Friday, December 9, 2011

AMERICAN NEANDERTHALS - SORRY LEIF ERICSON AND COLUMBUS, THEY BEAT YOU TO AMERICA BY 49,000 YEARS.

ARCHAEOLOGIST FISHERMEN EXCEED THEIR CATCH LIMITS IN MONTEREY BAY.  Flanked by the stunning "Venus of Monterey" dagger and petrified archery bow from the Monterey Canyon cave excavation. Pacific Shelf Research CEO, Curt Novolin, proudly displays his greatest trophy of the day. A well preserved skull of an adult male NEANDERTHAL. Who evidently flourished on the coast of central California circa 50,000 years BP. How a Neanderthal got to North America so long ago. And how his remains and artifacts ended up beneath 456 ft. (139 m) of seawater. Just two of the many questions baffling scientists, academicians, and scholars from diverse disciplines around the world. (This article contains 19 figures, including Fig. 13-A, and 41 paragraphs.)

THE NEANDERTHAL CAVE SITE

A WATERY WORLD TODAY, BUT HIGH AND DRY 50,000 YEARS AGO.
 
(1.) On August 25, 2011, about 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time), while exploring the immense submarine canyons (Figs. 8-10) off Monterey, California. Submersible divers from Pacific Shelf Research (PSR), San Diego, made a discovery that has rocked the conventional wisdom on Paleoamericans. To wit, the first Neanderthal remains ever found in the Western Hemisphere. Including an excellent skull (Fig. 1); a fossilized archery bow (Figs. 5-7); and an artfully crafted knife (Fig. 4), with a curious Venus of Willendorf-like handle. Which PSR has unofficially dubbed the, "Venus of Monterey". And all the former property of a Neanderthal residing on the shores of Pleistocene California circa 50,000 years Before Present (BP). (NOTE: The term 'Present' is now universally defined by scientists as January 1, 1950. Signifying the advent of radiocarbon dating technologies, and atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.)

(2.) PSR's Founder, CEO, and Chief Scientist, Curt Novolin, withheld announcement of their discovery for weeks. Pending radiocarbon dating of the skull and likely hearth charcoal recovered from the deep offshore site. Novolin: "We definitely took our sweet time with this one. We had to make certain that what could be one of the greatest finds in the history of anthropology, archaeology, and everything else was exactly as advertised. So we had three separate labs do the radiometric work, in three different countries. And they all reported around fifty thousand for the skull, and the charcoal. Give or take about five grand, very conservative, one way or the other. Yes, fifty thousand is pushing the envelope for carbon-14. But their precise age is not the issue here. The fact that they exist at all is the issue. We are still reeling from it. None of this fits the standard theories on Paleoindians, ice ages, you name it. Let alone Neanderthals."
 
AN UNDERSEA VOYAGE TO (FORMER) CALIFORNIA BEACHFRONT PROPERTY.  In early August of 2011, PSR prepares for an initial survey of Monterey Canyon with Seamount Rover - II, the smallest of their two surface vessels. And one of their much older, yet reliable, one-man submersibles. Although the latest commercial and technical diving suits were at their disposal, PSR opted instead for deployment of their new, two-man submarines (Fig. 3). PSR's Chief Technology Officer and Lead Diver, Mark Prandin, explains: "Both figuratively and literally, decompression issues can still be a monster headache on projects like this one. But that's if you're working with traditional dive gear only. Truth be told, very little has changed in that regard over the many decades now. That's why, below sixty feet (18.3 m), we launch the subs. Too conservative? No, just too smart. And working in one of those latest, NASA-looking, Atmospheric Diving Suits is like flossing teeth with the body and claws of a lobster. For many reasons, we dove with the new subs. No pressure worries; longer dive times; climate-controlled housing; best communications; easier rescues; no shark attacks. Given a choice between safety, or volunteering as lunch for a Great White. We select safety every time. That's the bottom line at PSR."

(3.) PSR made their history making discovery on the steep slopes near the entrance to the Soquel Canyon arm of the Monterey Canyon (MC) undersea complex (Figs. 8-10). The largest and deepest sea bottom trench system off the coastline of North America. If measured in a straight line trajectory, the MC's primary gorge tracks along the continental shelf and ocean floor in a southwesterly direction for about 95 miles (152.9 km). But when reckoned along its entire meandering pathway (Fig. 10), it actually ranges over 300 miles (482.8 km). Indeed, a few million years ago when likely occupied by a large river, the MC's main channel must have snaked over 500 miles (804.7 km) across a somehow uncovered coastal seabed (Figs. 11 & 13-A).

(4.) The Neanderthal find is inside a recently exposed underwater cave (Fig. 3), beneath a startling 456 ft. (139 m) of seawater. It is near the top of the north face of the MC wall (Fig. 9), just below the edge of the MC plateau. The cave is 15.5 miles (24.9 km) due west of bustling Moss Landing marina. Which is centered on the California coast between the popular tourist towns of Santa Cruz to the north, and Monterey to the south. Just eight miles (12.9 km) due south of the cave, the MC's main chasm drops to over 3,000 ft. (914.4 m) below sea level. And then descends to a staggering depth of 11,800 ft. (3,596.6 m) into Davy Jones' Locker.

A NEANDERTHAL STARTER HOME, WITH SWEEPING VIEWS OF (PLEISTOCENE) MONTEREY BAY.  Under the glare of high-intensity lights and strobes from all angles, an inquisitive Leopard Shark scrutinizes a manipulator arm on one of PSR's new, two-man submersibles. As an aloof Rockfish circles at left. On 9-15-11 when this photo was taken, a PSR sister sub cautiously navigated the murky waters at the Monterey Canyon cave entrance for a final accounting of the Neanderthal dig. Although near noon on a clear day, only a dim glow of sunlight (far background, top) is visible from the 456 ft. (139 m) depth of the cave. Which slants skyward at a considerable angle of nearly 30 degrees. Barely 35 ft. (10.7 m) at its widest point, the 78 ft. (23.8 m) long cave afforded little room for maneuvering the subs. The Neanderthal relics were all recovered from the cave's lower wall and floor (left of PSR's plastic flags), about 47 ft. (14.3 m) from the cave entrance. PSR's Chief Geologist and a seasoned diver, Steve Keppra: "There are several puzzling issues about this Neanderthal cave site. The archery bow (Fig. 5) in particular appears to have been deliberately entombed in a shallow niche near the base of the cave wall (left of flags). It was evidently encased or packed in there with a primitive masonry-like cement. The outer half of which must have fallen off and washed away, perhaps thousands of years later. But the original containment was intact long enough to facilitate the bow's eventual fossilization. And that skull, with that peculiar dagger. All in close proximity to the petrified bow. And oddly, we found no other bones nor artifacts in there whatsoever. I suggest this cave was a makeshift shrine, commemorating an important Neanderthal chieftain, shaman, or priest. Even at first glance, the vicinity of the bow, skull, and knife looked to me like a crude ceremonial altar. But there are of course alternative explanations as to what actually transpired in there. It may have been a Homo sapiens cave, celebrating or embellishing the kill of an enemy Neanderthal. And then sequestering the bow that killed him, plus the Neanderthal's skull. But I don't think so. I was in there, and the cave evinces an almost palpable Neanderthal mise en scène. For whatever arcane reasons, they must have been consecrating that archery bow. And the cranium of the fellow to whom it belonged. It's just fascinating stuff."

(5.) At the time of the find, the PSR divers were piloting their new submersibles, each capable of operating at depths to a little over 3,000 ft. (914.4 m). PSR's Junior Staff Geologist, Julian Levemir: "We got impossibly lucky here.  Stumbling upon a Neanderthal treasure cave (Fig. 3) in the Western Hemisphere on only our fourth day out. Didn't even find it with side-scan. Just snooping around in the new subs with Google Earth, NOAA charts, and scientists' intuition --- which must be pretty good! Given the large, fresh, debris fields at and around the site, it appeared the cave had been disclosed quite recently. Perhaps a few weeks or months earlier by a sizable landslide. This was no slow erosion process. But encountering a cave, per se, in a submarine canyon is hardly astounding. It was what we found in there that blew us away."

