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How Paleo-Americans Emerged From The Ice Age

We go under Lake Huron to see how America’s paleo-Indian mastodon hunters lived and moved at the end of the Ice Age. Plus: new studies suggest that the Antarctic shelf is collapsing for good.

Images from the floor of Lake Huron that show where Paleo hunting blinds may have existed thousands of years ago. (Ashley Lemke / UMich)

Images from the floor of Lake Huron that show where Paleo hunting blinds may have existed thousands of years ago. (Ashley Lemke / UMich)

Nine thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, sea levels were 300 feet below where they stand today.  You could walk from Europe to England.  From Siberia to Alaska.  You could walk across Lake Huron, in the American Great Lakes.  And there, on what is now the lake floor, archaeologists are now finding amazing sites of human life in the age of sabre tooth tiger and mastodon.  Preserved underwater.  With the story of Paleo-Americans.  The Paleo-Indians who hunted and moved across the land.  This hour On Point:  from the lake floor, Paleo-American life emerges.

– Tom Ashbrook


John O’Shea, archaeological anthropologist at the University of Michigan. Head of the Great Lakes Archaeology Lab.

Ashley Lemke, graduate student and archaeologist at the Great Lakes Archaeology Lab.

Robert Reynolds, director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Wayne State University.

From Tom’s Reading List

Discovery News: Ancient Caribou Hunting Site Found Beneath Lake Huron — “An elaborate array of linear stone lanes and V-shaped structures has been discovered on an underwater ridge in Lake Huron, marking what is thought to be the most complex set of ancient hunting structures ever found beneath the Great Lakes, according to a new report.”

MLive: Discovery under 121 feet of water in Lake Huron sheds light on prehistoric caribou hunts — “Under 121 feet of water in Lake Huron, about 35 miles south of the small Michigan town of Alpena, University of Michigan archeologists discovered a 9,000-year-old caribou hunting drive lane. Underwater searches led scientists to uncover “Drop 45 Drive Lane,” a hunting structure in a stone lane that contains three circular hunting blinds used to corral caribou.”

Popular Archaeology: 9,000-Year-Old Caribou Hunting Structure Found Submerged in Lake Huron — “More than the Drop 45 Drive Lane itself, the findings show an interrelated complex of drive lanes, multiple blinds and auxiliary structures that served together as an integrated system for controlling the prey into a kill zone. The findings, say the researchers, have implications for understanding the social and economic organization of the ancient hunters that used the AAR, as it required large groups of cooperating hunters and smaller groups of families to operate the system.”

Sea Rise And The Collapse Of The Antarctic Ice Shelf

Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central.

Climate Central: What Does U.S. Look Like With 10 Feet of Sea Level Rise? – “More than half of the area of 40 large cities (population over 50,000) is less than 10 feet above the high tide line, fromVirginia Beach and Miami (the largest affected), down toHoboken, N.J. (smallest). Twenty-seven of the cities are in Florida, where one-third of all current housing sits below the critical line — including 85 percent in Miami-Dade andBroward counties. Each of these counties is more threatened than any whole state outside of Florida – and each sits on bedrock filled with holes, rendering defense by seawalls or levees almost impossible.”

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  • John Craft

    Also check out this paleo recipes http://www.paleo99diet.com

  • andrewgarrett

    These large animals all seem to disappear when humans arrive, or shortly after. Mastodons and mammoths were “ice age animals” only in the sense that raccoons and wood frogs are ice age animals, and had survived millions of years of glacial and interglacial periods. Are we finally coming to accept that as in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc., the first humans in America drastically altered the environment? Or are people still sticking to the idea that the first Americans lived “in harmony with nature”?

    • adks12020

      I don’t think anyone with education on the subject would say humans didn’t alter the environment substantially. They were, however, much more adept at using the environment in such a way as to not destroy it, as we do now. They burned grasslands to make hunting easier but moved often to allow it to grow back. They also burned and cut back forests in the eastern part of the country for the same reason and eventually for farming but again they didn’t destroy the forest and moved often to allow it to regenerate. They also tended to take what they needed rather than completely depleting entire stocks of wildlife. That’s why, for example, there were still millions of buffalo in the plains when white men arrived. Then white men slaughtered them nearly to extinction.

