Published on Nov 6, 2013
Dr. Annalee Newitz is an editor of i09, was a lecturer at UC Berkeley, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a journalist at Wired, and author of ‘Scatter, Adapt, and Remember’.
Protesters debate with a woman, right, outside the Ohel Moshe synagogue on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. Kaparot rituals have been held at the synagogue’s parking lot. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times / September 10, 2013)
In a parking lot behind a Pico Boulevard building, inside a makeshift tent made of metal poles and tarps, a man in a white coat and black skullcap grabs a white-feathered hen under the wings and performs an ancient ritual.
He circles the chicken in the air several times and recites a prayer for a woman standing nearby whose aim is to symbolically transfer her sins to the bird. The young man then uses a sharp blade to cut the hen’s throat.
In the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, this ritual will be repeated untold times in hastily built plywood rooms and other structures in traditional Orthodox Jewish communities from Pico-Robertson to Brooklyn. Promotional fliers on lampposts in this neighborhood advertise the kaparot service at $18 per chicken or $13 apiece for five or more.
But the practice is increasingly drawing the ire of animal rights activists, and some liberal Jews, who say the custom is inhumane, paganistic and out of step with modern times.
“An animal sacrifice in this day and age?” said Wendie Dox, a Reform Jew and animal rights activist who lives nearby. “That is not OK with me.”
This year, activists have launched one of the largest, most organized efforts ever in the Southland to protest the practice, known variously as kaparot, kapparot or kaparos.
Over the weekend, a coalition of faith leaders and animal rights proponents held a “compassionate kaparot ceremony” during which rabbis used money rather than chickens for the ritual, an accepted alternative. Organizers say that more than 100 people attended and that some stayed to demonstrate late into the night.
Posted Sep 11, 2013
Swinging chickens over the head is part of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Kaparot ritual in the Ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel,Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. Observers believe the ritual transfers one’s sins from the past year into the chicken, and is performed before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year which starts at sundown Friday.
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man swings a chicken over his head as part of the Kaparot ritual in the Ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel,Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. Observers believe the ritual transfers one’s sins from the past year into the chicken, and is performed before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year which starts at sundown Friday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews hold chickens as part of the Kaparot ritual in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
The Euless neighborhood is mostly quiet, a sleepy suburb of pleasant ranch-style homes, winding creeks and mossy oaks that looks as if it could have been plucked from any American city. Except, of course, for the ancient gods that populate the home and religion of one of the area’s most controversial residents.
But Jose Merced doesn’t shy away from controversy—and he has no plans of doing so on this crisp day in late September. No matter that his neighbors remain uneasy with the ritual singing and drumming that are part of his Santería religion; no matter that they might, as before, call the police if they feared he was engaging in animal sacrifice; no matter that the city of Euless, even after losing a drawn-out lawsuit that tested the boundaries of religious liberty in Texas, is still searching for new ways to shut down Merced’s spiritual practices. For him, the deities who reside in the back room of his house have been silenced long enough.
It’s been nearly three and a half years since he stopped the ritual slaughter of four-legged animals in his home to pursue litigation against the city over his right to do so. With a decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in his favor and against the city’s health and safety concerns, Merced, a flight attendant, will resume his full religious practices tonight.
As the sacrificial hour approaches, several priests (Santeros) are preparing the 40 assorted goats, roosters, hens, guinea hens, pigeons, quail, turtle and duck who grow noisy and nervous in their cages. Their lives will be taken in an exchange mandated by Olofi, Santería’s supreme god and source of all energy, to heal the broken body and spirit of Virginia Rosario-Nevarez and to initiate her into the Santería priesthood. No medical doctor has been able to alleviate her suffering—the intractable back pain that makes walking unbearable, her debilitating depression and loneliness.
During a spiritual reading, lesser deities have told Merced that for Nevarez to be healed, she must become a priestess. In the initiation ceremony for priesthood, a high priest will sacrifice animals, which must die so she can live a healthy and spiritual life. In a theology similar to Christian grace in which Jesus died to forgive the sins of his followers, the animals will be offered in sacrifice to Olofi and the other deities (Orishas), who will purge her of negative energy as she makes her commitment to them.