THE NEANDERTHAL SKULL AND ARTIFACTS
 
AN INNOVATIVE BOW AND KNIFE CRAFTSMAN?  OR DID A HOMO SAPIENS MAKE THEM BOTH?

(6.) As summarized in Para. 1, the specimens extracted from the Monterey Canyon cave include: (a.) One nearly complete skull (Fig. 1) from an adult male Neanderthal, circa 40 years old at time of death. (b.) The intricately carved "Venus of Monterey" dagger (Fig. 4), eight inches (20.3 cm) long overall. With a four inch (10.2 cm) flint blade, and a sandstone handle of same length. The handle apparently represents a rotund woman with large breasts, no limbs, abstract head, and highly stylized hair. (c.) And a fossilized 'recurve' archery bow (Figs. 5-7), approximately 58 inches (147.3 cm) original unstrung length. When measured tip to tip along its straight, longitudinal axis.
 
THE CUTTING EDGE OF NEANDERTHAL TECHNOLOGY, AND ARTISTRY TOO.  Perhaps a harbinger of Austria's famed Venus of Willendorf figurine (c. 25K BP), the skillfully fashioned "Venus of Monterey" Neanderthal dagger predates it by over 20K years. Upon closer examination, the knife's flint blade evinces a cat- or bear-like face near its tip end. To which its owner may have attributed special esoteric significance. PSR's Anthropologist, George Westcort, elaborates: "Like the historic Venus statuettes of Willendorf, Lespugue, Dolní Věstonice, and Hohle Fels, there are some obvious female fertility motifs here. The exaggerated breasts and corpulent torso. But the insertion of that flint blade into the base of this feminine image evokes strong male phallic symbolism. Whether or not metaphorically or allegorically intended as such, this is clearly an object with hermaphroditic implications. A curious juxtaposition of womanly versus masculine iconography. Also, I suggest the evocative coloration of the flint material was the initial impetus for the Neanderthal selecting it as the dagger's blade. He may have perceived in that mineral staining the physiognomy (near blade point) of an important game or respected animal. Which may have imbued the knife with a supernatural quality for hunting, culinary, or sacrificial rituals." Sculpted from a dense sandstone, the dagger's deteriorated and fragile handle will soon be reinforced by injection of the latest UV epoxy resins into its numerous cracks. Westcort: "We have not yet X-rayed the handle. It must be done before we proceed any further with our preliminary conservation efforts. I am especially curious as to what was used to cement the blade into that unusual handle, and how that was accomplished. We could remove for analysis some of what appears to be a glue-like material around the base of the handle. But the risk of damage to the object is not really worth it. Except for a thin layer of tenacious marine encrustation on both sides, the flint blade portion of the knife is in near-pristine condition. Its still sharp edges connote that it was rarely used as a cutting or stabbing implement. I think it was a very prized, coveted knife, with vital ceremonial or even religious consequence for its owner and his associates."

(7.) PSR's Marine Archaeologist, Anthony Renvela, marvels at the collection: "The best word to describe this find is simply astonishing. The skull (Fig. 1) speaks for itself. Impressive certainly by its sheer existence alone, but nevertheless typical of the type. As an archaeologist, the artifacts are much more compelling. Consider what we have here. From fifty thousand BP, a presumed technologically challenged Neanderthal. Nevertheless, with a sophisticated archery weapon (Figs. 5-7), and a fashionable flint dagger (Fig. 4). And even just figuring a geometric great circle route, at least six thousand miles (9,656.1 km) away from where he's supposed be. But most amazing is that knife. Definitely a prime candidate for the world's oldest item of undisputed art. Not to mention the imagination and fine tools needed to produce such an object. And the leisure time to sculpt it from a hard sandstone and flint. Plus a recurve orientation archery bow? Come on now! That should not have appeared on store shelves until around four thousand Before Present, in the Levant or Egypt."

(8.) Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that bow and arrow  technologies first emerged about 40K years BP. However, (likely) stone arrowheads found in 2010 in Sibudu cave, South Africa, have pushed that figure back to at least 64K years BP. Circa 90-125K years BP --- according to the popular Out of Africa theory --- Homo sapiens first departed the 'Dark Continent' for Eurasia and all points beyond. And while packing their bags, they may have included far older models of archery appliances. (NOTE: A rival theory of equal credibility, the Multiregional Hypothesis, argues that H. sapiens evolved from geographically divergent populations of much earlier human antecedents [e.g., H. erectus]. Who had already settled Eurasia long before H. sapiens ever existed. I.e., H. erectus [et al.] used their Out of Africa tickets at least several hundred thousand years before H. sapiens was even a twinkle in Evolution's eye. As such, H. sapiens did not evolve exclusively within Africa. Nor did they later suddenly depart Africa to colonize the rest of the world. Instead, H. sapiens descended over time from the H. erectus [et al.] communities long extant in Europe, Asia, and the western Pacific Rim [e.g., Java]. And in Africa too, of course.)

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY HITS THE ARCHERY BULL'S-EYE.  Laboriously exhumed from the Monterey Canyon (MC) cave and now partially conserved, the fossilized Neanderthal archery bow (above, & Figs. 6-7) is apparently an advanced 'recurve' design. A bow scheme not thought to exist until circa four K years BP, somewhere in the Near East or Central Asia. The bow's innovative configuration has shocked scientists and archery buffs everywhere. Indeed, the MC bow may constitute a Stone Age prototype of extreme 'reflex' archery weapon technologies yet to evolve (Fig. 7). PSR's Marine Archaeologist, a devoted archer himself, Anthony Renvela: "What makes the MC bow so remarkable is not only its futuristic recurve shape. And that it was likely fabricated by the Neanderthal found with it. Moreover, it predates all other unequivocal wooden bow or arrow finds by nearly forty thousand years." Wood decays rapidly, but the MC cave bow became petrified. That allowed it to persist so later humans might one day find it. But it also made it a daunting task to extricate the bow from the cave wall (Fig. 3) with recurrently cumbersome submersibles. No matter how high-tech nor sophisticated those new subs may be. Renvela: "We couldn't carbon date the bow proper because it is completely fossilized. But the skull and probable fireplace charcoal found near it sufficed for radiometric dating purposes. And accordingly, estimating the age of the bow as well. Hammering, drilling, and sawing the bow out of its conglomerate sepulcher (Fig. 3) with the subs' manipulator arms was a formidable and exhausting task. But the right arms on our new subs can do everything, short of threading a needle. Finally though, the bow came out affixed to one long, thick piece of the cave wall. Like a carefully excised section of a bas-relief wall sculpture. Where a substantial portion of the underlying substrate must be extracted along with it. And remain attached thereto forever to support the superficial illustrations, inscriptions, art, et cetera. To visually isolate the bow's profile from its permanent stone foundation, we photographed it with blue screen imaging. It's a tricky process, but it eventually produced the black background we desired for interim pictorial purposes. In other words, it will never be a bow that one can simply pick up and examine like one in a sporting goods store. And much work is needed towards a reasonably professional looking exhibit."
 
