibly the most popular petrified parks in the world. The Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook in northeastern Arizona has formed millions of years ago. About 225 million years ago, this was simply a lowland that has a tropical climate with a dense forest.

Rivers made by tropical rainstorms washed mud and other sediments. This was where you would find giant coniferous trees 9 feet in diameter and towering 200 feet lived and died.

Fallen trees and broken branches from these trees were buried by rich river sediments. Meanwhile, volcanoes nearby erupted numerous times and the ash and silica from these eruptions buried the area.

Eruptions caused large dense clouds of ash that buried the area and this quick cover prevented anything from escaping and of course, nothing can also move in, even oxygen and insects. In time, the soluble ash was dissolved by groundwater through the sediments. The dissolved ash became the source of silica that replaced the plant debris.

This silication process creates petrified wood. Aside from silica, trace amounts of iron, manganese and other minerals also penetrated the wood and this gave petrified wood a variety of colors. This is how the lovely Chinle Formation was made.

So how was this area discovered? Millions of years after the Chinle Formation were created, the entire area was dug and the rocks found on top of Chinle have eroded away.

What was discovered was wood here was much harder and resistant to weathering compared to the mudrocks and ash deposits in Chinle. Wood that was taken from the ground surface as nearby mudrocks and ash layers washed away.

Petrified Forest National Park is another world-class tourist site in the area, straddling Interstate 10 about 70 or 80 miles east of Meteor Crater.

The park covers 146 square miles.   It’s dry and often windy, but the elevation of 5400 feet means that it’s not as hot as desert areas at lower altitudes, and it’s mostly covered in the grass rather than cacti and other desert plants.

Of course, the big attraction here is the petrified trees, which grew here about 225 million years ago when this part of Arizona was at a much lower elevation near the shores of a large sea to the west.

As well as the trees, many fossilized animals such as clams, freshwater snails, giant amphibians, crocodile-like reptiles, and early dinosaurs have been found here.

At times volcanic ash was deposited on fallen trees in the forest here, and silica in the ash was dissolved by water and entered the trees, fossilizing them.

The silica in the logs crystallized into quartz, but often iron oxide and other minerals were mixed in, producing extraordinarily beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns and colors.

The petrified trees are often so attractive that a whole industry grew up around hauling them out from where they lay and cutting them up to make decorative furniture, wall displays, bookends, and other items. Theft from the park has always been a problem, and it’s estimated that around 12 tons of fossilized wood are stolen each year.

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina, U.S.A

Spanish soldiers took over the Native city of Catwba, Joara, about 60 miles east of Asheville, on an excursion from Florida about 450 years ago.

Fort San Juan is the first known European settlement to be established in the south-east of the USA about fourteen years before the British came to Jamestown. In Appalachia, Spanish became the first European language.

The story of Spanish soldiers coming to Catawba is, like much of American colonial history, characterized by colonization and ethnocentrism.

David Moore, an archeology teacher at Warren Wilson College, said: “There’s this sense of who is the other,” For nearly three decades Moore has been the executive archeologist, who has been leading research and excavations at the Barry site. Fort San Juan was about the size of a modern-day basketball court. He says the remains of the structure are more intact than any other colonial fort in North America. 

The site of the Spanish army’s Fort San Juan near Morganton.

“In effect, it’s 100 percent intact. We have the entire outline of it,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, plowing over the years has destroyed the upper levels of it, but it’s still far more intact than any other Spanish colonial fort. “

When Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo and his men arrived in 1566, they declared the Catawba Indians, who didn’t speak their language, new subjects of the king. The Spaniards forced the natives to construct the soldier’s homes and provide them meals. While the two groups lived side-by-side, the relationship was fraught by mounting mistrust and resentment. 

“So this relationship of two groups understanding each other very poorly, trying to figure out what to do with the other was constantly in the air,” Moore said. 

The tension ultimately propelled the Catawba to force the Spanish army out, changing the course of American history.  The absence of the Spaniards allowed for  English colonists to move inland and take their place. It’s how the English language gained a foothold in the region. 

“That colonial experience continued to be detrimental for native peoples,” Moore said. “The effects of the slave trade, of diseases, and of the political, economic and social disruption of tribal groups that ended up collapsing a social and political system that had been in place for nearly a thousand years.” 

There’s one particular artifact Moore’s team found that offers a snapshot of the Spaniards’ suspicion — and superstition. 

“We found a small piece of scrap metal, almost square in shape, and about an inch and a half in diameter,” Moore said. They discovered it was a small plate of armor, the kind that was sewn into garments during the medieval period. It was placed vertically in the soil, next to a post in the framework of a Spanish soldier’s house. 

A vest lined with a jack of plate armor believed to be English or Scottish, from 1590.

Moore and his team were perplexed by the armor until one historian reached out offering multiple references in Medieval European literature. Metal objects were commonly placed in the frames of homes to fend off black magic.  

“A Spanish soldier had placed this in the building to ward off witches, especially because Indian women were feeding them,” Moore said. “Many people think of native peoples being uncivilized, but here we have modern Europeans employing this kind of folklore to ward off magic. 

That wasn’t lost on Catawba Indian Beckee Garris when she first learned about the Spaniard’s supernatural object. “I kind of laughed, because, in all cultures, there’s a bad person, or a particularly bad spirit, if you want to call it that,” Garris said. 

Garris is a storyteller. She also makes Catawba pottery, much like the fragments scattered across the archaeological site. Garris says she makes pots the same way her ancestors did 500 years ago — without a kiln and with clay harvested from the same spot.

“It not only touches my heart, but it also touches my soul that our buried history is coming to light again. We are learning about ourselves now as well about our past,” Garris said. “Before European contact, there was no written history. Everything was passed down orally, and you had to hide who you were because of prejudices and laws that were made by the government.”

David Moore shows WCU students a rendering of the Spanish fort during a visit to the excavation site in September.

Bringing visibility to these early American stories still is a work in progress. The English settlers’ arrival in Jamestown exactly 400 years ago is commonly seen as the beginning of European colonization in the US. 

“This is something that we struggle within the US. White folks are not the first folks to have been here,” Paul Worley, Western Carolina University associate professor of global literature, said. He recently took students from Latinx Studies composition and literature classes to the excavation site.  

“Given the current moment in the United States, I think it’s a fairly radical thing to go back and talk about these histories,” Worley said. “Both on the Native American side and both on the Spanish colonial side. Because these are both histories that are frequently denied or ignored altogether.”

Worley wants students to think about US history from a multicultural and multilingual perspective – to consider writings from Spanish explorers, Native Americans and enslaved Africans. And maybe, he says, resurrecting those narratives will reframe the retelling of America’s story, both past, and present. 

For the archaeologist, there are still lessons to be learned from the Joara-Fort San Juan site. “450 years ago this tragedy unfolds because people don’t acknowledge the humanness of each other. That’s certainly a lesson we’re still trying to learn today,” David Moore said.