Mounted against a wall in the back room shrine in Merced’s house are shelves containing clusters of small ceramic pots, ornately decorated and filled with shells, stones and other artifacts—the physical manifestations of the Orishas that reside in the room. To initiate Nevarez as a priestess, new godly manifestations of the old gods on Merced’s shelf must be born. To make this happen, animal blood will be spilled onto new pots, which the priestess will take home to begin her own shrine with her own newly manifested gods.
Much of theology behind Santería’s rituals remains unknown to Nevarez, though more of its secrets will be revealed to her as she grows in her commitment.
Secrecy defines the Santería religion, which is why estimates, even by its own followers, of the number of its U.S. adherents vary widely between one and five million. The religion’s clandestine nature was also a point of contention during the lawsuit. At trial, the city asked Merced if its health officials could witness a sacrifice to determine if it violated Euless’ ordinances prohibiting animal cruelty, the possession of livestock and the disposal of animal remains, but Merced said only initiated priests were permitted to see one. The exclusion of outsiders stems from the long history of persecution Santería’s followers suffered. Santería came to Cuba from West Africa during the slave trade centuries ago, a peculiar melding of the Yoruba religious traditions of captured slaves and the Catholicism of their masters. Slaves were forbidden from practicing their indigenous beliefs, so they hid that practice from their oppressors, adopting the names of Catholic saints for their Orishas (Saint Peter for Ogun, for example) whose divine intervention they could call upon when seeking protection, health and wisdom.
But tonight, Merced has had enough of secrecy. The litigation has taken a toll on his physical appearance. He looks heavier, grayer, worn out. The national media generated by the case, however, has left him more comfortable with the presence of strangers in his house, even with local news trucks parked in his front yard. And this evening Merced is allowing his first nonbeliever to witness an animal sacrifice.
“I’m going to let her see one and that’s it,” he says, standing in front of a long, flowing curtain concealing the entrance to his shrine. He is unwilling to listen to any who oppose the outsider observing the ceremony. Some in the shrine raise their eyebrows but return to the task at hand. They figure Merced’s deities are in control today. If he’s allowing the Orishas to be seen by a nonbeliever, then the gods must be OK with it.
Merced has recently disregarded other premonitions of danger. Three days earlier in his home, he held a séance for Nevarez in preparation for her priestly initiation. Ten members, all wearing white, gathered inside his converted garage, now a spare kitchen. On top of a white tablecloth sat a crucifix, prayer books, pencils, paper and a fishbowl of water—there to cleanse the spirits from negative to positive. Hanging on the wall were decorative hollowed-out gourds, painted in primary colors to represent a handful of the 60 or so Orishas in Santería. In one corner sat a life-size female black doll dressed in a flowing skirt and bandanna, a half-empty bottle of rum and lighted candles placed nearby.
One of the Santeros at the table knotted his face, his expression troubled. He began to grunt and take short breathes, acting possessed by the spirit, which came alive through him and asked for some rum. A woman handed him a gourd brimming with white Bacardi. As he gulped the rum, he walked hastily toward Merced.
This was a negative spirit, and it had a message: It would be best for Merced to leave the area or send everybody away from his home and remain alone.
Merced folded his arms defensively across his chest. Time and again, throughout his legal troubles, lawyers, neighbors, friends and even Santeros had proposed he do the same. Why didn’t he just leave Euless? Worship somewhere else? Why come out and create so much controversy when he could just keep things secret and live in peace like the others? To Merced, this spirit represented an insult to everything he had accomplished.
“How dare you?” accused Merced, reminding the spirit that it was “immaterial”—and in Merced’s house. “I don’t have to go anywhere. I’m going to keep up the fight.”
Jose Merced never intended to be the face of Santería in North Texas, although he might argue that it was his fate.
He grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and recalls his childhood as happy and stable—that is, until his father left the family. Merced, at 12, felt abandoned and grew physically ill, developing a sharp, chronic pain in his stomach and intestines. A medical doctor suggested exploratory surgery, but his mother wouldn’t hear of it.
She had grown up in a home where regular séances took place between family members. When pregnant with Jose, a stranger stopped her in a shoe store and told her she would give birth to a male child on April 20 who would possess the gift of spirituality. Merced was born on April 19 and early on became intrigued with the spiritual realm.
After Merced became ill, he asked his mother to bring him to a woman his mother had been seeing for private spiritual readings. Even without him mentioning it, the woman told him about his intestinal pains and his nightmares. Hoping she could cure him, Merced began attending weekly séances at her home. Many of those attending wore colorful, beaded necklaces, and he asked the woman how he could get some. She told him those who wore the necklaces were followers of Santería, and he could only get them when he needed them, not when he wanted them. A year and a half later, she did a reading for him with the deities of Santería and told him it was time.
