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jeremy project emblem

NASA, Santa Clara University and U.S. Coast Guard emblems


The Jeremy Project
Explore the Arctic Circle!

On August 23 - 25 the Jeremy Project will be at the site of the Bering Land Bridge exploring this amazing paleontological site.

As part of the "Jeremy Project," scientists will be using NASA's Pathfinder technology in an attempt to locate and record an underwater paleontological site just north of Point Hope, Alaska. TROV will be deployed once again in an effort to locate and provide images, by way of its stereo cameras, of what is believed to be an assembly of bones, the remains of a large extinct mammal dating back earlier than ten thousand years ago. What type of mammal this animal was for sure is yet to be determined, though it is thought to be either a mastodon or mammoth, both large quadrupeds resembling modern elephants. TROV's film and photographs will help to determine this. Extensive maps of the skeleton assemblage, as well as the surrounding area, will be produced for scientific study.

Press Release from TROV maker Deep Ocean Engineering

The 55-mile stretch of water that we know today as the Bering Strait has not always existed as such; during the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from approximately 1.6 million to 10,000 years ago, much more of Earth's water was trapped in the polar ice sheets, resulting in lower sea levels than what we are familiar with today. It is estimated that during the glacial phase of the Pleistocene, known as the Wisconsin glacial period, the oceans dropped by as much as 350 feet below the current level. This would not make an enormous difference in places where the offshore continental shelf drops off drastically, but this is not the case in the Bering Strait area. Instead, the shelf tends to fall away at a gentler slope, magnifying the effects of even a relatively small drop in sea level, and exposing large areas of "new" shoreline. It is thought that this phenomena lead to a "bridge" of dry land, one thousand miles across at the widest part, closing the gap between North America and Asia. The fossil record backs this idea, as the remains of both plants and animals too similar not to be closely related have been found on both sides of the proposed location for the ancient Bering Land Bridge.

The consequences of this event were crucial. Plants and animals were now able to migrate freely across what is today a completely submerged plain. Pleistocene mammals would have been theoretically able to cross the bridge between forty and about thirteen thousand years ago. Regardless of the exact time, they did cross-and humans followed them. Just when exactly humans first populated the Americas is under debate, but it is relatively safe to say that by twelve thousand years ago, Homo sapiens (sapiens) had become firmly established in the New World. The object of our search on this particular mission, however, is not so much focused on the people themselves, but more so on the mammals that shared the land with them. Hopefully, by studying all elements of the environment at the time, we can shed more light on the lifestyles of the early human inhabitants of North America.

Our Objective

Our primary goal with regards to the Beringia question is to investigate an alleged site containing the bones of one of the Pleistocene mammals that would have been living in the area during the time of the land bridge. We will first attempt to find the site, using TROV's (Telepresence Remotely Operated Vehicle) cameras. If and when we locate the site, our objectives will be to film and map the site, while attempting to determine what type of animal this is. From what we know, it is most likely either a mastodon or a mammoth, two large extinct terrestrial mammals belonging to the same group of animals that modern elephants belong to. By focusing our survey on the animal's teeth, we should be able to determine this. Also, we want to know what condition the remains are in. This can give us clues as to how the animal died, as well as whether or not it died where it is currently located. There is always the possibility that the animal died somewhere else, and the bones were washed down a river and deposited where we find them, or that they were even carried by early human hunters. Aside from the skeleton itself, we will also pay attention to its surroundings, which may give us clues about the environment at the time: is there any evidence of an ancient forest? What about a river bed? These questions relate to the fields of paleogeography and paleoclimatology. Certainly, we are also aware of the possibility that evidence of early human activity could be present as well, though unlikely. Signs that could point to this include tools, tool markings on the bones, or even purposeful arrangement of the bones by human hands. All of these signs are extremely difficult to determine, of course, and therefore more thorough analysis of the bones will be conducted later by way of film and photographs.



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