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  • #31
    Man finds diamond ring, letter in bottle that washed ashore on N.S. island

    HALIFAX -- Sending a message in a bottle as a way to communicate is not the first choice for many these days, but one Nova Scotia man might say otherwise.

    Sebastien Allain is an avid kite-surfer and was excited to hit the waves in Nova Scotia’s Chezzetcook Bay after borrowing some top-of-the-line gear from a friend.

    It didn’t take long, though, for Mother Nature to rain on his parade.

    “And there’s a strong gust that came and just flicked the kite into the water, and the wind was offshore, so it drove the kite out to sea,” said Allain.

    Feeling sick about losing his friend’s equipment, Allain decided to research tides and winds, and reasoned that the kite may have ended up on one of a number of small islands nearby.

    Determined to get it back, he swam to one island and, within four hours, he had found the missing gear – along with another unexpected find.

    “And as I was returning from the island, I just saw a bottle,” explained Allain.

    Allain picked up the bottle, which was corked and contained a note, and headed home to see what was inside.

    He was stunned to find a three-page note and a small ring.

    “We took the tape off and we realized it was a diamond ring,” said Allain.

    After reading the long letter, Allain learned the bottle was launched by a senior not too far away, who has been sending messages in bottles for 30 years. He also learned the ring belonged to the senior’s mother, who died in 2018.

    The discovery proved to be a bit surreal for Allain and his fiancée, who recently received a ring of her own.

    “It’s just crazy that I found the bottle and there was a diamond ring inside, and the funniest thing of all, is that I just proposed to my fiancée the week before,” said Allain.

    After learning in the letter that the bottle launcher was a local man in his 70s, Allain and his partner wanted to do something nice for him.

    “When he said he was 70 years old, we were like, ‘Oh gosh, maybe he’s living by himself, so we should get him something for Christmas,’” said Allain.

    “So we decided we would go up and visit him, and we brought him a little box of chocolates and stuff.”

    This isn’t the first time one of the senior’s bottles have been found.

    Another was found by a teacher, which prompted a flood of Christmas cards from students, which the man said he greatly appreciated.

    The senior declined to be interviewed, but he told CTV News he is pleased his bottles are making people happy.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • #32
      Ancient Treasures Discovered in Roman Shipwreck at Kasos

      Greek underwater divers and marine archaeologists have discovered hoards of ancient treasures onboard shipwrecks off the coast of Kasos Island. But now, a rare Roman shipwreck has been discovered, and the distant origins of its cargo are helping to paint a clearer picture of international trade in the ancient Mediterranean.

      Kasos, or Kassos, is the southernmost Greek island in the Aegean Sea located between Crete and Karpathos on what is a historic maritime trading route linking the Middle East with the Aegean. In ancient times the island was inhabited by Minoan and Mycenaean cultures and according to Homer's Iliad, “Kasos contributed ships toward the Trojan War .” Now, a Roman shipwreck has been discovered off the coast of Kasos Island and Greek authorities are saying it’s “filled with ancient treasures.”

      Recovering Sunken Treasures from Roman Shipwreck

      According to the news release by Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports , Kasos was “a crossroads of civilizations,” and an important navigation center from antiquity to recent years. It notes that, “remarkable archaeological finds have been made in shipwrecks located in the sea off the Greek island of Kasos.”

      In 2019 Greek archaeologists discovered three shipwrecks dating from several different historical periods and scientists found evidence that pointed towards an ancient port facility. I wrote a news feature for Ancient Origins at the time quoting Greek Reporter who reported that “the oldest of the wrecks was a 2,300-year-old trading ship upon which the archaeologists located five stone anchors, fine tableware, and amphorae, which were large clay jars used to transport oils, wines, and food. Two other ships were also found which dated to the 1st century BC and the 8th-10th century AD.” The recent discoveries, according to the Greek Ministry, are “another trove of ancient treasures.”

      An Expansive and Complex Subsea Archaeological Mission

      The new findings were made by researchers working on the second underwater research mission by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities , a special peripheral service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports , in collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research of the National Research Foundation . The Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities was founded in 1976 and its primary objective is the protection of the underwater antiquities discovered on ancient shipwrecks, settlements and harbors in the seas, lakes and rivers of Greece. In this project, twenty-three specialized scientists and technicians spent more than 200 hours beneath the waves, in more than 100 group dives.

