An ancient forest has thawed from under a melting glacier in Alaska and is now exposed to the world for the first time in more than 1,000 years.
Stumps and logs have been popping out from under southern Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier — a 36.8-square-mile (95.3 square kilometers) river of ice flowing into a lake near Juneau — for nearly the past 50 years. However, just within the past year or so, researchers based at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau have noticed considerably more trees popping up, many in their original upright position and some still bearing roots and even a bit of bark, the Juneau Empire first reported last week.
"There are a lot of them, and being in a growth position is exciting because we can see the outermost part of the tree and count back to see how old the tree was," Cathy Connor, a geology professor at the University of Alaska Southeast who was involved in the investigation, told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet. "Mostly, people find chunks of wood helter-skelter, but to see these intact upright is kind of cool."
The team has tentatively identified the trees as either spruce or hemlock, based on the diameter of the trunks and because these are the types of trees growing in the region today, Connor said, but the researchers still need to further assess the samples to verify the tree type.
A protective tomb of gravel likely encased the trees more than 1,000 years ago, when the glacier was advancing, Connor said, basing the date on radiocarbon ages of the newly revealed wood. As glaciers advance, Connor explained, they often emit summer meltwater streams that spew aprons of gravel beyond the glacier’s edge.
10 Wild Facts About Chameleons
- 1 — Changes in light, temperature or emotion can prompt Chameleons to change color - they do not change color to camouflage themselves.
- 2 — Their tongues moves faster than human eyes can follow, hitting their prey in about 30 thousandths of a second. They have ballistic tongues that are 1.5 - 2 times the length of their body.
- 3 — The word ‘chameleon’ is a combination of two Greek words, “Chamai”, meaning ‘on the ground’ and “Leon” meaning ‘lion’.
- 4 — Chameleons do not have any ears.
- 5 — Almost half of the world’s species live on the island of Madagascar with 59 different species there. There are approximately 160 species of chameleon worldwide.
- 6 — Chameleon eyes have a 360-degree arc of vision and can see two directions at once. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously, which lets their eyes move independently of each other.
- 7 — Their feet resemble tongs with five toes that are fused into one group of two and another group of three.
- 8 — A prehensile tail is adapted for grasping especially by wrapping around an object.
- 9 — Males are typically much more ornamented. Many have head or facial ornamentation such as horn-like projections while others have large crests on top of their heads.
- 10 — Chameleons vary greatly in size and structure. Their lengths can vary from 15 millimeters (0.6 in) in the male Brookesia micra (one of the world’s smallest reptiles) to 68.5 centimeters (30 in) in the male Furcifer oustaleti.
The Road of Rest by Shingo Takei
Northern stars shine above Japanese Alps (the northern range). The photographer has made this image in a moonlit night from Mount Norikura in Gifu Prefecture, Central Japan.
A dirty thunderstorm (also, Volcanic lightning) is a weather phenomenon that occurs when lightning is produced in a volcanic plume. A study in the journal Science indicated that electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges, just as ice particles collide in regular thunderstorms.
The Milky Way above a sea of clouds
Image credit: R. Bertero
hues of Uroplatus Phantasticus that mimic varying stages of leaf decay
Above All by Michal Karcz
View more of Michal’s photography on his website.
“This picture contains three shots mixed together in Photoshop. This is I what do with my pictures, to create a fantasy version of the Earth. This picture contains photo of a mountain path in West Tatra Mountains and includes the clouds structures, and the main, high peak is Ama Dablam shot in Himalayas.” – Michal Karcz
Image copyright Michal Karcz and used with permission.