  • northeaster17

    Here is a good book for those in New England. It talks about old stone stuctures and other things that have survived from the days before the Euro’s came. I lent it out a year or so ago. Gone but not forgotten


  • hennorama

    A related story in today’s Los Angeles Times, titled “DNA from skull links Ice Age girl to Native Americans alive today.” FTA:

    The divers called her Naia, for “water nymph,” because they discovered her teenage remains in a dark, underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

    She had been hidden there for more than 12,000 years — along with the bones of dozens of extinct Ice Age beasts — and divers quickly spotted her skull as they swept the chamber with flashlights.

    “It was a small cranium laying upside-down with a perfect set of teeth and dark eye sockets looking back at us,” recalled diver Alberto Nava of Bay Area Underwater Explorers, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Berkeley.


  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I *really* love science! :-)

    As I understand it, this land is still “rebounding” (lifting upward) after the ice melted – the immense weight of all the ice was pressing the land down!

    • Kberg95

      In New England, the depression of the continental crust may have been as much as 70 to 100 meters.

  • Jeff

    What about the satellite data showing no warming for 15 years?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      What data is that? The upper atmosphere is cooling – because there is less heat escaping back out to space – because we have added carbon dioxide to the air.

      • Jeff

        Since 1998 there hasn’t been a global high temperature higher than that year as per this satellite data: http://appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/SatelliteTemps.htm

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          I think this has been thoroughly debunked.

          • JS

            Can you do me a favor and list a source for the debunking. It’s hard to keep up with all the debunking being done.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard
          • JS

            ty, I need to keep up with my conservative family members.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You’re quite welcome.

            There is only one set of facts, of course. The whole “conservative facts” thing is maddening.

          • JS

            Not their facts, but their arguments.

          • Jeff

            Look at the facts, data, graphs above.

          • JS

            I have, including the Forbes graphs, pretty convincing that a warming trend is happening.

          • Kberg95

            First, 2013 was a record year for volcanic eruptions (BTW – I am a scientist also, a geologist) and have actually been increasing over the last couple of decades.

            Volcanos discharge SO2 into the stratosphere and this reflects visible
            sunlight, thus having a cooling effect. As I have already pointed out, a peer
            reviewed article in Nature (
            http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v7/n3/full/ngeo2098.html ) show that eruptions have slowed, but not stopped global temperature increases. This paper is just one on the subject.

            Now, going back to the one graph you persistently are waving at everyone, the author of the graph, himself states that the difference between 1998 and 2010 is statistically insignificant as far as which year was the warmest, based on his satellite data. Again, if you look at his graph and put a simple trend line on
            it, the overall temperature trend from 1979 until now is up. If you are a
            scientist, you should be able to see this trend yourself and should also be
            able to understand things like data scatter. I will also remind you, as others
            have, that this scientist’s data are not the only data out there.

            As far as ways that global warming could be disproven? Hmm – well, let’s see, if
            CO2 was not actually opaque to infrared radiation, which has been known since
            the 18th century (and can be demonstrated experimentally with a fish tank, incandescent light bulb, cannister of CO2 and a thermometer). . . If the geologic record did not show repeated examples that CO2 is closely correlated with climatic change . . . if it could be shown that there are natural sources of
            CO2 that would overwhelm any anthropogenic sources . . . if glaciers were not receding as CO2 concentration increases . . . if paleo-temperature/ CO2 records from multiple sources (tree rings, corals, deep sea sediment cores, ice cores) did not show a strong statistical (and causal) relationship. I can do this all day long.

            A good scientist does not ignore other sources of data. You are doing an excellent job of ignoring the reams of data out there, which are publically available. You can download the raw data yourself and plot it up. I have done that myself with data from NASA and NOAA.

