Smithsonian’s Panama debate fueled by zircon dating

via: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

New evidence published in Science by Smithsonian geologists dates the closure of an ancient seaway at 13 to 15 million years ago and challenges accepted theories about the rise of the Isthmus of Panama and its impact on world climate and animal migrations.

A team analyzed zircon grains from rocks representing an ancient sea and riverbeds in northwestern South America. The team was led by Camilo Montes, former director of the Panama Geology Project at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is now at the Universidad de los Andes.

The team’s new date for closure of the Central American Seaway, from 13 to 15 million years ago, conflicts with the widely accepted 3 million year date for the severing of all connections between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the result of work done by the Panama Paleontology Project, directed by emeritus scientists Jeremy B.C. Jackson and Anthony Coates, also at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute…

(read more: EurekAlert! - AAAS)

image: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


With little warning Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted with ferocity after 42 years of stability.

On April 22nd, plumes of ash began spewing from the volcano up to 10 kilometres in the air, and resulted in a large evacuation process as well as these powerful images. 

With warning of as little as 15 minutes for some residents, this eruption highlights the immense difficulty in forecasting volcanic eruptions. Chile has 400 or so active volcanoes - one of the highest amounts on the planet, yet there’s still little that can be done to efficiently predict these eruptions. 

The proximity of high population density near large volcanoes seen in countries like Chile, Malaysia and The US have experts in the field concerned about the measures taken to ensure safety. Volcanoes that have been dormant for hundreds or thousands of years can still spring to life, begging the question; what can we do to ensure safety of these populations?

(Nat Geo, Vox, Time)

Leif Erikson, c. 970 – c. 1020
First European to set foot in the Americas

Inspired by Bjarni’s tales;
“There was now much talk about voyages of discovery. Leif, the son of Erik the Red, of Brattahlid, went to Bjarne Herjulfson, and bought the ship of him, and engaged men for it, so that there were thirty-five men in all.” 
- Greenlandic Saga

They Discover the 3rd island Bjarni spotted and name it Helluland, “land of flat stones” (believed by historians to be Baffin Island).

“Now prepared they their ship, and sailed out into the sea when they were ready, and then found that land first which Bjarne had found last. There sailed they to the land, and cast anchor, and put off boats, and went ashore, and saw there no grass. Great icebergs were over all up the country, but like a plain of flat stones was all from the sea to the mountains, and it appeared to them that this land had no good qualities.

Then said Leif, “We have not done like Bjarne about this land, that we have not been upon it; now will I give the land a name, and call it Helluland.” Then went they on board, and after that sailed out to sea”
- Greenlandic Saga

Baffin Island

They discover yet another land and name it Markland, “the land of forests”.

“-and found another land; they sailed again to the land, and cast anchor, then put off boats and went on shore. This land was flat, and covered with wood, and white sands were far around where they went, and the shore was low. Then said Leif, “This land shall be named after its qualities, and called Markland 2 (woodland.)”.” - Greenlandic Saga

Leif spots a 3rd land (believed by historians to be Labrador)

“They then immediately returned to the ship. Now sailed they thence into the open sea, with a northeast wind, and were two days at sea before they saw land, and they sailed thither and came to an island which lay to the eastward of the land, and went up there, and looked round them in good weather, and observed that there was dew upon the grass; and it so happened that they touched the dew with their hands, and raised the fingers to the mouth, and they thought that they had never before tasted anything so sweet.” 
- Greenlandic Saga 

Labrador Peninsula 

They Settle in the 4th land (now believed to be modern Newfoundland or the Gulf of Saint Lawrence)

“After that they went to the ship, and sailed into a sound, which lay between the island and a ness (promontory), which ran out to the eastward of the land; and then steered westwards past the ness. It was very shallow at ebb tide, and their ship stood up, so that it was far to see from the ship to the water.

But so much did they desire to land, that they did not give themselves time to wait until the water again rose under their ship, but ran at once on shore, at a place where a river flows out of a lake; but so, soon as the waters rose up under the ship, then took they boats, and rowed to the ship, and floated it up to the river, and thence into the lake, and there cast anchor, and brought up from the ship their skin cots, and made their booths.

After this took they counsel, and formed the resolution of remaining there for the winter, and built there large houses. There was no want of salmon either in the river or in the lake, and larger salmon than they had before seen.