      The underwater archaeology project discovered several shipwrecks including one carrying amphorae that had been produced in the North Aegean in the Hellenistic era in the 1st century BC and another with a cargo of amphorae from ancient Mendi dated to the Classical era in the 5th century BC. The most “significant find,” according to a report in Greek City Times , was a “Roman-era shipwreck carrying amphorae containing oil constructed in Spain in the area of Guadalquivir (1st to 3rd century AD), as well as Africana I amphorae made at the ceramic workshops of Africa Proconsularis and specifically in the region of present-day Tunisia.”

      Mapping Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean

      Kasos served as an ancient maritime crossroads for many centuries and became a hub of trade and the exchange of exotic products. Putting these new discoveries into historical context, the archaeologists started in 2019 with a map of the Mediterranean, but now, that map is filled with shipwrecks. What’s more, that map is now crisscrossed with a matrix lines, for every amphorae that’s taken to the surface tells a complex story not only of what people on Kasosconsumed, but also of the distant origins of these products.

      Combined with the 2019 discoveries of fine tableware and amphorae dating from the 1st century BC to some time between the the 8 th and 10 th century AD, this recent discovery of a Roman trading ship helps complete the emerging picture of Kasos as a center of long-distance trade and commerce. And this is why, even though no gold and silver is being discovered on the wreck, the Greek Ministry are calling this discovery of a Roman shipwreck “another trove of ancient treasures.”:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • #33
        Archaeologists Have Discovered a Pristine 45,000-Year-Old Cave Painting of a Pig That May Be the Oldest Artwork in the World

        Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world’s oldest-known representational artwork: three wild pigs painted deep in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi at least 45,500 years ago.

        The ancient images, revealed this week in the journal Science Advances, were found in Leang Tedongnge cave. Made with red ochre pigment, the painting appears to depict a group of Sulawesi warty pigs, two of which appear to be fighting. Those two images are badly damaged, but the third, possibly watching the drama unfold, remains in near-pristine condition.

        “The world’s oldest surviving representational image of an animal,” the paper noted, the painting “may also constitute the most ancient figurative artwork known to archaeology.”

        “I was struck dumb,” Adam Brumm of Griffith University, Australia, the article’s lead author, told NewScientist. “It’s one of the most spectacular and well-preserved figurative animal paintings known from the whole region, and it just immediately blew me away.”

        Archaeologist Basran Burhan, a Griffith University PhD student, discovered the cave and its prehistoric paintings in December 2017. It’s only accessible during the dry season, via a long trek over mountains through a rough forest path.

        Previously, the oldest-known figurative art was actually from a nearby cave, Leang Bulu’Sipong, discovered by the same team. Announced in late 2019, that 43,900-year-old work depicts eight figures with weapons in hand approaching wild pigs and small native buffaloes. In 2014, the archaeologists also made headlines with the discovery of an animal painting at least 35,700 years old, and hand stencils from some 40,000 years ago.

        As for the oldest art in the world, “it depends on what definition of ‘art’ you use,” Griffith University archaeologist Maxime Aubert, one of the paper’s co-authors, told National Geographic.

        Some archaeologists believe that red markings found in a South African cave in 2018 represent the world’s first known drawings, created an astonishing 73,000 years ago, and 64,000-year-old Neanderthal cave paintings were discovered in Spain in 2018.:
        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • #34
          An Idaho man capped off his goal of breaking 52 Guinness World Records in 52 weeks by recapturing the record for most juggling catches in 3 minutes with three balls.

          David Rush, who has broken more than 150 Guinness records to promote STEM education, said taking on the juggling record on New Year's Eve allowed him to complete his goal of setting 52 records in 52 weeks.

          Rush said the goal to beat was 1,320 catches -- an average of 440 per minute -- and he started off strong with 538 catches in the first minute. Rush completed 494 catches in the second minute and 475 in the third minute, finishing with a total 1,507 catches -- an average of 502.3 catches per minute.

          "If speed juggling for 1 minute is about like running a 400m dash, then juggling for 3 minutes is like trying to run at that same pace for a full kilometer," Rush said. "My arms burned like crazy at the end, but I'm glad to have this one back.":

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • #35
            Archaeologists Unearth 600-Year-Old Golden Eagle Sculpture at Aztec Temple

            The artwork is the largest bas-relief engraving found at the Templo Mayor to date

            Archaeologists conducting excavations at the Templo Mayor, or Great Temple, in Mexico City (once home to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán) have discovered a 600-year-old sculpture of a golden eagle, reports Ángela Reyes for CNN en Español.

