Progress Notes

Rainbow Basin Camel Tracks 2

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Owl Creek 023.jpg

The hardened and uplifted layer of ash is at the lower right. Camel footprints are underneath the ash layer.

Owl Creek 010.jpg

A clear camel track is at the upper right. The gouged out areas in the middle and lower left are where someone removed tracks illegally. This is why archeologists, paleontologists and anthropologists don't give out exact locations for publication outside professional journals.


Aepycamelus was a small camelid that lived in savannah or prairie environments in the Miocene. It looked something like a giraffe and had the same elongated neck bones. It stood about nine feet tall at the top of its head. When I was a student I helped remove a hip bone and socket with part of the pelvis of a camel from the hardened lake mud. Miss August dug up the lower jaw of an early horse (Merychippus) just like on National Geographic with the dental picks and the brushes. She usually got to do the fancy stuff like that.



  1. newyorklily's Avatar
    Thank you, Doc, that is awesome. It's a shame the camel's ancestors died out on this continent. The Wild West would have been a lot different if there were camels to ride.
  2. Doc's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by newyorklily
    Thank you, Doc, that is awesome. It's a shame the camel's ancestors died out on this continent. The Wild West would have been a lot different if there were camels to ride.
    There may be newer information, but back when we studied the horse and camel fossils, they were not sure what happened to the camels. They thought they originated here and migrated to North Africa and the Middle East, then became extinct here. One of the things we learned early in that field was there are a few bones and a lot of guesses.
  3. WildMage's Avatar
    Pretty cool

    2.F) Examples: Strength of Dogma in the 1980's

    The three following examples illustrate how the power of dogma and preconceived beliefs have taken precedence over the scientific method, and the continual sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found in such matters.

    They represent how strongly ingrained beliefs were used to discard data from serious scientific analysis. These events occurred between 1980 and the present and further illustrate the climate that Burrows found in 1982.

    No Need to Radio Carbon Date Farmer's Horse Bones

    Civil engineering students and staff were surveying Indian mounds near Aztlan Park in Wisconsin about 1985. A farmer said that archaeologists had excavated a small horse skeleton from one of the mounds the previous summer.

    The mounds were built about the time that the Norse had their settlement at L'anse Aux Meadows at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Water routes connected the St. Lawrence with southern Wisconsin. And Icelandic sagas tell of cattle in their settlements in Vinland.

    Furthermore, the Norse horses were small ones like the horse that reportedly was taken from the mound. And since other horses had been taken from Indian mounds in Wisconsin (before there was radio carbon dating) there was great interest amongst some people for the report and carbon date of the horse bones at Aztalan.

    A report was requested from the archaeology professor in Milwaukee. "Oh not much was written about it. A farmer had merely buried a horse in an Indian mound." "Did the farmer say so?" "No, that occurred before the present farmer moved to the farm." "Where did you grow up?" "In New York City", was the reply. "But farmers in Wisconsin either send their dead horses to rendering plants or drag them to the woods.

    They do not bury them, especially in an Indian mound. How do you know the farmer buried the horse there?"

    "It must have been a favorite pet pony. The farmer had to have buried it, for the Indians did not have horses at the time the mound was built."

    "What was the radio carbon date on the horse bones?" The angry and annoyed reply was "Look, the state does not have money to carbon date farmer's horse bones".

    And this was supposed to be the end of the story, and will be unless interested people raise money and force the horse bones to be carbon dated before they are lost or discarded.

    According to the scientific method, it is basic data (the horse bones) properly preserved and analyzed and not preconceived beliefs that will determine the date of their origin. Only from basic data will we be able to know the truth of the past.

    But as happens time and again, preconceived beliefs are used to filter out the data that gets a fair analysis and even preserved.


    CARLSBAD —— Archaeologists working against the clock in Carlsbad have unearthed another nearly intact skeleton of a horse that may have lived and died 50 years before the Spanish began their conquest of California.

    Last week's discovery, high on a hill overlooking the Agua Hedionda lagoon, follows the discovery in June of the skeletal remains of another horse and a small burro, said project manager Dennis Gallegos of Gallegos and Associates, the contractor hired to explore the site.

    The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct more than 10,000 years ago, and the remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish, who reintroduced horses to the New World.

    "This is a story untold," said Mark Mojado, the cultural representative for the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians.

    Read more: Centuries-old bones of horses unearthed in Carlsbad


    A cool site to see what types of fossils can be found in different areas of N. America

    Geological Tools and Outfitter, LLC

    Jasper Trails in the Barstow Badlands...

