Happy Independence Day!

The Rock Island Line painted EMD E8 #652 in this Bicentennial paint scheme. This photo at La Salle Street Station is from August 1977 - note the old-style open-window commuter cars with no air conditioning!

Photo by Tom Sink

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Special Collection Fourth of July

  • RedTulip of Unknown Variety? (Tulipa sp.)
  • WhitePacific or Oregon Crapbapple? (Malus fusca)
  • BlueArmenian or Garden Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Chicago, Illinois, United States, 2015
Millennium Park / Lurie Garden

I was trying to think of something I could do that was a little bit different for today, and I finally came up with this. Happy Fourth!

Ancient bobcat buried like a human being

About 2000 years ago in what is today western Illinois, a group of Native Americans buried something unusual in a sacred place. In the outer edge of a funeral mound typically reserved for humans, villagers interred a bobcat, just a few months old and wearing a necklace of bear teeth and marine shells. The discovery represents the only known ceremonial burial of an animal in such mounds and the only individual burial of a wild cat in the entire archaeological record, researchers claim in a new study. The villagers may have begun to tame the animal, the authors say, potentially shedding light on how dogs, cats, and other animals were domesticated.

“It’s surprising and marvelous and extremely special,” says Melinda Zeder, a zooarchaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. But Zeder, who was not involved in the study, says it’s unclear whether these people treated the bobcat as a pet or invested the animal with a larger spiritual significance. Read more.