Who left the earliest footprints in rocks that we can admire today? From the giant tracks of enormous dinosaurs to the delicate prints of small lizards and birds, I think footprints are fascinating. Tracks preserved for tens of millions of years, as well as those left within hours, can tell interesting stories about people, animals, and their interactions.
This is a rerun - I published this post originally in November 2020 - but check it out if you missed it last year. Many of us think we know the story of Thanksgiving, but there are many myths. This post also has a link to a 2019 blog post about mammoths and the origins of pumpkin pie - an interesting story.
Flooding that filled the Central Valley region of California to the point of becoming an inland sea, with water lapping from the Coast Ranges to the Sierra Nevada foothills, was part of Native American oral traditions. And that is exactly what happened in the Great Flood of 1862. If a similar major flood occurs, there will be catastrophic consequences.
Celebrations of the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, involve traditions to remember and honor deceased family members and friends. In this post we examine a few customs around death, beginning with the mummification practices of ancient Andeans and ending with a street parade in Mexico City, inspired by the death-defying feats of James Bond.
Goblins lurk in a remote corner of Utah. They aren’t the Halloween type! Instead, they are unique, curiously shaped rocks, found by the thousands in Goblin Valley State Park. They are in columns or pillars formed by layers of rock with differing resistance to weathering, called hoodoos, and they have an interesting geologic history.
Dogs have been human companions for thousands of years. As the first animal species domesticated, dogs altered human relationships with the natural world and profoundly influenced the course of early human history. New data indicate that dogs most likely accompanied the first explorers as they traveled southward from Siberia and fanned out across the Americas.
Achieving water security has been a challenge throughout human history. Now, an astonishing two-thirds of the global population is projected to have difficulty accessing potable water by 2025. Energy and clean water production are correlated, and fortunately intelligent people are currently exploring options to harness the power of the sun to reduce water shortages.
Many crystal mining operations are steeped in conflict and associated with appalling worker conditions and serious environmental degradation. Many collectors who are concerned with environmental impact and fair trade are seemingly unaware of this dark side – or perhaps they just don’t want to acknowledge it. There are alternatives.
Forests of bull kelp, with thick floating masses of brownish-green fronds, have been swaying in ocean waves along the Pacific coasts of the Americas for eons. This marine ecosystem, rich in fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and seaweed, made it feasible for the earliest people to migrate by boat southward from Eurasia to South America. We know their route as the Kelp Highway.
Large populations of mammoths and mastodons once roamed the landscape, and their relatively young and well-preserved fossil remains are widely distributed. Notable traces of these giant animals have been found practically in my central California neighborhood.