    Here is a field trip for those who would hike back through the twisted and torn pages of Mojave Desert geological history—into the Barstow Syncline, a vast sedimentary bed worn by the relentless forces of erosion into a fantastic land of deep fissures, strange buttes and furrowed walls. Collectors can find here prized specimens of jasper, fossil bones and lichen-encrusted volcanic rocks.
  4. Doc's Avatar
    Thank you, Wildmage for the detailed feedback. I have experienced the closed-mindedness in Archeology first hand while digging at the Early Man Site. I'm slowly getting around to making the case you just made so well. Meanwhile, I'm having a good time posting pictures from many day trips and longer expeditions "out there".

    One quick example from my own experience: Looking for ancient shoreline is a good way to find artifacts or other traces of early inhabitants. But, if the shoreline you find the stone tools or bones on is dated "too old" for human habitation don't bother submitting it to the Archeology, Paleontology or Anthropology Establishment, it will be ignored or dismissed out of hand as "impossible". So, that little encampment on the shoreline with the stone oven and sleeping rooms is just going to have to sit there a few thousand more years because it can't exist.

    Welcome to The OutPost...on the Frontier of Understanding!
  5. WildMage's Avatar
    You are definitely not alone in your thought of the area holding large amounts of water within a time frame that would include human habitation:

    Hooke(1999) rekindled the hypothesis that a large lake (mega-
    Lake Manly) filled Death Valley and the adjoining Silver/Soda
    Lake during pluvial periods (e.g., Hale, 1985). Like Hooke, we
    also have been investigating lake deposits, strandline features,
    and Quaternary tectonics in the Death Valley, Silurian Valley,
    and the Silver/Soda Lake areas for more than a decade (e.g.,
    Wells et al., 1989; Brown et al., 1990; Enzel, 1990; Anderson
    and Wells, 1996; Knott et al., 1996, 1999; Enzel and Wells,
    1997; Knott, 1997, 1998; Anderson, 1998, 1999). On the basis
    of drill cores, detailed geologic mapping, survey data, 14C dates,
    luminescence dating, soil descriptions, and tephrochronology,
    we strongly disagree with both Hooke’s large-lake hypothesis
    and his tectonic reconstruction. We believe there are sufficient
    data to conclude that, contrary to Hooke’s claims, (1) the pluvial
    features and deposits at Silver Lake and Salt Spring Hills represent
    lakes formed in different terminal playas between 30,000
    and 9000 yr ago
    and thus are not coeval with the ┬╗186,000–
    120,000 yr B.P. Blackwelder strandline of Death Valley (Wells
    et al., 1989; Brown et al., 1990; Anderson and Wells, 1997; Ku
    et al., 1998), (2) the Blackwelder strandline deposits are on the
    footwall block of the Black Mountains and thus have either been
    uplifted or, at the very least, unchanged relative to the region to
    the south; and (3) the Salt Spring Hills and Silver Lake shorelines
    are not tilted (Wells et al., 1989; Brown et al., 1990; Anderson,
    1999), suggesting that they have only minimally been affected,
    if at all, by tectonic activity. Below, we review both the data
    presented by Hooke in support of his hypothesis and the data
    from studies that preceded Hooke (1999), data that we argue
    contradict Hooke’s findings.

    Personally I am of the opinion that much of the desert was underwater until about 9-13 thousand years ago. About the same time the ice age came to an end the inland sea began receding.

    nasa has a nice tool that lets you flooding up to 60 meters; it does not reach Barstow, but i can see there is a definite path water would take.

    or you can go to: this one will let you set 3 different elevations ( once you get past the 1000' elevation the Mohave starts getting wet

    Updated 03-20-2012 at 09:10 AM by WildMage
  6. Doc's Avatar
    Again, thanks for the detailed response and especially for the citations.

    When we were taking Desert Studies one of our principal instructors was a hydrologist/geologist, so water courses over time was a great interest to her. On one of our field trips we followed the trail of ancient lakes and tributaries from the north of Death Valley down through Baker to Barstow and the Rainbow Basin ending at Silver Lake. On many stops we located portions of the lake shore of Lake Manix and Lake Manly. That is how I knew to find lakeshore when we went back on our own, later.

    We have followed lake shore and stream beds all over the area. We located a tool making area at the southeast foot of Black Mountain (mentioned in your post) on ancient lake shore that I doubt has been found "officially". Leading up from it here is a stream bed running down out of the mountain and beside it is a jumble of large black basalt rocks that made a perfect camp. There is evidence of fire use there. We plan to go back and take some digital pictures this Spring. I don't think anyone is ever going to explore that spot, knowing what I know of the politics and economics of Archeology. The dating of that lake shore and stream bed would date human habitation there.

    We have been trying to get back to Black Mountain but the roads across the Mojave River in that area are closed so we will have to go a longer way around. Some parts of Black Mountain are closed to vehicles now, which will make going back to one area much harder. In that closed area a long time ago we found an old "crashed" weather balloon. No one would mistake it for a flying saucer.

    But that is another story...