            All you have done is shown one plot of data, which if you look at it objectively,
            shows a long term temperature increase trend while I and others have been
            citing peer reviewed literature. Not very scientific there buddy.

            Enjoy the weekend.

          • JS

            I think perhaps this was meant for Jeff, and not me?

          • Kberg95


          • Jeff

            Look at the graph above….

          • Jeff

            I’m sorry but all those data samples end up “filtering out” many variables and do not use the hard data. Even in the articles they explain this: “Some years are a bit warmer than average and some are a bit colder than average because of El Niños, La Niñas, cloud variability, volcanic activity, ocean conditions, and just the natural pulsing of our planetary systems. When you filter these out”…that’s cherry picking numbers…just use the numbers why attempt to filter to fit your hypothesis?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Jeff, are you a climate scientist?

            I accept what science indicates. You are repeating bunk, spread by deniers and charlatans. They are same bunch who denied smoking causes cancer. And also the same folks who think the earth is 6,000 years old.

            You are wrong on this.

          • Jeff

            What am I wrong about? I stated that there has not been an average global temperature higher than we saw in 1998, as per the surface satellite data. I’m a scientist…I understand what the scientific method is…the big problem I have with global warming is that you have no real method to disprove it. Can you or anyone name a few things to look for that could possibly disprove global warming? Just a handful of things to look for would be amazing…any hypothesis that doesn’t have a way to disprove it isn’t a theory, it’s a religion.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            We have had hotter years since 1998. So, that makes you wrong.

          • Jeff

            Great fact to support your opinion…oh wait you didn’t provide a link of a year (using satellite data) of a hotter year than 1998. Use data not blind belief:


          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard
          • Jeff

            See that peak in 1998…notice the dip (which apparently is ignored in the centerline) around 2008? Look at the graph…it’s very clear that 1998 was a peak and since then we’ve leveled off, if not dipped.

          • Jeff

            So you “think” it’s been debunked…yet offer no data?

          • Kberg95

            If you look at the data


            you will see that 2010 was warmer than 1998. Further, if you examine the plot in detail, you will see that while the trend is overall upward from 1880 until now, you will also see that there have been period where overall temperatures declined.

            You can take any 15 year period and subtract the end temperature from the starting temperature. Some results will be negative, some will be positive. In the case of this plot, the majority of periods will show a net positive temperature change. If you still don’t get it, that means global temperatures are increasing.

            Bottom line – 15 years does not a trend make. That would be like trying to determine the mileage for an entire car trip by how much fuel the car used to get to the end of the driveway.

            These data come from NASA and is all publically available if you do a modicum of searchiing on the web.

          • Jeff

            Yep, the data is showing that the heat island effect is enveloping more meteorological stations across the earth…why doesn’t the satellite data of surface temperatures show the same exact effect?

            All that shows is that cities are covering more area than they have in previous years…not really news. See my graph of satellite temps, what causes that disparity? Any ideas?

          • Kberg95

            First, the GISS data uses meteorological stations that are not influenced by urban heat island effects. The idea that urban heat islands are influencing weather stations far from urban areas is laughable.


            “Subsequent improvements (Hansen et al. 1999; Hansen et al. 2001) to the original analysis included use of satellite-observed night lights to determine which stations in the United States are located in urban and peri-urban areas, the long-term trends of those stations being adjusted to agree with long-term trends of nearby rural stations.”

            Second, if you look at the satellite data graph you posted, it shows an overall upward trend in the temperature anomaly of 0.6C. Several papers have been published on this subject. For example:


            Volcanic eruptions do influence climate for short periods of time, such as Pinatubo and in fact, the current lull in the upward temperature increase has been linked to increased volcanic activity around the earth for the last decade or so.


          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Look at the BEST study. The ‘heat island’ canard is debunked.

          • Jeff

            Still, what’s your hypothesis for why the meteorological data doesn’t match with the satellite data??? BEST study? Which one is that? Why is it the best? Was the data “modified” in any way?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Are you just playing dumb? The satellite data shows that the greenhouse gases are doing what is expected.