At 14, he donned his collares—necklaces that represented the protection granted by the Orishas. For a short while, Merced, who weighed 210 pounds, began to feel better, but it didn’t last. “Spirits also can bother you when you’re not knowing or understanding what it is you come in life to do,” he now explains.
The woman became his godmother in Santería, and she continued to treat him with herbal potions and spiritual readings. Over the next 18 months, he lost 60 pounds and had good months as well as bad.
Finally, Merced says that the Orishas spoke through the woman and told her that the only way to make his pain disappear was to get initiated as a priest. Merced was ready, but the ceremony was expensive, $3,000, and he didn’t have enough money. For a year after graduating high school, Merced saved up, working as a clerk for the Puerto Rico Department of Education in San Juan. By early 1979, with his mother’s help, he had saved enough money, though he still had no idea what to expect.
He had helped with other initiations at his godmother’s house but was never allowed inside the shrine-room. “I saw the animals going in alive and coming out dead,” Merced recalls. But he had no idea why. He helped by cleaning or cutting up the meat or plucking chicken feathers. Sometimes he would ask the people outside the room what was happening inside. “And when you asked something, all they answered was, ‘It is a secret.’ If you’re not crowned [a priest], you’re not supposed to know. So when I went in to my ceremony, I didn’t have a clue.”
On the day of his initiation, he was called inside the shrine and told to keep his eyes closed. Four hours later, he was dressed in regal-looking robes, his head completely shaven. Later he was told he had been possessed by his Orisha, but he remembered nothing.
After the crowning ceremony, it was time for the animal sacrifice. As the animals were brought in, he was told to touch his head to the animal’s head and its hooves to other areas of his body. The animal was absorbing his negativity. He had to chew pieces of coconut, swallowing the juice but spitting the coconut meat into the animal’s ear.
He would later learn that this was necessary for the “the exchange ceremony,” which came next. The pieces of coconut represented Merced’s message—his thoughts, feelings, needs—which were transferred to the goat for direct passage to Olofi. His physical contact with the animal was also symbolic of his commitment to God. As soon as the animal’s blood was spilled, Merced’s negativity, which had been absorbed by the goat, was released. The purified blood then spilled into the pots.
Shortly after the initiation, he says his stomach pains subsided. “I never, ever have felt again the same pain that I used to feel before,” he says.
Although he had little contact with his father, a nonbeliever, he invited him to his divination readings two days later. His father also visited him at his mother’s house immediately after the seven-day ceremony concluded. Merced was wearing all-white, his head shaved clean, and his father insisted this was all his mother’s doing—she was the one who had become a priestess a year earlier. His father demanded he end these religious practices and join the National Guard like he had. Merced told him, no: He had become a priest for health reasons, and he refused to let him shake his faith, particularly after his father had been so uninvolved in his life for so long.
If his father had learned anything from the divination readings, he would know what the Orishas had in store for his son. The priest had told him he would travel the world. He told him he would become a priest who would initiate others. And he told him that people would have reason to remember his name.
The first year of his priesthood was a difficult one. At the department of education, many of his co-workers would shoot him strange, even hostile glances when he wore his necklace and dressed in the all-white attire his religion required him to wear in the year following his intiation.
In 1989, he learned about a job opening with a commercial airline, and the next year he began to work for the company in Dallas. The work was good, but his spiritual life suffered.
He didn’t know any Santeros here and removed his necklaces to avoid drawing attention to himself. “I didn’t want people to know [about my religion],” Merced says. “That’s hiding. And I lived hiding for a long, long time.”
A closet in his apartment in Euless served as the shrine for his Orishas, which he had brought in cloth bags when he first traveled from Puerto Rico to Dallas.
A year after the move, he bought his first home and dedicated an entire room to his deities. Using the Yellow Pages, he located a botanica (a spiritual supply store) on West Jefferson and felt brave enough to introduce himself as a Santero. Here he would find others who shared his beliefs.
Over the years, he would become godfather to at least 500 followers and initiate at least 17 priests. As these new priests went out into the community and gave out necklaces to their own godchildren, Merced’s own house grew. He estimates that today there are close to 1,000 believers in his Santería community.
