13:44 09 June 2009 by Catherine Brahic
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“Nearly 10,000 years ago, 50 metres beneath the surface of what is now North America's Lake Huron, hunters set an ambush. Caribou were herded through stone corridors towards archers that lay waiting behind low parapets. No bones or drawings have been found to tell this ancient tale. Instead sonar mapping has given researchers detailed views of the lake floor, which flooded 8000 years ago, preserving a Pompeii-like snapshot of local human history…Another intriguing find was brought about by a lucky accident, says the team. While they were investigating the site with their remotely operated submarine, its trailing communications cable snagged on a stone. When taking the sub back to free the cable, the operators found that it was caught on another pile of rocks that were seemingly arranged by human hands. The feature consists of a flat rock standing vertically on top of a pile of other stones. Meadows says it resembles an inukshuk – a type of "sculpture" used by modern-day Inuit to signal that they have been in an area.”
Caption: Caribou drive lanes have been used in the Canadian Arctic for many hundreds of years.
(Image: O’Shea et al./PNAS)
§ Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0902785106)