7,000-year-old Native American burial site found off Florida

Divers search for more evidence underwater

Diver Nicole Grinnan measures the test unit’s depth using a laser level and folding ruler

Archaeologists have uncovered a Native American burial site dating back 7,000 years off the coast of Florida.

The site was found by an amateur diver in 2016 who was looking for shark teeth but stumbled on an ancient jawbone.

In a picture sent from the diver, archaeologist Ryan Duggins noticed a worn down molar tooth attached to the jawbone. This suggested it belonged to a prehistoric person.

Florida state officials called the find an “unprecedented discovery”.

Mr Duggins and his team began investigating the site from the “Archaic Period” located 900ft (275m) from shore.

The burial grounds are expected to cover about 32,000 sq feet (3,000 sq metres) off the coast of Manasota Key.

Underwater stake at burial siteImage copyrightFLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Image caption    One of the stakes excavated at Manasota Key Offshore revealed a notch in its length, it is not yet known what the notch was for

Underwater, the team found densely packed organic remains, human bones, and sharpened wooden stakes and textile fragments, according to National Geographic.

“Seeing a 7,000-year-old site that is so well preserved in the Gulf of Mexico is awe inspiring,” Mr Duggins said in a press release from the Florida Department of State.

“We are truly humbled by this experience.”

The site is believed to have been preserved in a freshwater pond thousands of years ago when water levels were 30ft (9m) lower, according the a press release..

The pond had a bottom covered in peat, which reportedly slowed the process of organic decay and allowed for the preservation of human remains.

“Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples,” said Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

The state said they are working closely with Native American tribes to ensure the proper treatment of the bones.

“We are happy to be working, shoulder to shoulder, with the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the residents of Manasota Key to identify a preservation plan that will allow the ancestors to continue to rest peacefully and without human disturbance for the next 7,000 years”, the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s historic preservation officer Paul Backhouse told the Bradenton Herald newspaper.

“The highest priority of all involved is to honour tribal beliefs and customs with respect to this ancestral resting place,” said the Florida Department of State.

Florida archaeologists have discovered other evidence of the Archaic period but say this discovery is remarkable because the site survived offshore through hurricanes and erosion.

“The vast majority of underwater archaeological projects have historically been focused on shipwrecks,” Mr Duggins told National Geographic.

From BBC News

Surprising Footage Captures Arctic Jellyfish Lurking Under the Ice

In the midst of a frosty Arctic winter, marine biologist Andy Juhl led a team from Columbia University’s Earth Institute on snowmobiles out over the frozen Chukchi sea. There they drilled holes through the ice, several feet thick, and dropped a submersible down into the frigid environment and take a peek at what lies beneath.

As George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo, what they found delighted them: a jellyfish.

Until now, scientists believed that the creatures spent the winter in polyp form—bulbous masses that cling to surfaces and release bell-shaped jellies in the Spring. But the translucent critter, Chrysaora melanaster, shows that the jellies can overwinter in the waters off the coast of northern Alaska—an environment previously believed to be too harsh for adult jellies to survive. The scientists described their find in a new study, published in the journal Marine Ecology.

  1. melanaster, also known as the “northern sea nettle,” is one of the Arctic’s largest jellyfish. Their voluminous bells can grow up to a foot or more across and their tentacles and ruffle-like string of “lips” stretch behind them for nearly ten feet. The jellies thrive in the cold Arctic waters, but until this latest study, researchers had yet to find evidence that they could remain in this environment over the course of the harsh winters.

Though their presence might seem surprising, as the researchers write in their study, the sea ice might protect the jellyfish from turbulent storms while the cold would slow their metabolism, allowing them to survive on little food throughout the winter. According to the Census of Marine Life, Chrysaora melanaster jellies feed on large zooplankton, small fish, copepods, and even other jellies.

In the video, the creature can be seen dragging across the seafloor, which might not appear like a thriving environment in the peak of winter. But as the researchers note, the Arctic seas support a surprising amount of winter food, namely ice algae, which grow inside and along the bottom of sea ice and eventually sink to the bottom, providing a base for the food chain.

Even so, the researchers note that reduced food supplies don’t stop these resourceful creatures, which can regrow their gonads once food availability increases. This means that even if food is short, these overwintering jellies will likely still be capable of reproduction come spring.

“Thus, overwintering could be an effective strategy for individuals with the potential to mature to consume the abundant zooplankton food available in spring and increase their sexual reproductive output,” the researchers write.

Knowing that these creatures can survive the winter under sea ice will help scientists better understand jellyfish population dynamics, which greatly vary from year to year, Dvorsky writes. Some years there are hardly any, while other years they are so common that fishing nets are choked with them.

