cave diving

Cenote El Pit by TomStGeorge The Pit is an incredible dive site in Tulum, Mexico. A fresh water sinkhole with unlimited visibility, a hydrogen sulfide layer (aka ‘the cloud’), and an 'island’ of debris (with it’s own tree which you can see in the pitcure). In the summer the light beams streaming through the entrance are simply breathtaking.

nature.com
Skeleton plundered from Mexican cave was one of the Americas’ oldest
Rock-encased bone shard left behind by thieves allowed researchers to determine that the remains are probably more than 13,000 years old.

A human skeleton that was stolen from an underwater cave in Mexico in 2012 may be one of the oldest ever found in the Americas. Scientists have now put the age of the skeleton at more than 13,000 years old after analysing a shard of hip bone — left behind by the thieves because it was embedded in a stalagmite.

Cave divers discovered the remains in February 2012 in a submerged cave called Chan Hol near Tulúm on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, and posted photos of a nearly complete skull and other whole bones to social media. The posts caught the attention of archaeologists Arturo González González at the Desert Museum in Saltillo, Mexico, and Jerónimo Avilés Olguín at the Institute of American Prehistory in Cancún.

By the time researchers visited the cave in late March, the remains were gone — except for about 150 bone fragments and a pelvic bone that had been subsumed by a stalagmite growing up from the cave floor. On the basis of these bones, the researchers think that the skeleton belonged to a young man who died when sea levels were much lower and the cave was above ground.

Dating techniques

To determine the age of human remains, researchers often measure levels of a radioactive isotope of carbon in collagen protein within bones. But in this case, most of the collagen had been leached out by water while the bones were submerged, making this method unreliable, says Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, a palaeontologist and geoscientist at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, who led the efforts to date the remains.

Instead, Stinnesbeck’s team collected a fleck of the pelvis bone and surrounding stalagmite, which contains a mineral called calcite. The team then dated the rock using the relative levels of uranium and thorium isotopes in the calcite. The deeper into the stalagmite the researchers sampled, the older the dates turned out to be; stone just 2 centimetres from the bone was 11,300 years old. Calcite closer to the bone gave conflicting results, Stinnesbeck says.

The team determined that the skeleton was older than 13,000 years by analysing the rate at which calcite had formed around the bone, and by matching the shifts in stalagmite isotope levels to those in other caves. The findings were published on 30 August in PLoS ONE1.

A diver collects a portion of a cave stalagmite found in cave that contains ancient human bones.

Alistair Pike, an archaeological scientist at the University of Southampton, UK, notes that the stalagmite set over the bone during a time of profound climate change, which could have altered the stalagmite’s rate of growth. He says he is therefore more comfortable considering the bones to be a minimum of 11,300 years old — still “very significant”, he notes.

Ancient company

Few other human remains from the Americas are older than 13,000 years. The skeleton of a teenage girl recovered from a different Yucatán cave was carbon-dated to more than 12,000 years old, and a skeleton found in another submerged cave near Tulúm was deemed to be around 13,500 years old, also using radiocarbon dating.

“They’ve done a really nice job determining the age of this thing,” says David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. There is convincing archaeological proof that humans colonized the Americas before 14,000 years ago, but very old remains are precious. “These sites are rare as hen’s teeth,” Meltzer says.

Apart from the Yucatán finds, the next-oldest skeleton from the Americas is that of a 12,600-year-old boy found in Montana, whose sequenced genome places him on a lineage leading to present-day Native American groups. Researchers have sequenced only a few other human skeletons from the Americas that are older than 10,000 years, hindering efforts to unravel the region’s ancient population history.

A stalagmite had grown around a shard of ancient pelvic bone (bottom portion).

Getting DNA from what remains of the Chan Hol skeleton will be hard. A sample sent to one of the world’s leading ancient-DNA labs, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, did not contain enough DNA, Stinnesbeck says. He hopes to find DNA in the few teeth not taken by the thieves.

The theft still boggles Stinnesbeck, whose team is continuing to study the cave and its remains. The researchers recently reported the discovery of fossils in the cave that are of a new species of peccary2 — a hoofed mammal related to pigs — as well as evidence that the cave’s human inhabitants made fires.

“What would you want with a skeleton? Would you take it home?” Stinnesbeck asks. “If they had known it was very old, maybe just to have a souvenir, to have something special.”