The nature of the country was, as they thought, so good that cattle would not require house feeding in winter, for there came no frost in winter, and little did the grass wither there. Day and night were more equal than in Greenland or Iceland, for on the shortest day was the sun above the horizon from half-past seven in the forenoon till half-past four in the afternoon.”
 - Greenlandic Saga

Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence 

Leif’s foster father went missing and upon being found relates to Leif his discovery of a land of vines and grapes which Leif names, Vineland or Wineland (where they built a settlement that visitors would name Leifsbúðir, “Leif’s Booths” believed to be modern L’Anse aux Meadows)

“I have not been much further off, but still have I something new to tell of; I found vines and grapes.” “But is that true, my fosterer?” quoth Leif. “Surely is it true,” replied he, “for I was bred up in a land where there is no want of either vines or grapes.

"They slept now for the night, but in the morning, Leif said to his sailors: "We will now set about two things, in that the one day we gather grapes, and the other day cut vines and fell trees, so from thence will be a loading for my ship”.

That was the counsel taken, and it is said their long boat was filled with grapes. Now was a cargo cut down for the ship, and when the spring came they got ready and sailed away, and Leif gave the land a name after its qualities, and called it Vinland, or Wineland.” 
- Greenlandic Saga

L’Ans aux Meadows

After returning to Greenland, Leif’s tales become known to the people and his brother Thorvald wishes to explore these lands further, so they set sail back. Upon exploring the land further they find inhabitants, the Skrælings (“wretched ones”).

Native contact

“Now when spring began, they beheld one early morning, that a fleet of hide-canoes was rowing from the south off the headland; so many were they as if the sea were strewn with pieces of charcoal, and there was also the brandishing of staves as before from each boat.

Then they held shields up, and a market was formed between them; and this people in their purchases preferred red cloth; in exchange they had furs to give, and skins quite grey.

They wished also to buy swords and lances, but Karlsefni and Snorri forbad it. They offered for the cloth dark hides, and took in exchange a span long of cloth, and bound it round their heads; and so matters went on for a while. But when the stock of cloth began to grow small, then they split it asunder, so that it was not more than a finger’s breadth. The Skrælingar gave for it still quite as much, or more than before.”
 – Saga of Erik the Red, Chapter 11

There are two different accounts on how conflict began

Account #1, Saga of Eric the Red:
“Now it came to pass that a bull, which belonged to Karlsefni’s people, rushed out of the wood and bellowed loudly at the same time. The Skrælingar, frightened thereat, rushed away to their canoes, and rowed south along the coast. There was then nothing seen of them for three weeks together.

When that time was gone by, there was seen approaching from the south a great crowd of Skrælingar boats, coming down upon them like a stream, the staves this time being all brandished in the direction opposite to the sun’s motion, and the Skrælingar were all howling loudly. Then took they and bare red shields to meet them. They encountered one another and fought, and there was a great shower of missiles. The Skrælingar had also war-slings, or catapults.

Then Karlsefni and Snorri see that the Skrælingar are bringing up poles, with a very large ball attached to each, to be compared in size to a sheep’s stomach, dark in colour; and these flew over Karlsefni’s company towards the land, and when they came down they struck the ground with a hideous noise. This produced great terror in Karlsefni and his company, so that their only impulse was to retreat up the country along the river, because it seemed as if crowds of Skrælingar were driving at them from all sides.

And they stopped not until they came to certain crags. There they offered them stern resistance. Freydis came out and saw how they were retreating. She called out, “Why run you away from such worthless creatures, stout men that ye are, when, as seems to me likely, you might slaughter them like so many cattle? Let me but have a weapon, I think I could fight better than any of you.”

They gave no heed to what she said. Freydis endeavoured to accompany them, still she soon lagged behind, because she was not well; she went after them into the wood, and the Skrælingar directed their pursuit after her. She came upon a dead man; Thorbrand, Snorri’s son, with a flat stone fixed in his head; his sword lay beside him, so she took it up and prepared to defend herself therewith.

Then came the Skrælingar upon her. She let down her sark and struck her breast with the naked sword. At this they were frightened, rushed off to their boats, and fled away. Karlsefni and the rest came up to her and praised her zeal. Two of Karlsefni’s men fell, and four of the Skrælingar, notwithstanding they had overpowered them by superior numbers.

After that, they proceeded to their booths, and began to reflect about the crowd of men which attacked them upon the land; it appeared to them now that the one troop will have been that which came in the boats, and the other troop will have been a delusion of sight.

The Skrælingar also found a dead man, and his axe lay beside him. One of them struck a stone with it, and broke the axe. It seemed to them good for nothing, as it did not withstand the stone, and they threw it down.