These swings in jellyfish populations don’t just plague Alaska. One particularly dramatic bloom in the Mediterranean this summer prompted a researcher from Italy’s Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Antonella Leone, to try to get locals to eat them. She hopes to curb their numbers as warmer waters spur populations to grow “gelatinous generation after gelatinous generation,” Jason Horowitz reported for The New York Times earlier this year.

The latest study is not necessarily an indicator of changes in climate, but suggests that the northern sea nettle could be sensitive to future shifts in sea ice—just like the polar bears and walruses we commonly think of struggling to adapt to the changing Arctic.

As Juhl and his colleagues write, it’s especially important to understand these dynamics now, “as coastal Arctic seas become more open to transportation, commercial fishing, oil and gas exploration, and other forms of commercial exploitation.” These ventures could affect not just the furry creatures roaming above the ice, but the gelatinous ones sliding along below.

Africa’s week in pictures: 22 – 28 September 2017

Africa’s week in pictures: 22 – 28 September 2017

A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week.

A church choir performs during the Meskel Festival to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified on at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaImage copyrightREUTERS

In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, a church choir performs at Meskel, the first big festival of the Ethiopian religious year.

A choir member blows a traditional trumpet during the Meskel FestivalImage copyrightREUTERS

A boy blows a traditional trumpet at the festival, which took place on Tuesday.

An Ethiopian Orthodox deacon carries a cross during the Meskel Festival to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified on at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaImage copyrightREUTERS

The Orthodox Christian…

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Africa’s week in pictures: 22 – 28 September 2017

A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week.

A church choir performs during the Meskel Festival to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified on at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaImage copyrightREUTERS

In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, a church choir performs at Meskel, the first big festival of the Ethiopian religious year.

A choir member blows a traditional trumpet during the Meskel FestivalImage copyrightREUTERS

A boy blows a traditional trumpet at the festival, which took place on Tuesday.

An Ethiopian Orthodox deacon carries a cross during the Meskel Festival to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified on at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaImage copyrightREUTERS

The Orthodox Christian festival commemorates the finding of the true cross in the 4th Century AD.

A Senegalese woman prays in front of the grave of a loved one as she marks the 15th anniversary of the sinking of the ship 'Le Joola' on September 26, 2017 in Dakar. Ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of Senegal's Joola ferry tragedy, in which nearly 1,900 people died are taking place in DakarImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

On the same day, a Senegalese woman kneels in front of a grave to mark the 15th anniversary of the sinking of the ferry, Joola.

A Senegalese woman walks past graves as family and friends visit to mark the 15th anniversary of the sinking of the ship 'Le Joola'Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

At least 1,800 people died when the ferry sank in 2002, more than the 1,563 people who died when the Titanic sank in 1912.

A woman looks at an exhibit in the main hall of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town on September 22, 2017.Image copyrightAFP

On Friday, a woman looks at an exhibit at the opening of Africa’s biggest modern art gallery in South Africa’s coastal city of Cape Town.

Visitors walk past a sculpture by South African artist Nicholas Hlobo in the main hall of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town on September 22, 2017. Africa's largest museum dedicated to the continent's contemporary art opened to the public in Cape Town on September 22, becoming the region's most significant new cultural space in decades.Image copyrightAFP

A sculpture by South African artist Nicholas Hlobo is on display at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art.

Pastor Evan Mawarire holds a Zimbabwean flag as he is escorted to the police cells, in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 26, 2017Image copyrightREUTERS

Zimbawean Pastor Evan Mawarire holds the national flag as he is escorted to the police cells in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday. Pastor Mawarire, who is the ounder of #ThisFlag movement, has been charged with subversion for criticising President Robert Mugabe’s government and its handling of the economic crisis.

A man washes cola nuts on 25 September 2017, in Anyama. Ivory coast is the first exporting country for cola, and second producer after NigeriaImage copyrightAFP

A man washes kola nuts on Monday in Ivory Coast’s south-eastern Anyama city. Ivory Coast is the world’s second-largest kola nut producer. Rich in caffeine, the bitter-tasting nut is chewed throughout West Africa.

Sudanese women walk by decorated camels on their way to receive President Omar al-Bashir as he visits the headquarters of the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force backed by the Sudanese government to fight rebels and guard the Sudan-Libya border, in the town of Umm al-Qura, northwest of Nyala in South Darfur provinceImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

In Sudan, women walk by camels to receive President Omar al-Bashir on a visit to the headquarters of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group in Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during a visit to the village of Shattaya in South DarfurImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

Mr Bashir’s government relies on the force to fight rebels, and to guard Sudan’s border with mostly lawless Libya.

Images courtesy of AFP, EPA, PA and Reuters