Caveman Digest – WIF Ancient History

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Theories About

Why the

Neanderthals

Died Out

Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis… or, humans and Neanderthals… started to diverge from a common ancestor, Homo erectus, about 700,000 years ago. Then our species completely branched off about 300,000 years ago.

On average, Neanderthals were shorter than humans and they had a stockier build. They also had angled cheekbones, prominent brow ridges, and wide noses. Like humans, they used tools, controlled fire, and buried their dead. Also, while they are often depicted as dumb, savage brutes, researchers believe they were as intelligent as humans.

They lived in Eurasia, from about Spain to western Siberia, and while the date of their extinction is debated, it’s believed that they died out somewhere between 30,000 to 42,000 years ago. Why they went extinct is one of the biggest mysteries in evolutionary science. So why did our ancestral cousins die out?

10. We Were Better Hunters

The Neanderthals went extinct not long after humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia. Since the Neanderthals ruled Europe for so long before the arrival of humans, and suddenly died off after coming into contact with them, it has led researchers to believe that humans were somehow responsible, at least in part, for the extinction.

One theory as to how humans drove Neanderthals to extinction was because we were better hunters. This became a problem because, with only a limited amount of food, there would have been competition for it. Since we’re here and they aren’t, it would suggest that we were better hunters and got most of the food. This would have caused the Neanderthal population to plummet, while the human population would have gone up.

9. Humans Violently Replaced Them

Throughout history, groups of humans have had a tendency to kill, enslave, or conquer other groups of people who are different from them. Why would prehistoric humans be any different when they came into contact with the Neanderthals?

When humans migrated out of Africa, they may have been more aggressive and more violent than the Neanderthals because that was advantageous to their hunting style. Meanwhile, it’s believed that the Neanderthals were less violent because they didn’t hunt in the same way. Instead of hunting and chasing down big animals, to get their protein they ate insects.

If they were more peaceful by nature, the Neanderthals would have been unable to fight off the growing population of violent human brutes who invaded their territory.

8. Volcanic Eruption

An event that can have profound effects on the Earth is the eruption of a large volcano. When a volcano erupts, millions of cubic tons of ash and debris can be put into the atmosphere and this alters the climate of the Earth by making it cooler, because less sun reaches the Earth.

Well 39,000 years ago, around the same time that the Neanderthals started to go extinct, the Campi Flegrei volcano west of Naples, Italy had a massive eruption. It was the biggest eruption in Europe in 200,000 years and 60 cubic miles of ash was pumped into the atmosphere.

This would have had devastating effects on the Neanderthals. The sun would have been blotted out for months, if not years. This would have cooled temperatures in Europe and it would have brought acid rain. These types of conditions would have made the environment inhospitable to the Neanderthals, causing them to die out. As the ash dispersed and the Neanderthals were dying off, humans would have moved into Europe with little resistance.

7. Humans Hunted With Wolves

Around the time that the Neanderthals went extinct, there were three top predators competing for food in Europe: the Neanderthals, humans, and wolves. According to anthropologist Pat Shipman of Pennsylvania State University an alliance between the wolves and the humans led to the extinction of the Neanderthals. His theory is that humans were able to tame and breed wolves. These wolf-dogs would have been used to get large animals, like mammoths, cornered so humans could finish them off. Cornering the animal was the most dangerous part of the hunt.

Also, when humans would bring down the animals and started to cut it apart, they would had to fight off scavengers, but the wolves would have been able sense scavengers from longer distances and they would have scared them off. Then the humans would feed the wolves and this would have been a win-win situation for the two top predators.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the Neanderthals used wolves to hunt. Without their help, prey would have been more dangerous to hunt and they would have to exert more energy while hunting, meaning they needed more food to sustain themselves. This would have made it hard for the Neanderthal population to maintain and grow their population, especially when two of their competitors teamed up to fight for the same resources that they needed.

6. Humans Had More Culture

According to a mathematical model from Stanford University, the reason that humans are still around and the Neanderthals aren’t is that humans had a high level of culture. By having a stronger culture, they would have been able to hunt and gather food over a larger area than the Neanderthals. This culture would have also led to better tool-making skills, which would allow them to make better weapons. For example, an ax would have been an incredibly useful tool and a devastating weapon.

According to their model, a small population of humans with a high level of culture could have overwhelmed a large population of Neanderthals who were less cultured.

5. The Division of Labor

The Neanderthals didn’t have the most complex diet. They were known to hunt big game animals, which was a dangerous task. They also hunted differently than humans. Neanderthal men, women, and juveniles would get involved with the hunt. Humans, on the other hand, developed tasks based on gender and age. This division of labor allowed them to collect a variety of different foods, and then they could process and cook it.

Being able to eat a variety of cooked food would have given humans an evolutionary edge in two ways. The first is that there would been more sources for food. Secondly, the more complex diet of cooked food not only allowed humans to survive, but it also helped in the evolution of the human brain and helped make it what it is today.

4. Neanderthals Had Smaller Frontal Lobes

One of the prevailing misconceptions surrounding the Neanderthals is that we were smarter than them. However, researchers believe their brains were just as big as humans’, but they were built differently. Neanderthal brains were designed to control their large bodies and to track movement. Humans had larger frontal lobes, which is the region of the brain where decision-making, social behavior, creativity, and abstract thought are controlled. In the long run, these qualities probably gave us an evolutionary edge compared the Neanderthals.

For example, by using abstract thought, humans realized that by processing food, like smashing up cooked yams, it would have saved energy during the eating process because you need less energy to chew your food. This is especially important when raising children. Secondly, the frontal lobe would have been helpful in spreading new technology quickly. With a larger frontal lobe it would have been easier for humans to teach each other, and to learn. Also, thanks to the large frontal lobe, early humans saw the benefit in forming large social groups, and these large groups would have made technology easier to spread across the species.