(9.) At least as early as 30K years BP, during the Paleolithic Era (Old Stone Age). Talented Homo sapiens artists produced vivid, well executed illustrations of archery bows and arrows (in action) on the walls of the now celebrated caves of France. The Paleolithic Era ran from circa 2.5 million to 12K years BP. But due to wood's rapid decomposition, actual material remains of archery equipment are not found until the Mesolithic Era (Middle Stone Age). Some of Europe's oldest and best preserved bows were discovered in the 1940's in Denmark's Holmegårds Mose, a raised bog. The site of a Mesolithic settlement dated to circa nine K years BP. The relics of five wooden bows have been recovered there. Because it is fossilized, the Monterey Canyon bow does not qualify as an enduring, intact, wood artifact. (NOTE: The timeline for the Mesolithic Era varies wildly. Dependent upon the scholarly source of the Era's definition, and the territory to which it is applied. Moreover, in light of modern laboratory dating methodologies, terms like Mesolithic and Neolithic [New Stone Age] are now considerate antiquated and obsolete by most scientists.)
 
A SHORT HISTORY OF 'NEANDERTHAL MAN'

HAPLESS HUMAN COMPETITORS, LONG SINCE VANISHED?  OR STILL LURKING IN OUR DNA?
 
(10.) Neanderthal is a defunct member of the genus Homo (Latin for human, or man). They are known from late Pleistocene Epoch specimens found in western and central Eurasia. The Pleistocene Epoch ran from approximately 2.5 million to 12K years BP. It paralleled the timeline of the Paleolithic Era, noted above. So what's the difference? Pleistocene circumscribes a geologic interval in Earth's history. While Paleolithic delineates an episode of archaeological time in human prehistory, commencing with the earliest stone tools and implements. Neanderthals may be classified as a human subspecies (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), or a separate human species altogether (Homo neanderthalensis). Sapiens is Latin for wise or knowing. Ergo, Homo sapiens means wise, erudite human. (NOTE: Two definitions of Neanderthal are presented in the next paragraph, utilizing each of the primate's recognized taxonomic codifications.)

REASSEMBLING A PETRIFIED PALEOLITHIC PUZZLE.  When first detected, nearly the entire profile of the Neanderthal bow (above, and Figs. 5 & 7) was protruding somewhat from the Monterey Canyon (MC) cave's lower wall. PSR's CEO, Curt Novolin, explains: "When initially spotted from the subs, it looked like a wall sculpture of a recurve bow in bas-relief. My colleagues concur that the cave-facing half of the bow's original encasement must have fallen off at some later time (Fig. 3). Thereby exposing one longitudinal side of the bow along its entire length. Like removing only half of an iron mold for an aluminum tool, after the molten aluminum has been poured in and hardened." One of the MC bow limbs appears to have a string 'nock' near its tip end (Fig. 6, bottom right). I.e., an incised groove or slot, to which the bowstring would have been attached. But the end of the other limb, including its string nock, seemingly was broken off. Novolin: "The position of that one likely string nock --- in conjunction with the convoluted outline of the two limbs --- intimates that this item was intended to be a recurve archery weapon at point of Stone Age manufacture. But without that one probable string nock, I would have campaigned instead for the simpler longbow style of archery format. Albeit of an atypical, undulating silhouette. Could this bow be simply a found tree branch, stick, or sapling? Merely a natural piece of wood, already possessing a basic archery shape? Actually, that's quite possible. Indeed, early humans could have been intentionally seeking such organic archery bow contours. And if not quite perfect, then soak, treat, heat, wrap, or otherwise bend the wood into the desired alignment."

(11.) In English, the German term 'Neanderthal' means Neander Valley. Which pays homage to the esteemed 17th Century German pastor, Joachim Neander. Whose sermons and writings were inspired by the idyllic beauty of the subject little valley near Düsseldorf, Germany. And of course eponymous fossils of a brawny extinct Eurasian were found therein in 1856 (Para. 14). Prior to 1850, the valley was called Neandershöhle (Neander's Hollow). In 1901, a German language reform proclamation altered the valley's name one last time to Neandertal. And ensis is a Latin suffix for 'pertaining to' or 'originating in'. So in the final etymological analysis, the subspecies nomenclature Homo sapiens neanderthalensis indicates: A wise, informed person from Neander Valley. Whereas the species jargon Homo neanderthalensis equates to: A basic human being from Neander Valley, but neither enlightened nor conversant on any subject.

(12.) The first proto-Neanderthal skeletal traits appeared in Europe as early as 350-600K years BP. By 130K years BP, the entire suite of Neanderthal anatomical attributes had coalesced. Including their trademarked, Protruding Brow Ridges. But those distinctive Neanderthal hallmarks disappeared from Asia by 50K years BP (moved to California?), then vanished from Europe around 28K years BP. And no later specimens have yet surfaced manifesting enough features of the type to be included within either of the two neanderthalensis designations.

STRINGING ALL THE EVIDENCE TOGETHER.  When artificially strung by PSR's computer, the Neanderthal bow (above, & Figs. 5-6) from Monterey Canyon (MC) evoked the familiar profile of 'recurve' archery devices found throughout most of recorded history. PSR's Chief Technology Officer, Mark Prandin: "The MC bow incorporates certain elements of powerful, leading-edge, reflex bows of later antiquity. Reflex bows --- an improved derivative of the recurve design --- were exploited by the likes of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde, Ottoman Turks, to name just a few. Where the entire bow, when unstrung, abruptly collapsed away from the archer --- like a sprung bear trap --- into a compact, handy, semicircular conformation. But the MC bow is essentially a basic recurve layout. Rather than the much more complex, laminated, reflex recurve models. Nevertheless, it was never an easy task to affix a bowstring to any of these twisted, generally recurve format archery instruments. It always took strong arms to bend those circuitous recurve limbs way over in the opposite direction of their natural unstrung positions. And then you had to hold them there with one hand, against tremendous resistance. While your free hand, or a couple fingers thereon, attached the string to the tip of the unstrung limb. And this was normally done with support from at least one of your free legs. As a fulcrum-like pivot point or otherwise stabilizing foundation during the entire procedure. Not so easy to do! Let alone fifty thousand years ago. Despite any apparatus nor teamwork Neanderthals, or Homo sapiens, may have employed to accomplish this tedious recurve bow stringing operation. But then, Neanderthals in particular were no mere waifs of cave dwellers."
 
(13.) Neanderthal craniums and brains too were significantly larger than same of Homo sapiens of the time (Fig. 14). But Neanderthals were approximately five inches (12.7 cm) shorter overall than contemporary Homo sapiens. Neanderthal males averaged 65 inches (165.1 cm) tall; were heavily built, with robust bones and musculature (Fig. 15); and in most cases, probably markedly stronger than Homo sapiens. Female Neanderthals were solidly constructed too, and typically stood about 60 inches (152.4 cm).

(14.) The first tangible remains of a Neanderthal skeleton --- portions of a child's cranium --- were discovered in 1829 in the Belgium municipality of Engis by Philippe-Charles Schmerling. Schmerling was a Belgian prehistorian at the time of the find. Then in 1848 at Forbes' Quarry, Gibraltar, the first complete Neanderthal skull (female, c. 40-75K BP) accidentally surfaced. It was noticed by Royal Navy Captain, Edmund Flint, during construction of a British artillery battery. However, both of those early cranial finds occurred prior to the 1856 discovery of the first (high-quality) Neanderthal 'Type Specimen' fossils. I.e., multiple bones sorely needed for an unambiguous categorization of this superseded human species. The 1856 relics surfaced in a limestone mine in the town of Erkrath in Germany's Neanderthal (Neander Valley; Para. 11). The decisive Erkrath discovery occurred just three years before the 1859 publication of Darwin's watershed, On the Origin of Species. (NOTE: In 1864, the world's leading geologist, Charles Lyell, took the Gibraltar skull to an ailing Charles Darwin. In a letter to his close friend and advocate, botanist Joseph Hooker, Darwin described the famous Gibraltar [Forbes' Quarry] cranium as simply, "wonderful".)

