Yamal is home to the Nenets people, indigenous reindeer herders that migrate with their animals across the tundra. This same tundra has, in recent decades, formed the lifeblood of the Russian natural gas economy. The history of the Nenets and their current challenges are complex, but they play an important part in the way this larger social-ecological system works. This field entry from Nat Geo’s Explorer’s Journal by guest blogger Jeff Kerby also contains a short video.
Article in Forbes features an image gallery representing a variety of ancient times, places, and cultures that archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians have carved into jack o’ lanterns for Halloween. There is also a link to similar pumpkin carving stencil designs released by the Getty Museum featuring ancient Greek pottery forms.
Fifteen graves dating from the Merovingian era, which lasted from the 5th century to AD 751, have been discovered in a hamlet of Zeitz, Germany. Among the most surprising remains are those of a young woman aged between 16 and 18 buried face down with her hands tied and an iron bar piercing her chest. She may have been buried in this way so that her soul would not abandon the tomb, or if she had special perhaps inexplicable abilities and was simply regarded as a witch.
Scientists from MIT and other institutions, working closely with amateur astronomers, have spotted the dusty tails of six exocomets ~ comets outside our solar system ~ orbiting a faint star 800 lightyears from Earth. These cosmic balls of ice and dust, which were about the size of Halley’s Comet and traveled about 100,000 miles per hour before they ultimately vaporized, are some of the smallest objects yet found outside our own solar system.
In 1890, JJ Ott gave a remarkable concert for the Buckwampum historical society. What made the concert remarkable wasn’t the music being played, but the instrument Ott was playing. The instrument per se was made of stones that mysteriously made clear, bell-like tones when struck by a hammer. You might say it was the first rock concert.
Today, the ancient Belarusian art of ritualistic whisper healing is slowly disappearing. Old whisper healers are dying, and young people don’t believe or want to learn this ancient tradition whose roots lie in paganism. For one biographer, it’s a part of his country’s heritage, and he wants to document it before it is gone completely.
Based on the Irish isle of Iona and its ancient Celtic stones, the park has been littered with rings, rows, and structures made of huge standing stones meant to heal and inspire since 1978. Park founder Bill Cohea, visited the Irish isle and was transformed by the gorgeous, ancient setting, feeling that it held a peaceful and possibly healing quality.
What’s black and white all over and definitely doesn’t belong in Florida? A showy non-native Sub-Saharan African songbird that could possibly threaten the state’s native birds. In the last month, three different South Florida birders have spotted pin-tailed whydahs, the first such sightings in decades. While no one is suggesting the sightings mark the arrival of the state’s next invasive species, their appearance in the wild has set off a few alarms. Some scientists theorize that the birds may have been “blown” to Florida by the recent Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico, where they normally colonize. Because they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, whydahs are considered a parasitic species.
According to Google Patents, around 192 flying saucer patents are listed as being produced in the US, with three particular surges in their creation—an initial jump in the years between 1953 and 1956, a second wind between 1965 and 1971, and an unusually dramatic surge in such inventions between the years 2001 and 2004, with 37 flying saucer-related patents filed during that particular period.
In the briny waters of Jervis Bay on Australia’s east coast, where three rocky outcrops jut out from piles of broken scallop shells, beer bottles and lead fishing lures, a clutch of octopi gambol among a warren of nearly two dozen dens. Welcome to Octlantis. The bustling community belies conventionally held notions of these cephalopods, once thought to be solitary and asocial.
According to medieval mapmakers, the world was made up of three continents ringed by narrow bodies of water. When the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Ferdinand Magellan uncovered continents previously unknown to Europeans, this posed a major problem for those cartographers. But these explorers did not just stumble upon uncharted land—they also became aware of expansive stretches of ocean around the world.
A new book entitled People of Yellowstone features a collection of 87 park rangers, scientists, and artists posing in the landscape they dearly love, America’s very first National Park.
The first master plan—a document packed with maps and recommendations for preserving and monitoring a park and the visitor experience—was drawn up in 1929 for Mount Rainier National Park, 369 square miles in Washington state. It was created by Thomas Chalmers Vint, landscape architect and, from 1933, Chief of the NPS Branch of Plans and Designs. It served as a kind of blueprint for the plans to come, and included proposals for a new hotel complex and an expansion of the facilities on the south slope of the glacier-covered volcano.
Between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago — during the middle Holocene — the Four Corners area of what is now the American Southwest went through a slow but dramatic climatic shift. As the region became hotter and drier, stream and lake levels dropped, and larger game animals and firewood became harder to find. Indigenous communities had to rely on foods that were less nutritious and took more time to prepare, such as grass seeds and chenopodium seeds, a tiny grain similar to quinoa.
In 2016, they found evidence of the palisade walls of the Pilgrims’ first settlement. Nearly 400 years after the Mayflower passengers landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, archaeologists excavate remains of Pilgrim homes.
In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, psychologist Steven Pinker argues that people who live in states are less violent than those who lived in nonstate hunting, gathering, and horticultural societies in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history.