            Led by Rodolfo Aguilar Tapia of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), researchers from the Templo Mayor Project unearthed the sculpture last February. The eagle—carved out of tezontle, a reddish volcanic rock commonly used in both pre-Hispanic and modern Mexico—measures 41.7 by 27.6 inches, making it the largest bas-relief (or low relief) work found at the pyramid-shaped temple to date.

            “It is a very beautiful piece that shows the great secrets that the Templo Mayor of Mexico Tenochtitlán has yet to reveal to us,” says Mexican Cultural Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero in a statement translated by Live Science’s Harry Baker. “Thanks to [the archaeologists’] effort and dedication, we can continue to recover our history and our memory.”

            As Ashley Cowie notes for Ancient Origins, the sculpture was carved into the floor on the central axis of a chapel devoted to sun and war god Huitzilopochtli and a monument honoring moon goddess Coyolxauhqui. Researchers think that craftspeople created the engraving in the mid-15th century, during the reign of Moctezuma I (1440–1469).

            Workers initially constructed the Templo Mayor under Itzcoatl (reigned 1427–1440). According to Mark Cartwright of Ancient History Encyclopedia, Moctezuma I and Ahuítzotl (reigned 1486–1502) later added to the temple by building over earlier structures. Both rulers sought to create a more elaborate monument than their predecessor, using materials and labor from neighboring tributaries to construct an ornate complex that eventually constituted 78 separate structures.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • #36
              Thailand's Mana Srivate has performed dozens of resuscitation attempts in his 26 years as a rescue worker, but never before on an elephant.

              Mana was called into action while off duty on a road trip late on Sunday, successfully reviving a baby elephant struck by a motorcycle while crossing a road with a group of wild pachyderms in Chanthaburi Province.

              In a video that went viral on social media in Thailand on Monday, Mana is seen giving two-handed compressions to a small elephant lying on its side as colleagues a few meters away treat a dazed and injured motorcycle rider on the floor.

              Both the rider and elephant were recovering and neither had serious injuries.

              "I assumed where an elephant heart would be located based on human theory and a video clip I saw online," Mana told Reuters by phone.

              Dont get sick of me just yet, for I will be here for quite a while


              • #37
                A Massive, 46-Foot-Tall Floating Art Installation Has Taken Over Grand Central

                Up now through Saturday (January 16) in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station is the “Da Vinci of Debt.” The towering, 46-foot high piece of art is made entirely from 2,600 real college diplomas, and is an effort from none other than infamous beer brand Natural Light to call attention to the rising cost of a college education in American history.

                The exhibit is part of Natural Light’s 10 year, $10 million dollar commitment to pay down student loans via its College Debt Relief Program.

                The company has also determined that it is the most expensive piece of art ever made, since the average cost of a four-year college education in America is $180,000…times 2,600 diplomas..equals an inherent value of $470 million dollars (the most experience piece of art sold for $450 million in 2017, a 600-year-old Da Vinci painting).

                The creation also draws parallels between the ridiculously high costs of “fine art” (like a single banana for $120,000) and cost of attending college in America, which has reached a new record high in 2021 of $1.7 trillion in total debt.

                “The art world is filled with absurd price tags that most people find impossible to justify,” said Daniel Blake, Vice President of Value Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “That’s what made it the perfect medium for this campaign. It’s a very fitting analogy for the outrageous cost of attending a typical four-year college. Through Da Vinci of Debt, we hope to inspire action around the college debt crisis and drive more fans to enter for a chance to have the Natty College Debt Relief Program pay down their student loans.”

                The piece is quite mesmerizing, as the diplomas are suspended in mid-air by clear cables, so they appear to be floating and flying through the 6,000 square foot space in Grand Central. It’s in a “helix” formation, alluding to the stress and overwhelm college debt causes for students.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • #38
                  Scores Are Feared Dead In India After Himalayan Glacier Breaks Away

                  A massive search-and-rescue operation was underway Sunday in northern India for at least 140 people missing after part of a Himalayan glacier broke off, triggering an avalanche of rock, mud, water and debris that swept away a hydroelectric dam.

                  Video recorded by witnesses from across a valley showed a torrent of water and debris breaking through a dam that's part of the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project, more than 300 miles north of New Delhi.

                  "It came very fast. There was no time to alert anyone," local resident Sanjay Singh Rana told Reuters. "I felt that even we would be swept away."

                  Many of those missing are believed to be workers at the dam. Police say that nine bodies have been recovered so far and that at least 140 people are missing. The chief minister of India's Uttarakhand state, Trivendra Singh Rawat, told reporters that the figure could rise.