As Merced grew more confident in his job and in himself, he stopped hiding his religion to outsiders and would tell them about it when asked. He took the same approach in his personal life. And in 2002, when his boyfriend, Michael, decided to take his last name, their commitment to each other seemed a natural progression. “This is me,” Jose says. “And everyone will accept me for what I am.”
In 2002 Merced moved into the house he currently owns in Euless, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he started attracting the attention of the authorities. On September 4, Euless police and animal control officials showed up unannounced at his home. An anonymous caller had complained that goats were being illegally slaughtered in his backyard. When the authorities arrived, Merced was in the middle of a sacrificial ceremony inside his shrine. The police told him to stop—that if he didn’t they would fine him or arrest him. But the animal control officer intervened: Merced was allowed to continue the ritual and would not be arrested, at least not that day.
Uploaded on May 15, 2007
Scenes from 2005′s “Havana Centro” by Paul Johnson. Rare scenes of a Santeria ritual taking place in Havana, Cuba
An international team of scientists from Switzerland, Australia, Germany and the United States has discovered remains of three hunter-gatherer settlements in the western Amazon.
Their study, reported in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, focuses on a region in the Bolivian Amazon thought to be rarely occupied by pre-agricultural communities due to unfavorable environmental conditions.
Hundreds of ‘forest islands’- small forested mounds – are found throughout the region. Their origins attributed to termites, erosion or ancient human activity.
The team reports that three of these islands are shell middens, mounds of seashells left by settlers more than 10,000 years ago. Samples of soil from these mounds revealed a dense accumulation of freshwater snail shells, animal bones and charcoal forming the middens.
Published on Apr 6, 2013
Eight Steps to Empire: The Culture Wars is a documentary exploring the concept of empire in the modern era. The film looks at the usage of diversion and cultural subversion as mechanisms of social control.
This 24-minute excerpt from the film is submitted as part of InfoWars.com’s Operation Paul Revere Contest (www.infowars.com/contest).
Originally scheduled for release in Spring 2011, the film’s release date has been pushed back due to a lack of funding. Production has been slow as the movie is being produced by a single person working on a $500 desktop computer.
For updates, follow:
Click here to watch the previously released trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThKfZpPOjvI
Thank you for your support. Please share.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This video contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. All use of copyrighted material in this material is for the non-commercial purpose of social, political, and cultural critique, and intended to be educational. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this film is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011
this is a 6-part Epic film that shows how Europeans actually made the migration thousands of years ago. There was no conspiracy by scientists to fabricate the information. Rather instead, the discoveries were independent from one another. And, the results were often discovered accidentally. This video is Not intended to erase the status of Native Americans throughout North America.
Not intended as a challenge or belittling of other races as this is not race related , but scientific. Information that had not been known before and has set the record straight. The first Europeans that set foot in North America were not the Explorers that history has claimed for so very long. Europeans existed on this continent for thousands of years longer than current history reflects according to this discovery. Or so it seems…… very interesting findings in this video.
Published on Jul 19, 2012
Originally found here: http://vimeo.com/user331557/
Also see this documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maziRF…
I downloaded all the videos and combined them into one. The authors description:
“It is my intention that these videos promote the frank and open discussion of the ancient history of the Americas. Identity politics has no place here. I simply wish to connect the dots of research findings which now tells a very different story than we were taught as children.
(Go to first-americans.blogspot.com/ for my complete blog.)
You will see that the citations offered in this video series come from many mainstream universities, as well as the Smithsonian Institution. Virtually every idea is sourced, as you can see in about 9 minutes in the Summary chapter.
The peopling of the Americas appears to be much more complex than we initially thought – and more interesting.
“First Americans – Out of Europe” does not mean to imply that this is the last word on the “first Americans” but that of the very early migrants to the Americas, Europeans were part of this group. The earliest evidence now points in their direction. These people have a right to have their story told, as it will be ignored in the current PC dominated boring old media.
The picture is sure to change as research continues to come in. These are cool times in this area of science.
Hundreds of mysterious golden-coloured orbs have been found buried in a hidden chamber deep beneath the Temple of Feathered Serpent in Mexico.
The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History, who admit they have no idea what the spheres are for.
A tiny robot called Tláloc II-TC, which has been scanning tunnels deep beneath the famous temple, found the orbs using infrared scanners.