IT APPEARS TO BE A RIVER CANYON, BUT LOOKS CAN BE VERY DECEIVING.  The most conservative explanation for Monterey Canyon (MC) is that garden-variety ocean currents, tides, storm surges, sea bottom slumps, and underwater landslides produced this striking seafloor construction. With occasional seismic assistance from earthquakes, no matter how negligible the temblors may be. Plus imperceptibly slow but steady rearrangements of the seafloor and continental shelf vis-à-vis the usual tectonic and fault lines activity over millions of years. Marching beneath the banner of simple Sediment Transport (ST), this popular MC theorem forgoes invocation of more revolutionary oceanographic hypotheses. Like unprecedented lower sea levels; extraordinary elevation of the seabed; or a catastrophic event for which there is no known geological corroboration. From the ST camp's cautious Earth history perspective, precipitous canyons traversing tremendous distances can be wrought completely underwater, as well as upon terra firma. And without involvement of terrestrial rivers, runoff, nor ice ages of any magnitude. But when the only available earthmoving equipment is submarine ST, it takes a lot longer to complete the installation within budget.

(15.) The pivotal 1856 Type Specimen fossils from Erkrath were christened Neanderthal 1 by scientists of the period. They comprised many more bones than the earlier finds. The Neanderthal 1 set included: a partial skullcap; two femora; three right arm bones; two left arm bones; left half of the ilium; and fragments of a scapula and ribs. The stone laborers who found the Erkrath bones mistook them for the remains of a bear. Nonetheless, they were astute enough to pass the relics along to Johann Carl Fuhlrott, an amateur German naturalist. Fuhlrott in turn presented them to German anatomist, Hermann Schaaffhausen, for a scholarly analysis. Schaaffhausen, who would coin the term Neanderthal 1, was the first to recognize such bones as priceless evolutionary heirlooms of a unique species of early humans. Finally, in 1857, the Pro-Am team of Schaaffhausen and Fuhlrott jointly published their groundbreaking Neanderthal 1 assemblage in the science chronicles of the time. The legend and mystique --- and salon/parlor jokes too --- of Neanderthal Man had officially begun.

(16.) Taken as a whole, the initial Neanderthal skeletal discoveries of the 19th century --- the 1829, 1848, and 1856 finds --- are now considered to herald the dawn of modern Paleoanthropology. Those perplexing relics precipitated the idea that such fossils were the remains of primitive, yet nonetheless ancestral Europeans. Who must have played an important role in the development of modern humans everywhere. So by the close of the 19th Century --- notwithstanding their physical extinction --- Neanderthals had been fully resurrected in the imaginations of Victorian Age Homo sapiens around the globe. The remains of over 400 Neanderthals have since been recovered across western and central Eurasia. And now there's a California 1 exhibit for inclusion in the expansive collection.

NEANDERTHALS' PLANET EARTH VISA EXPIRES
 
 LIKE THEIR COZY CALIFORNIA CAVE, DID THE RISING TIDE
OF HOMO SAPIENS DROWN THEIR CHANCES FOR SURVIVAL?
 
(17.) There are several hypotheses as to the eventual fate of the Neanderthals. The prevailing theory is that they were not as mentally nor physically competent as their Homo sapiens competitors. Who (allegedly) emigrated to Eurasia from Africa circa 90-125K years BP. In one vainglorious Homo sapiens diaspora of sorts towards, The Promised Land. I.e., the entire planet (see rival theory, para. 8). But instead of graciously trading and fraternizing with the indigenous Neanderthal citizenry. This conventional view concludes that the Homo sapiens homesteaders from Africa --- the first, 'Anatomically Modern Humans' --- somehow rudely eliminated them. Finally, the few remaining Neanderthals huddled in caves on Europe's Iberian Peninsula during the last ice age. And then vanished quietly around 28K years BP. End of story?

THE TIP OF THE MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY ICEBERG.  Only 15.5 miles (24.9 km) due west of Moss Landing marina, the Monterey Canyon (MC) Neanderthal cave lies beneath a surprising 456 ft. (139 m) of seawater. It is situated above a large depression in the MC's upper wall. When broached the question as to how the cave could have been above water 50K years BP --- when Earth's last ice age peaked only 12K years BP --- PSR's CEO, Curt Novolin, becomes indignant: "Who knows the answer to that one? At best, estimating sea levels tens of thousands of years into the past or the future will always be an educated guess. A computer algorithm, extrapolating some climatologist's or oceanographer's probability equations backwards, forwards, or sideways in time. Bottom line, no one could ever tell me that mankind had not set foot in the Western Hemisphere long before the Clovis Culture. And sooner or later, an H. erectus or Hominid bone will pop up over here too. No such evidence? It's underwater, H. knuckleheads. And now we have that evidence, and then some. No, we didn't expect to find a Neanderthal per se in Monterey Canyon. But he nonetheless serves to drive home my point. Early Man had nothing more fun to do during their spare time, holidays, and weekends off than stomp around this tiny planet. Just to see where their big, fat, Pleistocene feet would take them. This MC cave revelation is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Discoveries along continental shelves and seafloors will one day divulge unimaginable wonders about the global adventures of prehistoric Earthlings. And with looming satellite, aircraft, and ship borne remote sensing gadgetry. We will instantly pinpoint everything from the Loch Ness Monster, Ark of the Covenant, and crashed UFO's. To Amelia Earhart's plane, bones, and luggage --- not to trivialize the Earhart legend. A veritable HD imaging scan of every seabed, continental shelf, landmass, and waterbody too. Miles below the ocean floors and land surfaces, should you fancy. To a resolution of one square millimeter, and beyond. So much important stuff will be detected, it will take a thousand years to ever dig it all out. And the paradox is the further we go forward, the more we learn about our remote past."

(18.) Neanderthals are normally associated with crude stone tools only. While Homo sapiens supposedly crafted more sophisticated stone and bone devices. However, artifacts excavated during the 1970's and beyond from Vindija Cave near Varaždin, Croatia --- where the two primates coexisted for six K years --- represent both kinds of tools. Including a beveled bone, probably used as the tip of a spear. Such evidence runs counter to the generally accepted idea that Neanderthals could not produce implements from bone. Nor otherwise use the more sophisticated stone and bone paraphernalia of the period, no matter who engineered them.

(19.) Vindija Cave, noted above, has been for decades the principal source of Neanderthal skeletal remains and artifacts. Furthermore, since Neanderthals and Homo sapiens were longtime lessees thereof, the cave has fueled much speculation as to possible dating and fornication amongst the groups. Indeed, after recent comparisons of anatomical remnants of both clans from Vindija and elsewhere. Many researchers are now surmising that the two creatures must have 'fooled around' and, as such, successfully procreated hybridized offspring of some nationality.

(20.) In 2006, to hopefully settle the matter of Homo sapiens potential Neanderthal lineage, the Neanderthal Genome Project (Project) was established. The Project was coordinated by Germany's, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. And America's influential "454 Life Sciences" company, Branford, Connecticut. Utilizing fossilized bone specimens from Croatia (Vindija Cave), Spain, Russia, and Germany, the Project's ambitious goal was to sequence the entire Neanderthal genome. And then compare it to the DNA of representative Homo sapiens populations around the world today.

A SEA SERPENT OF COLOSSAL DIMENSIONS, AND UNKNOWN (GEOLOGICAL) SPECIES.  As the crow flies, Monterey Canyon (MC) extends about 95 miles (152.9 km) off the central coast of California, which is impressive enough as it is. But when measured along its entire twisting channel, it actually rambles over 300 miles (482.8 km) along the Pacific Ocean floor. PSR's Junior Staff Geologist, Julian Levemir: "The Monterey Canyon enigma can burrow deep within one's psyche. As deep as the Canyon itself. I'm obsessed with it. Get on Google Earth/Ocean, right over the Canyon. Zoom out, and keep zooming out. Yet the Canyon's track keeps going, and going, and going. I concur with my boss and mentor, Steve Keppra (Fig. 11). That at one time the MC was a large terrestrial river, hundreds of miles long. Our discoveries down there boldly underscore what I have always suspected about this colossal geological sea serpent. It harbors profound secrets. Not only about it's own origin and the global wanderings of early humans. But the ultimate nature and purpose of plate tectonics, ice ages, climate change, and water itself."