            The BEST study – Google it. It was “commissioned” to prove the heat island effect – and ended up showing it is bunk.

          • Jeff

            So you don’t understand and you insult someone else? Okay, great, even your comment doesn’t make sense…you’d expect the greenhouse gases to lower the temperatures over time? Because that’s what’s happened since 1998…what in the world are you saying or even attempting to say?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Whatever …

            Virtually every climate scientist is wrong and Jeff On The Internet is right?

          • Jeff

            Why is it so important for you to establish a consensus for a problem we literally have zero solutions to…we can’t pull the CO2 out of the air and even if the USA stops putting it into the air, most other countries will not. I just find it odd that establishing man-made global warming (even though the satellite data clearly establishes zero warming since 1998) is so important for a problem we cannot solve right now. It’s a canard of a political issue used by people who want control over our lives…even with that control they don’t solve the problem so it’s truly about control.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            So, it’s not really happening – but we might as well keep burning fossil fuels because we can’t stop it?

            Self contradictory logic much?

            We only need to follow the money to find the people who want to keep the status quo. Oil companies are making 10′s of Billions in profit every year, and they do that by externalizing the costs. Without being able to dump the pollution from burning fossil fuels into the air and water.

            It is simply not sustainable. Oil is finite, and it will run out.

            You are wasting your time trying to spread FUD about climate change. More and more people are getting whacked by one effect or another.

            And deniers like you already look foolish.

          • Kberg95

            Jeff – you are purposely being obtuse and I will no longer engage with you on this subject. Please get your information from peer reviewed journals, not web sites with an axe to grind one way or another, such as the one you cite. As I have already said,even the satellite data graph you show still shows a positive temperature anomaly of 0.6 degrees. There have been several intervals where temperatures have dropped but there have been intervals where it has increased. I have already provided you with links to studies that have evaluated and corrected the satellite data.

            The physics of increased CO2 are well understood and the effects of increased temperature are already apparent.

          • Jeff

            “I have already provided you with links to studies that have evaluated and corrected the satellite data.” AKA manipulated to fit their hypothesis. Besides that we have had a very unusual period of almost no volcanic activity since the early 1990s…which significantly reduces temperatures…amazingly that matches up with a 1990s increase, variation is just a line drawn on the graph it can be set anywhere arbitrarily. All I ask is for a meaningful conversation about the ACTUAL DATA not manipulated data to fit your preconceived ideas.

          • Jeff

            Just name 1 thing that could disprove global warming, just 1 thing…if you cannot then it is not science.

          • Jeff

            My graph is the satellite data…which shows no increase in warming since 1998…scroll down…

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I think the GRACE satellites are pretty damn cool – they can measure the thickness of ice by the “extra” gravitational pull of the mass of ice.

    When the ice melts, it will change the gravitational pull, as well – this will eventually change the actual shape of the earth (which is currently an oblate spheroid that is “sagging” southward due to the “extra” gravitational pull of the Antarctic ice.

    If we end up causing ALL the ice to melt (and we will if we do not change our ways drastically!) then eventually, we will have a new tallest mountain! Mt Chimborazo in Ecuador will be taller than Mt Everest:


    As ice melts and the sea level rises – will it float more ice, and thereby increase the melt rate? It seems likely that this will be a feedback loop.

    Is the reason this melting is said to be “unstoppable” because of the lag in warming? We have increased the level of carbon dioxide so quickly, that warming is still “catching” up – by about 40-50 years, as I understand it. So far, the reason(s) that the melting is “unstoppable” has not been explicitly laid out.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Do you always just drop insults anonymously?

  • HonestDebate1

    Did global warming cause the Ice Age or cure it?

  • hennorama

    Richard A. Menard — yeah, except NO.

    Mr. Ashbrook asked about “hash marks,” not “hash tags.”

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An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
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We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
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A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

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