                  The disaster began around 10:45 a.m. local time when part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in an ecologically fragile area of Uttarakhand, an Indian state bordering Nepal and China, high in the Himalayas. Environmentalists have long cautioned against building dams and power plants there, because it's so prone to landslides and flooding.

                  In 2013, record monsoon rainfall triggered floods that killed about 6,000 people in what was dubbed the "Himalayan tsunami" because it swept away homes, roads and bridges in Uttarakhand.

                  It wasn't immediately clear what caused the glacier to break away early Sunday. While climate change has contributed to the shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers, February is still winter in Uttarakhand and not typically the time of year when its glaciers melt.

                  There was at least one joyful rescue Sunday: Indian journalists shared footage on social media of disaster relief workers pulling a man out from a tunnel where he'd been buried alive. The victim throws his arms up in the air in celebration and then falls forward into the mud, as people clap and cheer around him.

                  By nightfall, villages had been evacuated downstream from the broken Rishiganga dam, along tributaries of the mighty Ganges River. The neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous, also put riverside areas on high alert.

                  "India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone's safety there," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

                  The Nanda Devi glacier lies near a peak of the same name, which at 25,643 feet is India's second-highest mountain. Its name means "blessed goddess," and the mountain itself is worshipped in local Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The surrounding Nanda Devi National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.:
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • #39
                    Archaeologists in Egypt Discover Mummy With Gold Tongue

                    Archaeologists conducting excavations at the temple of Taposiris Magna in western Alexandria, Egypt, have unearthed a 2,000-year-old mummy with a gold tongue.

                    As Nihal Samir reports for Daily News Egypt, researchers from a dual Egyptian-Dominican mission discovered the golden-tongued mummy while surveying 16 poorly preserved burials encased in rock-cut crypts—a popular form of interment during Egypt’s Greco-Roman period.

                    Crafted out of gold foil, the tongue-shaped amulet was likely placed in the deceased’s mouth to ensure they’d be able to speak in the afterlife, per a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. (Egypt Independent’s Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that researchers at the Alexandria National Museum are now studying two such gold foil amulets, as well as eight golden flakes representing the leaves of a wreath.)

                    If the individual encountered Osiris, god of the underworld, in his domain, they would have needed a way to communicate with the deity, notes Owen Jarus for Live Science. The team is unsure whether the mummy had a speech impediment in life and why exactly the artificial tongue was made out of gold.

                    In the statement, lead archaeologist Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo says that two of the most significant mummies found at the site were wrapped in gilded cartonnage, or plastered layers of linen or papyrus. One of the mummies sported golden decorations depicting Osiris, while the other wore a horned crown with a cobra snake affixed to its band and a necklace featuring a falcon, the symbol of the god Horus. The researchers also recovered the remains of ancient scrolls buried alongside the mummies.

                    Ancient embalmers likely placed the tongue-shaped, gold foil amulet in the deceased’s mouth to ensure they could speak in the afterlife

                    Archaeologists conducting excavations at the temple of Taposiris Magna in western Alexandria, Egypt, have unearthed a 2,000-year-old mummy with a gold tongue.

                    As Nihal Samir reports for Daily News Egypt, researchers from a dual Egyptian-Dominican mission discovered the golden-tongued mummy while surveying 16 poorly preserved burials encased in rock-cut crypts—a popular form of interment during Egypt’s Greco-Roman period.

                    Crafted out of gold foil, the tongue-shaped amulet was likely placed in the deceased’s mouth to ensure they’d be able to speak in the afterlife, per a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. (Egypt Independent’s Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that researchers at the Alexandria National Museum are now studying two such gold foil amulets, as well as eight golden flakes representing the leaves of a wreath.)

                    If the individual encountered Osiris, god of the underworld, in his domain, they would have needed a way to communicate with the deity, notes Owen Jarus for Live Science. The team is unsure whether the mummy had a speech impediment in life and why exactly the artificial tongue was made out of gold.

                    In the statement, lead archaeologist Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo says that two of the most significant mummies found at the site were wrapped in gilded cartonnage, or plastered layers of linen or papyrus. One of the mummies sported golden decorations depicting Osiris, while the other wore a horned crown with a cobra snake affixed to its band and a necklace featuring a falcon, the symbol of the god Horus. The researchers also recovered the remains of ancient scrolls buried alongside the mummies.

                    Ptolemy II, son of Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy I, founded Taposiris Magna around 280 B.C. The city’s name translates to “great tomb of Osiris,” and Egyptian lore holds that god’s body (or at least a dismembered part of it) was buried there, according to Chip Brown of National Geographic. A number of temples dedicated to Osiris and Isis, a healing goddess who was also his wife and sister, stood within Taposiris Magna’s walls. The temple where scholars uncovered the golden-tongued mummy was among the religious sites honoring the god of the underworld.