(21.) The Project published its results in the May 2010 issue of the American journal, Science. The Project determined, inter alia: (a.) The genomes of Neanderthals and present day humans are 99.7% identical. As compared to a (contested) 94-98.8% equivalence between Chimpanzees and same. (b.) About 1-4% of the Neanderthal genome persists today in the DNA of non-African humans (assumedly those elements unique to Neanderthals, otherwise the 1-4% figure makes no sense at all). (c.) But a finding that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred is not possible. Due to the small number of research samples; the corrupted DNA molecules found in all petrified anatomical specimens; and contamination of preparations with bacterial and Project workers' DNA. Moreover, genomics experts around the world soon published scathing indictments of the Project's essential assumptions, data, and findings. In light of those criticisms, the academic jury is still out on whether Neanderthals and Homo sapiens were ever guilty of sexual infidelity towards their respective chromosomes. (NOTE: When asked if a Neanderthal could be cloned today from genetic material like that used by the Project. The Project's Max Planck Division Chief, Svante Pääbo, observed: "Starting from the DNA extracted from a fossil, it is and will remain impossible.")

(22.) The earliest artistic re-creations of Neanderthals depicted inelegant, gorilla-like bipeds. Whom Victorian Era Europeans would not have invited into their parlors for tea and gay conversation. A 1909 Illustrated London News (News) portrayal of a probable Neanderthal bloke was based upon the 1908 articulation of a complete skeleton by French paleontologist, Marcellin Boule. The News painting (Fig. 16, center) revealed a hunched, furry troglodyte of questionable wit. But the latest museum exhibits (Fig. 17) unabashedly portray Neanderthals as no more simian in appearance than Homo sapiens own progenitors (e.g., Cro-Magnon) of that time. Indeed --- excluding their Stone Age costumes --- looking much like Homo sapiens urbanites on the streets of New York, London, and Paris today. Well, perhaps the seamier precincts thereof.

THEN WHOSE FAULT WAS IT?  The above illustration reveals that all fault lines near the central coast of California run at nearly right angles to Monterey Canyon's (MC) principal southwesterly orientation. Moreover, all of those fissures are sharply linear in aspect, while the MC's submarine channel is predominantly curvilinear along its entire route. So how could the MC's twisting seafloor pathway be the result of essentially straight cracks in the Earth's crust? Indeed, fractures which don't even lie anywhere near parallel to the MC's overall compass heading. PSR's Chief Geologist, Steve Keppra, believes he has the answer: "The MC complex cannot be explained with conventional theories thereof. Like typical fault lines movement, normal ice ages, underwater landslides, sediment transport, so on. The MC was likely produced less than five million years ago by a large river. But when sea levels were thousands of feet lower than today. Not just a few hundred feet lower. How was that accomplished? I propose by a regional elevation of the entire seabed along California. As a result, a substantial river then could have eroded the exposed sea bottom far beyond the previous margins of the California shoreline. However, unexplained levitation of the seafloor as the proximate cause of the MC is hardly a novel concept. Although scoffed at today, the notion goes back many decades. But if I'm wrong, then somebody must have pulled the plug on the ocean floor itself to clear the way for construction of Monterey Canyon."

(23.) In the semi-final analysis, it now appears that Neanderthals were at the very least yeomanly hunters. Who possessed effective kits of flaked-stone implements, with which they surely fashioned diverse wooden devices like spears (and occasional recurve bows). In the throws of a challenging ice age, they adapted well to the frigid climate and were adept at fire making and cooking. Plus reckoning from floral remains found in evidently deliberate burial sites. Neanderthal Man may have harbored a rudimentary belief in an afterlife too.
 
(24.) So whether through amiable cohabitation, interbreeding, and otherwise population absorption by Homo sapiens societies (Anatomically Modern Humans). Or vis-à-vis forced displacement and eventual physical extermination by same. The latest consensus on the demise of the Neanderthals is that it was a gradual, yet inevitable process. Probably over several thousand years, across a wide expanse of western Eurasia. And now, unexpectedly, the Western Hemisphere as well.

DURING EXTREME ICE AGES, WERE EARTH'S OCEANS AND SEAS REDUCED TO WADING POOLS?  Eons past, our planet's continents and waterbodies were periodically engulfed by unfathomable ice ages called Snowball Earth (SE). SE times often lasted several million years, especially during the Neoproterozoic Era of one billion to 500 million years BP. Many scientists now suspect that an SE event may have triggered the miraculous 'Cambrian Explosion'. Evolution's grand, global experiment with marine life forms, commencing circa 600 million years BP. The images along the bottom of Fig. 12 represent three different interpretations of how Earth might have appeared during the peak of an SE episode. But even at the height of Earth's most recent (average size) ice age, the volume of solidified water paled in comparison to a typical SE spell. During those outrageously frigid SE climates, Earth's continental shelves and seafloors could have protruded far above greatly lowered sea levels. As such, rivers may have flowed hundreds of miles out upon exposed ocean basins. Thereby sculpting deep valleys which, when the enormous ice sheets melted, would be concealed by the refilled oceans themselves. Did a severe ice age --- of much more recent geologic times --- create the Monterey Canyon edifice reaching far off California shores today (Fig. 13-A)?

MONTEREY SUBMARINE CANYON
 
A PROBLEMATICAL STUDY IN SEAFLOOR, CONTINENTAL SHELF, AND ICE AGE GEOLOGY.

(25.) As noted in Para. 4, Monterey Canyon (MC) begins at the central coast of California between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey (Fig. 9). The MC's deepest gorges do indeed plummet to two miles (3.2 km) and more below sea level. However, the MC's submerged plateau is never much greater than one mile (1.6 km) below same. Therefore, the MC's bottommost ravines --- when measured from its undersea plateau, not the water surface --- are of comparable depth to Arizona's Grand Canyon. Whose average basement is also one mile (1.6 km) lower than its own plateau, with one segment thereof plunging to 6,000 ft. (1,828.8 m). Overall, the MC is part of the greater Monterey Bay Canyon System, which encompasses the Monterey, Soquel, and Carmel Canyons.

(26.) One theorem as to its absolute geomorphology argues that the MC is a derivative of an ancient outlet of the Colorado River. A river delta that existed long before the Gulf of California finally opened to the Pacific Ocean about eight million years BP. Other scientists posit that the MC may represent the relic bed of a large river that once drained California's Central Valley. Perhaps by way of a precursor of today's Los Angeles Basin. Many geologists believe that over the past six to eight million years the MC has been displaced far northward. About 200 miles (321.9 km) from one of its supposed earlier positions near today's city of Santa Barbara, California. This hypothetical MC wanderlust is allegedly a result of leisurely movement along the San Andreas Fault (Fig. 11). Or the otherwise incidental interaction of the Pacific and North American Plates.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE, AND MARS WAS NO EXCEPTION --- OR IS IT A TOPOGRAPHICAL ILLUSION?  In 2006, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft finally achieved a close trajectory over the planet and began remotely examining its surface. Especially seeking evidence of water. The image at right shows what scientists believe are the remnants of gullies carved out by running water that once coursed down the steep walls of this large Martian impact crater. Compare the Mars photo to the one at left of the seafloor adjacent to California's (offshore) Monterey Canyon (MC). Focusing your attention upon the smaller yellow oval in the MC picture. Are those meandering (underwater) ravines the scars of terrestrial water? I.e., surface water that once flowed down a formerly exposed continental shelf and seabed off California? Or are there other, equally persuasive, scientific explanations for the entire MC region? And for the purported evidence of deep oceans and raging rivers on the surface of primeval planet Mars. Geological answers  --- for the MC and Mars too --- which do not require the erosive action of streaming water upon dry, elevated land (Fig. 8 & Para. 29).