Hundreds of mysterious spheres have been discovered beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, in the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan, just 30 miles from Mexico City
According to archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History, the spheres would have appeared to be made of gold because they are covered in jarosite – a bi-product of the oxidisation of pyrite, also known as Fool’s Gold
Infrared scanners found the location of the chamber and the orbs. Archaeologists have no idea what the spheres would have been used for, although believe they may have been involved with religious rituals
The Tláloc II-TC is named after the Aztec god of rain.
It is three-feet-long and can squeeze through tight spaces and explore small, hidden areas.
It is fitted with video cameras and a mechanical arm used to clear obstacles out of its way.
It is part of a robotic system called Tlaloque, which includes a large rover that carries the two smaller robots.
Once the Tlaloque arrives at a chamber, the robots break off and scan the area using infrared scanners.
A separate flying drone captures video footage.
They were hiding in a previously unexplored ancient chamber at the end of a stretch of 2,000-year-old unexplored tunnel on the Teotihuacan site, near the Pyramid of the Sun.
Jorge Zavala, an archaeologist on the dig said: ‘They look like yellow spheres, but we do not know their meaning.
It’s an unprecedented discovery.’
The spheres are made of clay and range from 1.5 to 5 inches in circumference.
They get their yellow colour from a material called jarosite.
Lead archaeologist Sergio Gomez explained that the spheres appear to be made of metal because jarosite is formed by the oxidation of pyrite, which is a metallic ore also known as Fool’s Gold.
The walls in the chamber were also found to be dusted in pyrite, which gave it an appearance of a gold room.
The archaeologists therefore think that the orbs would have been used by ‘high-ranking people, priests, or even rulers’ to perform rituals within the tunnels.
Although, the team admit what part they played in these rituals, and what these rituals meant remain a mystery.
The team from the Mexican Institute have been using the robot for months to explore the tunnels under the celebrated temple, also known as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.
Explorer: This robot may have made a momentous discovery in a 2,000-year-old tunnel in Mexico
The was the first image transmitted by the robot deep under the ancient temple
Famous: The social structure of Teotihuacan remains a mystery after nearly 100 years of archaeological exploration at the site
Teotihuaca means ‘the place where men become gods’.
The site is thought to be a burial ground.
The Teotihuacan people worshipped eight gods, and were known to carry out human sacrifices.
The ancient city was founded 2,500 years ago and was once one of the biggest cities on Earth with over 100,000 residents – Earth at this time only house 200 million people.
The city was totally abandoned in 700 AD and very little is know about the civilisation, or what caused the mass exodus.
The temple lies about 37 miles north of Mexico City and the site houses the remains of the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan in the Basin of Mexico.
It is best known for the towering Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun.
Earlier this year, the team and the remote-controlled robot found three unexplored passages.
It was only expected to find one.
The discovery of the hidden passages and golden orbs could be highly important.
Graph modified after Verisimilus
The graph shows the percentage of marine animals becoming extinct. The five major events are:
March 23, 2013
Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events. The classical “Big Five” mass extinctions identified by Raup and Sepkoski are widely agreed upon as some of the most significant: End Ordovician, Late Devonian, End Permian, End Triassic, and End Cretaceous. According to a recent poll, seven out of ten biologists think we are currently in the throes of a sixth mass extinction. Some say it could wipe out as many as 90 percent of all species living today. Other scientists dispute such dire projections.
“If you look at the fossil record, it is just littered with dead bodies from past catastrophes,” observes University of Washington paleontologist Peter Ward. Ward says that only one extinction in Earth’s past was caused by an asteroid impact – the event 65 million years ago that ended the age of the dinosaurs. All the rest, he claims, were caused by global warming.
Ward’s study, Under a Green Sky, explores extinctions in Earth’s past and predicts extinctions to come in the future. Ward demonstrates that the ancient past is not just of academic concern. Everyone has heard about how an asteroid did in the dinosaurs, and NASA and other agencies now track Near Earth objects.
Unfortunately, we may not be protecting ourselves against the likeliest cause of our species’ demise. Ward explains how those extinctions happened, and then applies those chilling lessons to the modern day: expect drought, superstorms, poison–belching oceans, mass extinction of much life, and sickly green skies.
The significant points Ward stresses are geologically rapid climate change has been the underlying cause of most great “extinction” events. Those events have been, observed Harvard evolutionary biologist Stephen Gould, major drivers of evolution.