[Karlsefni and his company] were now of opinion that though the land might be choice and good, there would be always war and terror overhanging them, from those who dwelt there before them. They made ready, therefore, to move away, with intent to go to their own land.

They sailed forth northwards, and found five Skrælingar in jackets of skin, sleeping [near the sea], and they had with them a chest, and in it was marrow of animals mixed with blood; and they considered that these must have been outlawed. They slew them.”

The Norse settlers suffer a surprise attack
by swarthy well-armed strangers
- By Roger Payne 

Account #2, Greenlandic Saga:
“Then went they to the ship, and saw upon the sands within the promontory three elevations, and went thither, and saw there three skin boats (canoes), and three men under each. Then divided they their people, and caught them all, except one, who got away with his boat. They killed the other eight, and then went back to the cape, and looked round them, and saw some heights inside of the frith, and supposed that these were dwellings. 

After that, so great a drowsiness came upon them that they could not keep awake, and they all fell asleep. Then came a shout over them, so that they all awoke. Thus said the shout: “Wake thou! Thorvald! and all thy companions, if thou wilt preserve life, and return thou to thy ship, with all thy men, and leave the land without delay.” 

“Then rushed out from the interior of the frith an innumerable crowd of skin boats, and made towards them. Thorvald said then: “We will put out the battle-skreen, and defend ourselves as well as we can, but fight little against them.” So did they, and the Skrælings shot at them for a time, but afterwards ran away, each as fast as he could.

Then asked Thorvald his men if they had. gotten any wounds; they answered that no one was wounded. “I have gotten a wound under the arm,” said he, “for an arrow fled between the edge of the ship and the shield, in under my arm, and here is the arrow, and it will prove a mortal wound to me.” 

In the spring they left to Greenland once again with grapes and vines. Thorstein Erikson, brother of Leif Ericson and the fallen Thorvald, wished to retrieve his brother’s body (this Journey would be ended by a fatal sickness)

“Early that winter came sickness amongst Thorstein Erikson’s men, and there died many of his people” 

“Now it was not long before the sickness came also into Thorstein’s house-”
Greenlandic Saga

“Three of Erik the Red’s children visited the North American continent: his sons Leif and Thorvald, and their sister Freydis.”

Saga of the Greenlanders -https://notendur.hi.is/haukurth/utgafa/greenlanders.html

Eirik the Red’s Saga - http://sagadb.org/eiriks_saga_rauda.en


Place of the day: Bogotá, Colombia. Despite its unsafe connotation, Bogotá is a busy little city nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

The cobblestoned roads in the city makes it a great attraction for tourists going to many of the city’s museums in old colonial buildings mixed with unique modern structures.

anonymous asked:

Hi! I just saw a post that to me didn't make sense. It was about the difference between Hispanic and Latino. They said that Hispanic = "Spanish speaking" and Latino = "from Latinamerica" but I don't think that's right. I was taught that Hispanic is someone who is a descendant of Spain while Latino is someone who is a descendant of a Latin-based nation (e.i. French, Spanish, Italian, etc.). I just wanted clarification if that's alright.

Well, at least with the English-speaking context I’m familiar with, we never really call European countries who speak Romance/Latin languages “latinos”. We call them perhaps “Romance/Latin-speaking countries”. Kind of how we usually don’t call countries with Germanic languages “Germans”? We might say Germanic-speaking nations.

From my own experience, I’ve always heard “latin@” being used to refer to people from Latin America, not to Europeans in Latin-speaking nations. The notion I get is that it’s simply meant to denote the linguistic and cultural difference from British North America, by therefore grouping all the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies together, Spain and Portugal both being culturally more similar as neighbours on the Iberian peninsular. Technically Canada has French influence too, but the sense I get is the crucial distinction being made is between British influence/Spanish + Portuguese influence. Hence the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino”- because of the extensive Spanish and Portuguese cultural influence over the Americas, plus the fact that people in Latin America are a mix of ethnicities due to immigration and colonisation.

I get the sense this collective term is used because things like a geographic demarcation such as “North America” aren’t adequate as Mexico is part of North America, and had Spanish influence. It wants to group the cultural entity imo. But again, usage of this term is not exactly consistent- I have personally not really heard of Filipinos being referred to as “Hispanics” even though like Mexico, they were a Spanish colony for like 300 years and absorbed a lot of Spanish influences- lots of surnames and given names are Spanish.

But I suppose in other places the terms may be used differently, which is why you learnt otherwise- it all depends.