(27.) Undersea canyons somewhat similar to the MC exist today near the mouths of large terrestrial rivers around the world. Like the familiar Hudson Canyon (para. 30) off the shores of New York and New Jersey (which appeared in 1953's, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms). But no substantial river lies at the head of the present MC. The definitive clues to the MC's inception may lie within a huge submarine deposit called the Monterey Fan (Fan). The sprawling Fan embraces nearly the entire MC complex, including its westernmost components far out to sea. But the Fan is clearly too wide, thick, and distant from land to have emerged from modern nor historical coastal rivers. Some geologists believe the Fan represents the accumulated sediment of a great river that once fed the MC directly from shore (e.g., Fig. 13-A). Research on the Fan is ongoing, including core sampling. But so far only geologically recent specimens have been obtained. The oldest Fan deposits lie deeply buried and, as such, remain to be penetrated and analyzed.

(28.) Many natural mechanisms, familiar to all geologists, have been suggested as culprits for unexplained underwater channels like the MC. Especially during the 1940's and 1950's, there was great debate upon the matter. An early popular candidate for the MC's origin was an ice age of average magnitude. During those mundane Earth glaciations, global sea levels were about 300-500 ft. (91.4-152.4 m) below today's heights. As such, rivers worldwide certainly could have flowed many miles out upon the moderately exposed continental shelves and seabeds. However, seafloor erosion by even large rivers would not have been mechanically possible at the incredible two mile (3.2 km) depths and extreme offshore distances of bewildering canyons like the MC. I.e., whatever actually manufactured the MC, it unashamedly cut down deeply. Right down into the abyssal ocean basin itself. Not just into the continental shelf and coastal sea bottom immediately adjacent to nascent California at that time.

BEHOLD YE THE BIRTH OF MONTEREY SUBMARINE CANYON --- THE LEVEMIR GREAT FLOOD THEORY.  It's a cold spring day, during the early Pliocene Epoch. The year is 4,490,697 BP. A single male Mastodon and a mated pair of evolving camels wander the greatly exposed continental shelf and seafloor off the future State of California. In the general vicinity of today's city of Monterey. As giant Teratorn birds --- ancestors of modern New World Vultures and Condors --- circle overhead. One sporting a wingspan of 28 ft., six inches (8.5 m, 15.2 cm). Massive tectonic activity has uplifted the ocean basin near California by 1.5 miles (2.4 km). Which has revealed the seabed to over 300 miles (482.8 km) west of the would-be Golden State's earlier shorelines. The climate has been cooling rapidly. An enormous, yet fragile ice dam --- seven miles (11.3 km) long and 3,000 ft. (914.4 m) high --- tenuously holds back the deep inland sea that has filled California's entire Central Valley to its mountainous brim. At precisely 12:00 noon (Pacific Standard Pliocene Time), a 1,000 ft. (304.8 m) high by 3,500 ft. (1,066.8 m) wide section of the dam suddenly collapses when a 7.4 temblor rocks the region. The Mastodon bull bellows and trumpets as a 600 ft. (182.9 m) high surge of water, earth, and ice skirts the foothills and races westward towards him (Fig. 13-A). Two hours later, an 8.9 quake levels the vast dam to its base along its entire length. Unleashing a 1,200 ft. (365.8 m) high juggernaut of hydraulic abrasion far out upon the elevated Pacific Ocean floor. The embryonic channels, gorges, and ravines of what humans would one day call Monterey Canyon (MC) are sculpted in less than 1,000 years. Mere geological speculation on a grand scale? Not according to Julian Levemir, PSR's Junior Staff Geologist. And proud promulgator of the controversial, Levemir Great Flood Theory of the MC's origin (depicted and outlined above). Levemir: "The mistake nearly all geologists make when contemplating Monterey Canyon is assuming that its principal components were assembled far south of its present coordinates off central California. Indeed, as far south as the Gulf of California. Before it even was a gulf. And that the entire project has since then inexorably crept northward on the back of the Pacific Plate over many millions of years. Wrong. The MC was designed, surveyed, and manufactured not that far from where it languishes today. Has it been moving? Yes, but not mainly northward. Primarily eastward. Relentless convergence and subduction into and under California and the North American Plate. Indeed, a major portion of the MC's original easternmost structures --- including its ancestral delta and major trenches --- has been recycled to the Mantle. With parts thereof tangentially twisted, crushed, dissolved, and reprocessed into California coastal mountains and/or foothills. That curious semi-elliptical contour of today's Monterey Bay shoreline --- not the submarine Canyon --- is the geological giveaway. It constitutes the crown on the head of the Pacific Plate battering ram. Which has been pounding the MC into California for about four million years. That's the hydrographic epiphany one must experience to begin deciphering the origin of Monterey Canyon. If not, you could be mired in sediment transport, turbidity flows, and ocean currents conjectures forever."

(29.) So if not produced by ordinary terrestrial rivers. Nor by typical ice age glaciers, sheets, and erosion. Then what other natural phenomena could have created what today appear as gaping river channels down to two miles (3.2 km) and more below the ocean surface? And so unreasonably far out to sea. The prevailing theory is that Sediment Transport (ST) alone formed those apparently inexplicable seabed canyons like the MC. This ST mechanism --- sometimes called Turbidity Flows (or Currents) --- is said to be triggered by routine earthquakes, underwater landslides, seafloor slumping, turbulent storm waters, tidal flows, and deep ocean currents. From the ST camp's orthodox standpoint, the depth to which canyons like the MC were etched depended upon: (a.) The density of the underlying continental shelf, tectonic plate, or otherwise seafloor and, therefore, how susceptible they were to being carved down. (b.) The weight and quantity of materials that were transported thereupon. (c.) Plus the frequency, speed, and duration of the ST process across the sea bottom in question.

(30.) Earth's oceans and seas harbor scores of underwater canyons. Some of which exceed Arizona's (above water) Grand Canyon in both length and depth. And as noted in para. 27, many of these V-shaped seabed trench systems are simply reasonable offshore extensions of significant terrestrial rivers. Examples of such river-extension canals include the Amazon, Congo, Ganges, Hudson, and Indus River submarine canyons. There is nothing unexplainable about such tracks along Earth's coastal seafloors and continental shelves. But is that really so? For example, the Hudson Canyon (HC) not only pummeled New England's sprawling continental shelf during the last ice age. It also deeply chiseled the floor of the Atlantic Ocean itself. Indeed, challenging the lowest chasms and surpassing the offshore distances of its west coast nemesis, the MC. Yet HC pundits profess that a paltry 400 ft. (121.9 m) or so of lower ice age sea levels was sufficient to generate the HC's deepest ancestral gorges, which remain today.