                    Over the past ten years, Martinez and her colleagues have found a number of important archaeological finds that “changed [their] perception” of the temple, notes the statement.

                    Other highlights of the most recent excavation include a woman’s nearly full-body funeral mask, statues portraying people interred at the site, and eight marble masks dated to the Greek and Roman eras, per the statement. Archaeologists had previously discovered a cache of coins embossed with Cleopatra’s face at Taposiris Magna, implying that Egyptians used the temples during her reign (51–30 B.C.).

                    Per the statement, the statues depicting people buried at the site were well preserved. Archaeologists could still distinguish their hairstyles, headdresses and facial features.

                    Though scholars don’t know exactly when these individuals died, Live Science reports that they lived either under the Ptolemaic dynasty (304 B.C. to 30 B.C.) or during the early days of Roman rule, which began with Cleopatra’s death in 30 B.C.:
                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • #40
                      A new chameleon species may be the world’s tiniest reptile

                      Hidden beneath the leaf litter of a northern Malagasy forest lives a chameleon so slight that it could tumble off the tip of your finger. Measuring just under 30 millimeters from snout to tail, the newly described species, Brookesia nana, may be the smallest reptile on Earth, researchers report January 28 in Scientific Reports.

                      Just two adult specimens, a male and female, are known. The female measures 28.9 millimeters, considerably larger than the 21.6-millimeter-long male. The size difference may have driven the male’s genitalia to be quite large — nearly 20 percent of its body length — to be a better fit to his mate, herpetologist Frank Glaw of the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich and colleagues suggest.

                      Dubbed B. nana for its nano size, the species belongs to a genus of at least 13 other small chameleons spread out across the mountainous forests of northern Madagascar. Why B. nana and its cousins shrank to such minuscule proportions remains a mystery, though smallness does have its benefits: There’s some evidence that small chameleons are especially good shots with their ballistic tongues.

                      In daylight, Brookesia chameleons scour the forest floor, snatching up mites and other small invertebrates, Glaw’s team suspects. At night, the lizards retreat upward, gripping blades of grass or other plants for safety.

                      Deforestation and habitat degradation threaten B. nana’s future, the researchers say, though the region where the compact chameleons were found was recently designated a protected area by the Malagasy government. The species may soon be listed as critically endangered, the gravest rating made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.:
                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • #41
                        San Diego man reunited with wallet lost in Antarctica 53 years ago

                        San Carlos — In October 1967, Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham shipped out to Antarctica, where he worked as a weather forecaster for a science station and airport on Ross Island. Thirteen months later, he returned to his family in sunny California, but his wallet never left.

                        On Saturday, the now 91-year-old Grisham was reunited with his long-lost billfold, which was found behind a locker during the demolition of a building at McMurdo Station, the southernmost town on Earth.

                        Inside the recovered wallet was Grisham’s Navy ID, his driver’s license, a tax withholding statement, a recipe for homemade Kahlua and several items other so-called “ice rats” who worked at the station might recognize. There was a beer ration punch card, receipts for money orders sent to his wife for his poker winnings at the station, and a pocket reference card with instructions for what to do in the event of an atomic, biological or chemical weapons attack. There was never any cash, as there was nothing to buy at the station.

                        The brown leather wallet arrived by mail in good condition following a weeks-long journey of emails, Facebook messages and letters between a group of amateur sleuths working to trace its owner. After 53 years, Grisham said he can’t even remember losing his wallet on the continent he calls “The Ice,” but he’s grateful for the efforts that enabled its return.

                        “I was just blown away,” said Grisham, who lives in San Carlos with his wife of 18 years, Carole Salazar. “There was a long series of people involved who tracked me down and ran me to ground.”

                        The team who found Grisham were Stephen Decato and his daughter Sarah Lindbergh, both of New Hampshire, and Bruce McKee of the Indiana Spirit of ’45 nonprofit foundation. It was the third lost Navy item the trio have recently returned to families. Last year, Decato got upset when he saw someone’s personal Navy ID bracelet for sale in a shop. He decided to buy the bracelet and, with his daughter’s help, find the owner and return it. Lindbergh found the Facebook page for McKee’s veterans tribute organization and he posted a notice online that helped trace the original owner.

