Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Guys Don't Ask For Directions

Cave of the Winds National Park

In Hot Springs, South Dakota they are excavating mammoth remains. They are down about 20 feet and so far they've found 56 skeletons. An underground cave collapsed here 27,000 years ago. A sinkhole formed and an artesian warm spring made a slippery trap for wooly and Colombian mammoths. All 56 of the mammoths so far have been young males. Like elephants, mammoths are thought to have had matriarchal societies. These young, inexperienced boys died of starvation or exhaustion after the old girls kicked them out. They died in a trap that lasted about 700 years.

The mammoths died out when a clever little bipedal animal came over the Siberian land bridge and used stone lances to hunt them to extinction. Without people, the mammoths ranged North America for about 200 million years. My first SCUBA dive in 1964 was a search for mastodon and mammoth teeth in the muddy St. Marks river in Florida. The numerous Florida sinkholes lead to underground caverns full of mammoth bones. Flat feet are not ideal for climbing out of water hazards.

The Cave of The Winds National Park is more interesting above ground than below. The park supports a number of pronghorn antelope, buffalo and prairie dogs. The combination of prarie grass and forest is lovely.

The Cave of the Winds has an interesting and unique feature called "boxworks". 95% of the known boxworks in the world are in this cave. Boxworks have no known economic value. So far these caves have 128.47 miles of explored features. There are none of the usual stalagmites, stalagtites or soda straws...only these strange and fragile boxlike features...A young boy named Kyle finds a snake in the grass outside the cave entrance...the natural entrance sucks in or discharges air depending on the air pressure changes that occur outside...The Winds blow in the entrance..a young man named MacDonald explored miles of the cave in the late 1800s with candles and string. This site was named as the 8th National Park by President Theodore was thought to be an ideal area for the nearly extinct buffalo to recover.

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