FACE-TO-FACE WITH A FUNDAMENTAL DECISION IN STRATEGIC EVOLUTIONARY PLANNING --- REGULAR VERSUS HEAVY-DUTY CONSTRUCTION.  As is readily apparent from Figs. 14 & 15, Neanderthals exhibited a more stout cranial and overall musculoskeletal workmanship than today's Homo sapiens. And the fossil record substantiates a similar variance between the two species when they were contemporary human beings. But with an average height supremacy of about five inches (12.7 cm), ice age Homo sapiens may have been more agile and fleet of foot. Which might have afforded them a Darwinian edge over Neanderthals vis-à-vis an enhanced capacity to: (a.) Flee, stalk, and overcome individual non-human predators, game animals, and Neanderthal competitors and opponents. (b.) More rapidly and effectively execute concerted battle tactics against large numbers of Neanderthal enemies during tribal warfare, species conflicts, and struggles for territorial dominion. (c.) Escape storms, floods, fires, pestilence, and other immediate or looming natural disasters and meteorological extremes. (d.) And successfully traverse great distances during seasonal, hunting, ritualistic, or exigent migratory journeys and pilgrimages. PSR's Anthropologist, George Westcort, on other possible disparities between the two Pleistocene primates: "Regardless as to actual level of functional intelligence, Neanderthals possessed substantially larger physical brains than Paleolithic H. sapiens. But if Neanderthals lacked an effective spoken language, then that factor alone could have caused their premature departure. Despite that bigger brain mass. That's assuming, of course, that H. sapiens developed and deployed a complex articulated dialect to their advantage during the Neanderthal proliferation. The first culture to perfect oral communication would have benefited tremendously with environmental coping. And thus long-term survival and achievement as a species. It would be the height of irony, if Neanderthals expired because they could not talk their way out of an inherent verbal deficiency within their own thick skulls. Personally, I don't believe Neanderthals could converse efficaciously at all. And it caused their demise. After all, spoken language was the sine qua non of early humans' cultural, technological, and otherwise evolutionary Great Leap Forward. Yet Neanderthals took a great leap backward --- to extinction. Notwithstanding those incredible artifacts from Monterey Canyon."

(31.) Now swiftly running water, all by itself, obviously sculpted every terrestrial river canyon and valley on Earth, with the occasional assistance of glaciers and ice sheets. Indeed, during any kind or duration of ice age, glacial grinding along frozen or dry river beds can of course deepen, widen, or extend those channels. Until the climate warms, the ice melts, and liquid water again flows upon the land. But regarding subsea canyons of any substantive dimensions. Ocean currents alone have been demonstrated to be much too slow --- typically one to two miles (1.6-3.2 km) per hour --- to dig down through even the softest of continental shelves nor seafloors. And frequently, such ocean current flow is in the wrong direction as well. Turbid streams of dense, muddy, abrasive seawater sometimes do occur. But they could not have formed the long, deep, branching patterns of prodigious seafloor networks like the MC, nor the HC off the Atlantic Seaboard.
 
(32.) A few rebellious geologists, like PSR's Steve Keppra (Fig. 11) and Julian Levemir (Fig. 13-A), contend anomalous canyons like the MC were produced far above water. When sea levels at the locale in question were as much as 1.5 miles (2.4 km) lower than today. Or conversely, when the seabeds thereunder were uplifted that much higher. Or perhaps an esoteric combination of both mechanisms. According to this proposal, major canyons that are now deeply submerged and far from land once harbored large rivers which fashioned cavernous channels that persevere today.

THE TALE OF THE TAPE.  On December 21, 90K years BP, 6:00 PM (Greenwich Mean Stone Age Time). At the weigh-in for the first, EURASIAN EARLY HUMANS UNIFIED CHAMPIONSHIP bout. Both Homo sapiens and Neanderthal appeared to be legitimate contenders for the Title. With his height, reach, and running speed superiority, Homo sapiens was confident of victory. But Neanderthal, with his sturdy skeleton and powerful musculature, boasted he would take down the upstart interloper from Africa in the later going. Now the rest is as they say, prehistory. But the shoddy records keeping of the time leaves Paleoanthropologists clueless as to the critical blow-by-blow reasons for Neanderthal's apparent evolutionary drubbing. Was it by an outright Paleolithic Knockout? Or a close Pleistocene Split Decision? In any event, at the ice age closing bell, the presiding officials --- Natural Selection, Blind Luck, and Divine Intervention --- at least afforded Neanderthal an Honorable Mention footnote in the, HUMAN GENOME HALL OF FAME (Para. 21).

(33.) For example, during the Neoproterozoic Era of one billion to 500 million years BP.  Several gargantuan ice ages called Snowball Earth (Fig. 12) occurred that were so frigid nearly all continents and oceans too were covered in massive ice sheets. During such times, sea levels could have descended to two miles (3.2 km) below today's heights. Leaving only the deepest ocean trenches and holes filled with liquid water or slush. And as the climate warmed, meltwater could have carved river channels far out upon the exposed ocean basins themselves.

(34.) At other times in Earth's past, a nearly landlocked sea --- which for ages was fed by a narrow ocean inlet --- became isolated as a result of gradual local tectonics. Or the sea was abruptly severed from the ocean by a calamitous event like a volcanic eruption, earthquake, or giant meteor impact. The Messinian Salinity Crisis (Crisis) is an example of this ocean detachment phenomenon. Between five and six million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea was separated from the Atlantic when its western ocean pipeline was pinched off. Most likely by crustal elevation at the Gibraltar Arc. Thereby causing the future maritime stage of Greek epics, Phoenician adventures, and Roman conquests to evaporate away in about a thousand years.

HOW ANY SELF-RESPECTING, CLUB AND STONE BRANDISHING CAVEMAN INDEED SHOULD HAVE LOOKED.  When Neanderthal relics surfaced during the 19th century, prominent artists were employed to flesh out the likely appearance of these erstwhile Eurasians. The rendering at center is based upon the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neanderthal fossils, unearthed in France in 1908. The first complete skeleton of the type ever excavated. The drawing was initially published in 1909 in France's L'Illustration. And a week later in England's Illustrated London News. It was done in the old school, representational style of art by --- of all unlikely masters --- Czech painter, František Kupka. One of the founding fathers of Orphic Cubism, and a pioneer in the Abstract Art movement. But there was nothing Cubist nor Abstract about this pedestrian image. Which was based upon the anatomical work of French paleontologist, Marcellin Boule, who had commissioned the picture. However, the La Chapelle-aux-Saints remnants were from a crippled and elderly Neanderthal, with a deformed framework caused by severe arthritis. So paleontologist Boule concluded that all Neanderthals were malformed, hunched over creatures. Therefore, (mostly Cubist & Abstract) painter Kupka portrayed them as such. At bottom left is German anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen's 1857 draft sketch of the probable owner of the historic Neanderthal 1 bones. The crucial 'Type Specimen' remains used for taxonomic classification of this new species of early humans. The Neanderthal 1 vestiges were found in 1856 in a limestone quarry in the German town of Erkrath, near Düsseldorf (Paras. 14-15). The illustration at far right was contracted for the 1965 book, Early Man. A tome penned by eminent American anthropologist, Francis Clark Howell. Howell's text was part of a popular Time-Life series of educational volumes entitled, Life Nature Library. And lastly, at top left is a display model (c. 1920) produced for Chicago's, Field Museum of Natural History. The Chicago exhibit was based upon a supposedly flawed interpretation of the best anatomical specimens of the time. But all of the reconstructions of the period, including the more carefully reasoned Chicago and Time-Life re-creations. Nevertheless depicted Neanderthals as either a hairy, no-necked, or otherwise rough-hewn species. Simple primates. Who never left their caves without a crude club in one hand. And a big rough stone in the other. Or what 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner, Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, & Steel), would certainly characterize as the essential, NEANDERTHAL FOUNDER PACKAGE.
 
(35.) During the Mediterranean Sea's prehistoric Crisis, the Nile River's primary channels, tributaries, and delta spread northward far beyond their previous margins. And the Nile and other rivers still supplied the Mediterranean region with plenty of fresh daily water. However, their combined influx was insufficient to fill the (former) Sea's barren, salty basin without assistance from the Atlantic Ocean at large. Then suddenly, by a cataclysmic event of indeterminate type. The tectonic damn that had plugged the Mediterranean's Atlantic conduit was totally annihilated. Unleashing a titanic tsunami on the order of 1,000 ft. (304.8 m) high --- the apocalyptic Zanclean Deluge. Which inundated and refilled the parched Mediterranean desert in just a few months. (NOTE: Some students of Bible scripture contend the Zanclean events may be the wellspring of the Great Flood legend in the Book of Genesis. However, only mankind's earliest primate predecessors could have borne firsthand witness to the Zanclean spectacle. Therefore, it is unlikely they somehow bequeathed to humans yet to evolve an archetypal recollection of that geologic wonder.)