                        Before he retired six years ago, Decato worked for an agency that does snow cap research in Antarctica. When his former boss, George Blaisdell, heard about Decato’s success with the ID bracelet, he decided to mail Decato a couple of wallets that had been recovered from the building demolished at McMurdo Station in 2014. Once again, Lindbergh reached out to McKee, who contacted Gary Cox of the Naval Weather Service Association, of which Grisham is a member. The second wallet belonged to a man named Paul Howard who died in 2016, but his family was grateful to receive it.

                        “If it was my dad’s possessions, I would have treasured it as I think they will,” said Lindbergh, whose grandfather served in the Navy. “It was a feel-good thing to do and both my dad and I have gone to bed thinking that another family was as happy as we are. My grandpa would be so proud and my dad is proud to have things in their rightful places.”

                        Looking back on the 13 months he spent in Antarctica, Grisham said it was an unusual, memorable and sometimes tedious experience that he most remembers for the unremitting cold. The average daily temperature was 25 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the winter months, it dropped as low as -65 degrees during his stay.

                        “Let me just say this, if I took a can of soda pop and set it outside on the step, if I didn’t retrieve it in 14 minutes it would pop open because it had frozen,” Grisham said.

                        Raised in Douglas, Ariz., Grisham enlisted in the Navy in 1948. He started out as a weather technician, then moved up to weather forecaster and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in Antarctica. His job took him to duty stations in Guam, Hawaii and Japan, and he served twice aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

                        He spent four years aboard the USS Bennington in the 1950s and ‘60s, and a two-year stint on the USS Hancock during the Vietnam War. He was onboard the Hancock in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon, when the ship’s flight deck crews had to push empty helicopters overboard to make room for new ones touching down with evacuating U.S. military personnel and refugees.

                        In between those shipboard assignments, Grisham was assigned duty in Antarctica as part of “Operation Deep Freeze,” where the Navy provided logistical support to civilian scientists on the frozen continent. At the time, Grisham was in his mid-30s and married with two toddlers.

                        “I went down there kicking and screaming,” he said.

                        Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham, left, during his promotion to the rank of lieutenant in Antarctica, in 1968.

                        Grisham said it’s hard to grasp the vastness and remoteness of Antarctica. It’s the size of North America and the journey to get there by ship from New Zealand is 1,100 nautical miles. Most of Antarctica is covered with ice up to 10,000 feet thick, but McMurdo Station is one of the few places that sits on an exposed landmass of volcanic rock. During Antarctica’s summer months, which are our winter months, Grisham said there were as many as 1,100 workers at the station. But during the Antarctic winter, the onsite staff shrunk to 180 because sea ice and sub-freezing temperatures make travel and supply runs impossible.

                        During the winter, all of the food was canned and workers passed the time playing cards, chess, the backgammon-like game of acey-doucey and bowling at a two-lane alley. His sole luxury was a daily after-work martini. Once a week he talked to his wife, Wilma, via a voice relay through two shortwave radio operators. The year’s highlight was a morale-lifting visit from Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand mountaineer who crested Mt. Everest in 1953. He’d traveled to Antarctica that year for a climbing expedition.

                        In 1977, Grisham retired from the Navy and settled in Monterey, where Wilma passed away in 2000. A year later, while vacationing in Paris, he met Salazar, who lost her husband, Gil, in 1995. They struck up a conversation on the bus to Orly Airport and five weeks later he came to visit her in San Diego. They married in 2003 and have four adult children between them, including Carole’s son Vic Salazar, who was a longtime local TV anchor for KNSD 7/39 (now NBC7).

                        McKee, with Indiana Spirit of ’45, said he’s delighted to know that Grisham was pleased at the return of his wallet. An Air Force veteran himself, he knows the value of military mementos.

                        “I have a deep love for those that serve and their stories,” McKee said. “Something such as an old wallet can mean so much to someone with the memories that item holds.”:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • #42
                          Here's the historic first clone of a US endangered species

                          Elizabeth Anne was born Dec. 10.

                          Scientists for the first time have successfully cloned an endangered U.S. species, a landmark achievement aimed at exploring ways to boost conservation efforts.

                          A black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann was cloned from the frozen cells of Willa, a member of the species that lived more than 30 years ago, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Willa died in 1988 and was frozen as cloning research at the time was just getting underway.

                          Elizabeth Anne was born Dec. 10 to a surrogate mother and is being cared for at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Fort Collins, Colo. Researchers say a genomic study showed Willa’s genome possessed three times more unique variations than the population living in the wild, meaning if the cloned animal successfully mates and reproduces, she could provide genetic diversity to the endangered species. The achievement gives conservationists hope the process could help other endangered species return to the wild.