Drastic climate change has not always been gradual; there is solid empirical evidence of catastrophic warming events taking place in centuries, perhaps even decades. The impact of atmospheric warming is most potent in its modification of ocean chemistry and of circulating currents; warming inevitably leads to non-mixing anoxic dead seas.
We are already in the middle, not the beginning, of an anthropogenic global warming, caused by agriculture and deforestation, which began some 10,000 years ago but which is now accelerating exponentially; though the earliest wave of anthropogenic warming has been stabilizing and beneficial to human development, it appears to have the potential for catastrophic effects within a lifetime or two.
Looking at the ancient evidence, Ward notes that ice caps began to shrink. “Melting all the ice caps causes a 75-meter increase in sea level will remove every coastal city on our planet.” It will also cover earth’s most productive farmland, the author warns, adding, “It will happen if we do not somehow control CO2 rise in the atmosphere.”
An analysis of the geological record of the Earth’s sea level, carried out by scientists at Princeton and Harvard universities supports Ward using a novel statistical approach that reveals the planet’s polar ice sheets are vulnerable to large-scale melting even under moderate global warming scenarios. Such melting would lead to a large and relatively rapid rise in global sea level.
According to the analysis, an additional 2 degrees of global warming could commit the planet to 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) of long-term sea level rise. This rise would inundate low-lying coastal areas where hundreds of millions of people now reside. It would permanently submerge New Orleans and other parts of southern Louisiana, much of southern Florida and other parts of the U.S. East Coast, much of Bangladesh, and most of the Netherlands, unless unprecedented and expensive coastal protection were undertaken. And while the researchers’ findings indicate that such a rise would likely take centuries to complete, if emissions of greenhouse gases are not abated, the planet could be committed during this century to a level of warming sufficient to trigger this outcome.
– Posted on March 7, 2013
Canadian research team, helped by scientists at The University of Manchester, discovered the first evidence of an extinct giant camel in the High Arctic. The 3,5 million year old fossil was identified using new collagen fingerprinting from bone fragments unearthed on Canada’s High Arctic Ellesmere Island. It’s the furthest North a camel has ever been found.
The fossils were collected during summers of 2006, 2008 and 2010 by Dr. Natalia Rybczynski, a vertebrate paleontologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Dr. Natalia Rybczynski collects a fossil bone at the Fyles Leaf Bed site on Ellesmere Island in 2008. The fossil in situ looks very similar to wood. She uses toilet paper to wrap the fossil for transport to the base camp. CREDIT: Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature.
The camel bone fragments were collected from a steep slope at the Fyles Leaf Bed site, a sandy deposit near Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island. Other fossil finds at the site suggest the High Arctic camel was living in a boreal-type of forest environment, during a global warm phase on the planet.
Dr Buckley carrying out the process of collagen fingerprinting to determine which species the bone fragments belong to.
Credit: The University of Manchester
At first, it was unclear which species the bones they found came from so they asked the help of Dr. Mike Buckley from Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. He used the pioneering technique called “collagen fingerprinting” to identify the animal. Dr. Buckley compared the profile he found with the 37 mondern mammal species as well as that of a fossil camel found in Yukon.
He found that the collagen profile for the High Arctic camel was almost an identical match to the modern day Dromedary as well as the Ice-Age Yukon giant camel. The collagen information, combined with the anatomical data, demonstrated that the bone fragments belonged to a giant camel as the bone is roughly 30% larger than the same bone in a living camel species.
Dr. Rybczynski said: “These bones represent the first evidence of camels living in the High Arctic region. It extends the previous range of camels in North America northward by about 1,200 km, and suggests that the lineage that gave rise to modern camels may have been originally adapted to living in an Arctic forest environment.”
“This is the first time that collagen has been extracted and used to identify a species from such ancient bone fragments. The fact the protein was able to survive for three and a half million years is due to the frozen nature of the Arctic. This has been an exciting project to work on and unlocks the huge potential collagen fingerprinting has to better identify extinct species from our preciously finite supply of fossil material.” – Dr. Buckley
The specimen found are spectacular, said Dr. Roy Wogelius from The University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences after he analysed the mineral content of the bones. His findings suggest that mineralization worked along with cold temperatures to help preserve the proteins in the bones. “This specimen is spectacular, and provides important clues about how such exceptional preservation may occur”, he said.