(36.) As a consequence of the Mediterranean's ancient estrangement from the Atlantic Ocean, there exists today a Nile River undersea canyon. Which for decades went unexplained, like the persistently befuddling MC discussed herein. The physical evidence of the Crisis was discovered in 1970 during core sampling far out upon the Mediterranean seafloor by the research vessel, Glomar Challenger. The seabed samples removed therefrom revealed implausibly deep, thick, and wide salt deposits. Covered in turn by improbable layers of rocks, stones, and gravel. None of which had any legitimate geological business being there. The only justifiable explanation was continental and/or oceanic upheaval on a Biblical, Great Flood scale. Were the overwhelming events that finally resolved the Mediterranean Sea's prehistoric 'Crisis' similar to those that produced Monterey Canyon in the first place (Fig. 13-A)? And did they transpire during the same chapter in Earth's history?

WILL THE REAL NEANDERTHAL MAN, WOMAN, OR CHILD PLEASE STEP FORWARD?  Recently promoted to at least genomic in-laws of 21st Century Homo sapiens. It is now Paleolithically Incorrect to portray Neanderthals as hulking, cognitively truncated, ape-like cave tenants. So museums worldwide now imaginatively depict them as representing the entire spectrum of human facial, body, and (evidently) Personal Grooming types as well. Figures (D), (G), and (L) are museum statues of female Neanderthals. None of which appears to be enjoying the, Pleistocene Good Life. Sculpture (A) looks like a typical, red-faced, Tenderloin District wino/dumpster diver in any modern city in the USA. Chaps (E) and (J) have just been appraised that they are in truth Homo sapiens dudes. Adopted at birth by nonetheless loving Neanderthals. No Homo sapiens would like to have seen filthy, greasy, creepy Exhibit (I) lurking in the bushes as they jogged home from work along a chilly ice age trail. And item (K) of course is the official Neanderthal, The Thinker. Pondering his undocumented, prehistoric lot in life. Lastly, DNA from the bones upon which display (B) was based should be sequenced immediately. To ascertain if he just might be a direct ancestor of Genghis Khan himself. In light of these hokey museum exhibits. Several of which look cock-eyed, sweaty, and sporting cheap Ebay wigs from China (w/free shipping). Maybe the Neanderthal reconstructions of over a century ago weren't so far off the mark after all. Homo sapiens school kids of our time might have some 'Modern Stone Age Family' fun assigning a unique personality type --- and a quirky sob story too --- to each of these questionable re-creations. Or better yet, paint or sculpt their own versions of what the prototypical Neanderthal child, woman, or man really looked like.

(37.) PSR's Founder, CEO, and Chief Scientist, Curt Novolin, reflects upon the riddle of the MC: "If a river didn't sculpt it. And if ice ages didn't grind it out. And if tectonics, earthquakes, landslides, and dirty ocean currents weren't up to the task either. Then the vast, bottomless, Monterey Canyon is the result of geologic and/or marine mechanisms that have eluded the best minds of science. But with all of that said, the damn thing is still down there. And now it has conjured a Neanderthal's lovely skull. And his chic bow and knife. All to yet further confound its eternal mysteries."
 
 CONCLUSION
 
OR IS THIS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE ULTIMATE NEANDERTHAL LEGACY?

(38.) In concert with the latest anatomical, archaeological, and genomic evidence and findings from Eurasia. The Monterey Canyon discoveries described herein provide yet further compelling testimony for Neanderthal as a resourceful, creative, and otherwise reasonably intelligent primate species. If not quite fully accredited ANATOMICALLY MODERN HUMANS like we longtime initiated members, Homo sapiens.

(39.) Were the Neanderthals oppressed, persecuted, and finally extinguished by a Homo Sapiens culture hell-bent on Stone Age ethnic cleansing? Or did the two species and societies get along reasonably well? Silent fossils, artifacts, and cryptic genomes can tell us only so much about our prehistoric pedigree. Humankind of this balmy, interglacial Holocene Epoch --- i.e., 'Homo sapiens sapiens' (wise man squared?) --- may never know the complete story of the inscrutable NEANDERTHAL MAN.
 
 

CAN U.S. NAVY SUBMARINES 'RUN SILENT RUN DEEP' RIGHT BENEATH THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA?  As if the traditional geological questions about Monterey Canyon (MC) were not enough. Furthermore, rumors abound that spacious natural caverns and tunnels deep in the MC have been exploited by U.S. Navy submarines for many decades. As handy (Top Secret, of course) underwater sea lanes of sorts. Conveniently coupling the Navy's Pacific Fleet with its closely guarded Naval Undersea Warfare Center at distant Hawthorne, Nevada (pop. c. 3,200). Also at Hawthorne, the U.S. Army maintains an important Depot and Ammunition Plant. At which armaments are manufactured, tested, and stored on a large scale. The Hawthorne Navy and Army facilities are just six miles (9.7 km) south of Nevada's isolated Walker Lake. The Lake lies in the Great Basin of western Nevada, about 75 miles (120.7 km) southeast of the poor man's gambling mecca at Reno. Walker Lake is a natural reservoir, 18 miles (29 km) long and seven miles (11.3 km) wide. Fed by Walker River from the north, the Lake's maximum depth of 500 ft. (152.4 m) affords enough elbow room to maneuver a modern nuclear submarine. Walker Lake is a remnant of much bigger prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which covered nearly all of northwestern Nevada during the last ice age. The present Lake has no (publicized, that is) natural outlets, except daily ground absorption and aerial evaporation. This sizable water body is roughly 240 miles (386.2 km) northeast of the MC's deeper trenches. An interesting website --- AboveTopSecret (ATS) --- investigated purported MC-Walker Lake connections. ATS quotes former Navy personnel who claim to have been aboard U.S. subs as they explored ocean-filled grottos far eastward of California shorelines. One retired sub commander relates that the so-called San Andreas Fault (SAF) is a geological hoax, perpetrated by the U.S. government. Not a genuine fissure in the Earth's crust, the SAF is actually a maze of water-filled cavities beneath the seabed off California and miles under the State itself. Portions of which periodically collapse, thereby generating the seismic activity which frequents the SAF region. To its credit, ATS also posts the opposing camps' skeptical positions on these provocative MC, Walker Lake, and U.S. Navy matters. So with its perplexing dimensions, depth, and potential origins; its momentous Neanderthal cave find of 2011; and its intriguing Walker Lake and Navy submarines allegations. Perhaps a Hollywood blockbuster movie --- incorporating all of the MC's mysteries and melodramas --- might make Jurassic Park, Jaws, Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea all pale in comparison. (End of Figures)
 
(40.) Marine Archaeologist, Anthony Renvela, has PSR's final word: "If a scientist or layperson is seeking the bones and stuff of early humans, of any stripe. And wants to know the best place to start looking. Simply locate any ancient, untouched, spooky cave. Above water, or underwater. Go in there, start digging and don't stop. And you will likely unveil the missing link herself, or himself. Along with all of their favorite Paleolithic playthings. What Mission Control was for NASA's early space programs. That's precisely what a deep, dark, cozy cave was for early man --- Homo erectus, Homo sapiens, Neanderthals alike. Once set up in there, isolated and protected. Some with paint brush and torch in hand, rock walls as their canvas. They could be overcome by a sense that it was now they alone who ruled the world and the heavens. And all of the beasts and spirits therein."

(41.) And whether the Neanderthal proprietor of the Monterey Canyon cave produced that smart recurve bow and stylish flint dagger all by himself. Or got them from a Homo sapiens acquaintance, friend, or even an enemy. Nevertheless, with both property rights and archaeological provenance, POSSESSION is nine-tenths of the law. (End)              
 
*** JAMES F. LIALDA ***