                          “We’ve come a long way since 2013 when we began the funding, permitting, design and development of this project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Ryan Phelan, executive director of biotechnology nonprofit involved in the project Revive and Restore, said in a statement.

                          “Genomics revealed the genetic value that Willa could bring to her species. But it was a commitment to seeing this species survive that has led to the successful birth of Elizabeth Ann. To see her now thriving ushers in a new era for her species and for conservation-dependent species everywhere. She is a win for biodiversity and for genetic rescue,” Phelan said.

                          The black-footed ferret is the only ferret species native to North America and has been classified as an endangered species in the U.S. since 1967. The species was brought back from nearly vanishing forever by FWS after a small population of the animals were discovered on a Wyoming rancher’s land.

                          Last summer, researchers in the U.S. successfully cloned the endangered Przewalski horse that is native to central Asia.: -

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • #43
                            A 'uniquely American whale': new species discovered off southern US coast

                            Genetic analysis and a close examination of the skulls from a group of baleen whales in the north-eastern Gulf of Mexico have revealed that they are a new species.

                            “I was surprised that there could be an unrecognized species of whale out there, especially in our backyard,” says Lynsey Wilcox, a geneticist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who helped uncover the new species. “I never imagined I would be describing a new species in my career, so it is a very exciting discovery.”

                            The newly described whales weren’t exactly hiding in plain sight. With a population estimated at fewer than 100, the new whales – which researchers have dubbed Rice’s whales after American biologist Dale Rice – aren’t commonly seen even in the corner of the Gulf of Mexico they call home. It doesn’t help that the whales, previously believed to be a population of Bryde’s whales, have a feeding strategy that takes them deep under the water around DeSoto Canyon, about 100km south of Mobile, Alabama.

                            Researchers have long known that this group of Bryde’s-like whales in the Gulf of Mexico was different. They seemed to mostly stay put in the north-eastern corner of the gulf, and didn’t mingle with Bryde’s whales, which are found in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They also feed near the seafloor, while most Bryde’s whales typically forage near the surface.

                            But it’s difficult even for experts to tell large baleen whales apart in the field – so much so that Bryde’s whales sometimes get confused with fin whales, says John Hildebrand, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego who was not involved in the recent study.

                            To definitively tell similar-looking species apart, scientists need genetic evidence and a close examination of the animal’s morphology, Wilcox says.

                            Wilcox’s colleagues first began collecting tissue samples from Rice’s whales in 2000, eventually collecting samples from 36 different individuals. Comparing their genes with Bryde’s whales, Wilcox says she and her colleagues “noticed that they weren’t quite what was expected”.

                            To compare their morphologies, the scientists inspected skeletons held in museums. Then, in January 2019, an 11-meter-long Rice’s whale washed up on a key in the Florida Everglades. Examining the whales’ skulls revealed some differences in the shape and size of the bone material around the blowhole compared with Bryde’s whales and Eden’s whales, another close cousin.

                            The genetic and skeletal differences together were enough to warrant a new species designation, Wilcox says.

                            Hildebrand agrees that this “uniquely American whale” should be recognized as a new species. While normally some researchers might want to see the genes of more individuals than the three dozen examined by Wilcox and her colleagues, Hildebrand says that isn’t practical considering how few Rice’s whales there are.

                            “This paper is the best we can do right now to demonstrate that they are different – it’s perfectly adequate,” he says.

                            Rice’s whales are already considered endangered by the United States. They were listed under the Endangered Species Act as a population of Bryde’s whales in April 2019, and the discovery that they are a distinct species is unlikely to change much – other than requiring an update of their name. Living in the Gulf of Mexico, the whales face threats from oil spills, ship strikes, ocean noise and entanglement in fishing gear.

                            Hildebrand says the whales are particularly vulnerable to ship strikes because they have the “unfortunate habit” of sleeping at night just under the sea’s surface.

                            “At night you wouldn’t see them,” he says. “A ship traveling past could come right up and hit them.” Hildebrand speculates that the whales might once have been more widespread in areas with deeper water, but they are now holing up in an area that sees less ship traffic.

                            “They are the most endangered, or nearly the most endangered, baleen whales in US waters,” Hildebrand says. “In terms of the responsibility for the health of the whale, it really does fall on us.”:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • #44
                              Conch shell found in French cave oldest known seashell instrument

                              A conch shell found during the excavation of a cave with prehistoric wall paintings in France is believed to be the oldest known seashell instrument - and it still works.