“We went to the police and they did some inquiries,” he adds. “They never came up with anything substantial.”

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Dive into a cave on the edge of the island of Okinawa. these islands are a mixture of volcanic rock and coral reefs, so this is either a cave eroded into limestone or a lava tube perhaps?

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Blue Hole Caves

A blue hole is a cave (inland) or underwater sinkhole. They are also called vertical caves. There are many different blue holes located around the world, typically in low-lying coastal regions. The best known examples can be found in Belize, the Bahamas, Guam, Australia (in the Great Barrier Reef), and Egypt (in the Red Sea).

Blue holes are roughly circular, steep-walled depressions, and so named for the dramatic contrast between the dark blue, deep waters of their depths and the lighter blue of the shallows around them. Their water circulation is poor, and they are commonly anoxic below a certain depth; this environment is unfavorable for most sea life, but nonetheless can support large numbers of bacteria.

Blue holes formed during past ice ages, when sea level was as much as 100–120 metres (330–390 ft) lower than at present. At those times, these formations were targets of the same erosion from rain and chemical weathering common in all limestone-rich terrains; this ended once they were submerged at the end of the ice age.  (Wikipedia: x)

(Click on individual photos for sources.)

so i was thinking about another modern au where the greek gods have had to adapt to modern society and so they’ve picked up mortal jobs and hobbies and interests and i got really into it.

hermes is a late night comedian, since that’s the way that most information is transmitted nowadays, and he still gets to poke fun at his siblings.

poseidon is a high powered eco lawyer. he works on high profile cases along the lines of the bp oil spill. he has beach-side houses all over the world and enjoys thrill-seeking outdoor activities like cliff jumping and cave diving. 

hades teaches high school english, along the lines of the dead poets society. he lives near his school and brings his dog to school every day. he loves teaching british literature like shakespeare and john donne. his wife comes to visit him and they eat lunch together every day in his office, which always has flowers in it. 

apollo works as a librarian at a university, and he moonlights as a slam poet. he teaches archery at the local YMCA and stays in on weekends with a mug of tea and a good book or movie.

vesta makes ceramics professionally. she feels most at home among the wheels and glazes and kilns of her workshop. there are always candles lit in her apartment that don’t seem to go out. she loves hosting dinner parties for her friends, who are her true family. 

dionysus works as a bartender. he owns a vineyard on the side but lets other people handle the corporate side of things. his favorite part of acting mortal is getting to know the people who come to his bar and connecting with them. he never forgets a face and he has a wall of pictures of his favorite customers behind the bar.

athena teaches middle school social studies/history because she’s discovered that she really enjoys working with children. at this age she can impart wisdom upon them and teach them logic and reason before they are too swayed by the opinions of the world.

zeus is a con artist and art thief. he never stays in a city for more than a week, but he has someone new in his bed every night. he frequents casinos and clubs and owns a villa out in California which is filled with more famous works of art than he ought to have.

hera is a very bitter and sarcastic wedding planer, like james marsden in 27 dresses minus the journalism bit. she is most famous among celebrity circles for having just the right “touch” when it comes to decor and menu planning and floral arrangements. she charges a ton but can work magic, from short-term planning to getting the bride’s wishes just right. she doesn’t believe in the sanctity of marriage but it has bought her summer homes in hawaii and costa rica so she’ll sell the idealized vision.

aphrodite runs several dating sites like eharmony and okcupid, but also some like ashley madison that facilitate affairs because she rules more over the sexual side of things than the love side, despite her image to the former. she loves rap and hip hop and takes kick-boxing classes and always looks like she has makeup on. she anonymously supports planned parenthood because she wants to support safe sex and allow people to find the information and resources they need. 

artemis owns a climbing gym and leads outdoor climbing adventures for her clients and also her buddies. she has tons of tattoos and piercings and a secret love for pop punk music like fob and p!atd. on the weekends, she runs lgbtqia+ support groups for children and teens in her neighborhood, and always lets them climb for free in her gym.

hephaestus owns a tattoo parlor and has a reputation for the most lifelike tattoos that always seem to be exactly what someone had in mind, as if he magically could see their thoughts. he’s a total teddybear and has a penchant for classical music and teaches at-risk children in his city how to repair bikes and cars on the weekends.