By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Several major discoveries were announced last week by palaeontologists, archeologists, and researchers alike. From the UK to Canada, spanning various eras, each of these discoveries has taught the world a bit more about our still minimally known pasts.
September 9 – One of two Franklin ships found
During the search for the Northwest Passage in the 1800s, Sir John Franklin embarked on a journey with a crew of 128, divided between two ships, to try and find the passage. The two ships, known as the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, disappeared in 1846. Numerous searches for the ships were what led to the eventual discovery of the Northwest Passage.
Now, after 169 years, one of the two ships has been located under arctic waters in Nunavut. The ship is still somewhat intact, holding up pieces of rubble that have crumbled over time. The search was backed by Parks Canada and Research in Motion, and has been going since 2008. Now, from collected artifacts, researchers will be able to ascertain which of the two ships they’ve found.
Extended grandson of Franklin, Adrian Gell, told CBC, “This has completely opened up again a new chapter in the mystery and hopefully now we will find out a lot more.”
September 10 – Digital map expands scope of Stonehenge
For the past four years, the Hidden Landscapes Project has been using technology to learn more about the history and landscape of Stonehenge. The discovery reveals a clearer scope of the land and various artifacts hidden underground. CBC outlined some of the artifacts found included the “super henge,” a Stonehenge-like circle of structures spanning 1.5 kilometres, “mounds containing piles of gold and jewelry,” and an intricate series of “pits hundreds of years older than Stonehenge that appear astronomically aligned … at certain times of the year.”
President of Lightship Entertainment Terence McKeown, who worked on some film sequences of Stonehenge for an upcoming The Nature of Things special, told CBC, “What Stonehenge appears to have been was the spiritual centre of a sophisticated culture.
“The population around Stonehenge clearly included accomplished engineers, surgeons, artisans, and there’s evidence they had close ties to Europe that advanced their skills.”
September 11 – Spinosaurus “discovered” in detail
The actual discovery of the Spinosaurus was back in 1820, though granted the evidence was only two teeth. Then in 1912 German palaeontologist Ernst Stromer uncovered more of a skeleton in Egypt, and coined the name “Spinosaurus” for the creature—but those bones were destroyed during WWII. Finally in 2008, a partial skeleton was unearthed in Morocco, but could not be recovered until 2013. In 2011, a fossil discovered in Australia revealed more about the dino, and now with further fossil discoveries announced on September 11, palaeontologists have a better idea of how strange the creature really was.
The latest discovery reveals the fact that the Spinosaurus was larger than the Tyrannosaurus Rex, previously thought to be the largest carnivorous dinosaur to walk on land at 15.2 metres (50 feet) long. Additionally, the Spinosaurus is the only known dinosaur capable of swimming. Scientists have determined that, with its long, skinny, jagged-toothed mouth and slender tail, the Spinosaurus swam much like a crocodile.
Speaking to National Geographic, dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland stated, “All in all, the discoveries by this team show that Spinosaurus is an extremely unusual and specialized carnivorous dinosaur.”