                              The large shell was discovered in 1931 during the uncovering of the cave in the French Pyrenees, and was assumed to be a ceremonial drinking cup.

                              After sitting in a museum for decades, researchers took a fresh look and determined it had been modified thousands of years ago to become a wind instrument.

                              They invited a French horn player to play it, producing a deep, plaintive sound like a foghorn from the distant past.

                              Archaeologists from the University of Toulouse estimate it to be around 18,000 years old.

                              They published their findings in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

                              “Hearing it for the first time, for me it was a big emotion — and a big stress,” said archaeologist Carole Fritz.

                              She feared that playing the 12-inch shell might damage it, but it didn't. The horn produced clear C, C sharp and D notes.

                              Conch shells have been used widely in musical and ceremonial traditions, including in ancient Greece, Japan, India and Peru. The shell instrument found in the Marsoulas cave is now the oldest known example.

                              Previously, a conch shell instrument found in Syria had been dated to about 6,000 years old, said another Toulouse archaeologist, Gilles Tosello.

                              The latest discovery was made after a recent inventory at the Natural History Museum of Toulouse.

                              The researchers noticed some unusual holes in the shell. Crucially, the tip of the shell was broken off, creating a hole large enough to blow through. Microscopic inspection revealed the opening was the result of deliberate craftsmanship, not accidental wear, according to Tosello.

                              By inserting a tiny medical camera, they found that another hole had been carefully drilled in the shell's inner chamber. They also detected traces of red pigment on the mouth of the conch, matching a decorative pattern found on the wall of Marsoulas cave.

                              “This is classic, really solid archaeology,” said Margaret Conkey, an archaeologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research.

                              “This discovery reminds us that their lives were much richer and more complex than just stone tools and big game.”

                              Marsoulas cave is not located near an ocean, so the prehistoric people must have either moved around widely or used trading networks to obtain the shell, Conkey and the researchers said.

                              “What makes conch shells so interesting is that the spiral cavity formed by nature is perfectly adept at resonating musically,” said Rasoul Morteza, a composer in Montreal who has studied conch shell acoustics, and was not involved in the paper.

                              Using a 3D replica, the archaeologists plan to continue studying the horn's range of notes.

                              Tosello said he hopes to hear the ancient instrument played inside the cave where it was found.

                              “It’s amazing when there’s an object forgotten somewhere, and suddenly it comes again into the light,” he said.: -

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • #45
                                Puppy born with six legs is a 'miracle,' vet hospital says

                                Like other newborn puppies, Skipper likes to eat, drink water and go to the bathroom.

                                But the border collie and Australian shepherd mix is unique from the rest of her litter: She was born with six legs.

                                "This is a miracle named Skipper. Literally," Neel Veterinary Hospital in Oklahoma wrote on its Facebook page on February 21. "She has survived longer than we suspect any other canine has (at just 4 days old - published research does not indicate one has been born alive) with her combination of congenital conditions. You might notice she looks a little different - 6 legs!"

                                Skipper was born naturally -- along with eight brothers and sisters -- on February 16 in Oklahoma during a big snowstorm, Dr. Tina Neel, owner of the Neel Veterinary Hospital, told CNN.

                                After the storm, Neel said Skipper's owners brought her in to the hospital so vets could examine her.

                                "Our doctors knew that we needed further imaging to determine a diagnosis so we donated the service of an abdominal ultrasound," Neel told CNN.

                                "The ultrasound, along with radiographs, showed that she had two types of congenital disorders, called monocephalus dipygus and monocephalus rachipagus dibrachius tetrapus, which means she has one head and chest cavity but two pelvic regions, two lower urinary tracts, two reproductive regions, two tails and six legs, among other things."

                                Neel said Skipper was likely part of a twin in utero "and when the fertilized egg tried to split, it didn't fully separate."

                                "So only the back half of her body was able to duplicate," Neel said. "She also has signs of Spina Bifida along her spine."

                                One week after her birth, Neel said Skipper is thriving.

                                "She is strong girl! She loves to nurse and is able to scoot around just like a regular puppy," Neel said. "We think that she may have some things to overcome, but she is determined right now and thriving. Our veterinarians and her family don't see any reason not to give her the best chance a great life."

                                However, the vets are still monitoring Skipper, given the uniqueness of her situation.

                                "We will continue to research her conditions, monitor her development during rechecks and help keep Skipper pain-free and comfortable for the rest of life," the vet hospital wrote in its Facebook post. "She is doing well at home now."

                                help keep Skipper pain-free:
                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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