By saving energy on everyday tasks like eating, and utilizing technology, it would have given us an evolutionary edge that allowed us to survive while the Neanderthals went extinct.

3. The Weather Change Changed Their Habitat

An argument against the replacement theory is that humans had nothing to do with the extinction of the Neanderthals. After all, humans first left Africa about 100,000 years ago and moved into the Middle East, and then about 60,000 years ago they made it to Australia. However, humans only migrated into Europe, the Neanderthal’s homeland, 45,000 years ago. The question is, why did humans travel all the way down to Australia before getting to Europe, which is essentially around the corner from the Middle East? This suggests that humans may have only been able to move in when the Neanderthals were already dying off.

So why were they dying off? Well, drastic weather change could have been the culprit. When the Neanderthals went extinct, the last Ice Age was coming to an end and Eurasia was experiencing unstable weather patterns which dramatically changed the landscape. For example, in Italy around the time the Neanderthals went extinct, forests morphed into open plains over the span of 100 years. The Neanderthal body simply couldn’t evolve fast enough to survive in the new landscape.

The problem was that the Neanderthals hunted in the forest. They used the trees as cover and then they clubbed or stabbed prey. Their bodies simply weren’t built to sneak up on fast moving and dangerous game animals in the newly developed open plains.

Humans, on the other hand, were used to grasslands and open fields because that was the terrain in Africa where humans evolved and strived. With the Neanderthal population dwindling and the landscape becoming advantageous to humans’ skills, our ancestors simply moved into the area.

2. Disease Wiped Them Out

Why the Neanderthals lived for tens of thousands of years in Eurasia, but died out about 1,000 to 5,000 years after coming into contact with humans, is one of the most debated topics in anthropology. The obvious conclusion is that humans had something to do with the extinction, but no one is sure how or why humans caused it.

One theory is that when the Neanderthals moved out of Africa and settled in Eurasia, their immune system developed to deal with that environment. However, when humans migrated out of Africa, they brought African pathogens with them and these caused diseases like tuberculosis, herpes, tapeworms, and stomach ulcers. The Neanderthals’ immune systems simply couldn’t deal with the diseases and they went extinct. Yes, you read that right. Humans gave the Neanderthals herpes and it killed them.

Evidence to back this up is that this is what happened when Europeans came to the Americas starting in 1492. When they came, they brought diseases like smallpox and malaria, and this was devastating to people in the Americas. Since the Native Americans’ immune systems weren’t developed to combat the diseases, it’s estimated that 20 million Native Americans were killed in the years following contact with the Europeans, which was nearly 95 percent of the population in the Americas.

1. They Assimilated With Humans

One theory surrounding the fate of the Neanderthals is that there was no death blow. They simply assimilated with humans by interbreeding. For any of the reasons listed in the other entries on this list, or quite possibly because of a combination of them, the population of Neanderthals became drastically low. However, instead of all of them dying off, the species was just absorbed by the much bigger human population.

Evidence to back this up is that if you were born outside of Africa, 1.5 to 2.1 percent of your DNA is Neanderthal in origin. However, what’s interesting is that it isn’t the same genes in everyone. For example, if you have 2% Neanderthal DNA and your next door neighbor has 2% Neanderthal DNA, you may not share the same 2%. Researchers think that 20 percent of the Neanderthal genome is still found within humans. So they never exactly went extinct; instead, their DNA just became part of the modern human genome.


Caveman Digest –

WIF Ancient History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 143

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THE RETURN TRIP– Episode 143

…I miss Earth as much as you, but we cannot allow it to disrupt our survival and seeing Braden is definitely a case of Desert Mirage Syndrome…

Desert Mirage by SoolArt deviantart.com

“Braden!” Celeste’s reference to the guardian of her children and dearest of friends is way out of context in relation to what she and Sampson were discussing, over yet another strange meal provided by the “Infinity Kitchen” of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, permanently parked on the Martian surface.

Sampson finishes swallowing the pleasant tasting orange substance he was eating to address her disjointed alluding to their friend, “What does King have to do with learning how to fly this thing.” He is itching to unravel the procedure connected to the actual engine start-up & driving of this alien contraption.

“Nothing Sam, I guess I am getting homesick.”

“Getting? So am I… so was E.T.”

“Well okay, got it bad, thinking about the kids, when I saw Braden’s face. He looked worried, like he was trying to tell me something.”

That is definitely a case of Desert Mirage Syndrome. I miss Earth as much as you, but we cannot allow it to disrupt our survival. We must keep our best wits about us!”

“Of course we do and I often fight off the homesickness, but this is different. For a moment, I would swear that he was trying to tell me something; no Deke, Gus or peanut butter cups, just Braden with a message.”

“And no Baby? Hhmmm, this must be serious.” Sampson is understandably concerned with the mental well-being of his wife, especially as it applies to her pregnancy. This imposed isolation is playing mind games with them and it is a constant struggle to repel imbalanced thoughts; and without an OB/GYN, her dietary needs may or may not being met.

“If you are worried that I am teetering on the brink, forget about it, I am fine. I am merely astonished by the clarity of the vision. He WAS trying to tell me something.”

“Does this mean I can’t commit you to that rubber-lined room, the one we haven’t figured out its purpose?”

“Your 25 credits in Psyche 101 do not cut it here, oh and by the way, your title as Commander is hereby revoked. We are on an alien spaceship and you cannot make anything work around here without my help.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 143


page 135

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

…It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both helicopters; fire and oil are a dangerous mix…

Oil rig fire distortion by Adam Miller

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy the square shooter from South Texas?

It turns out that the bad guys saw that Coast Guard boat bounding through the waves a few miles north. The men who pour out the slide-by doors don’t look anything like polished military men, perhaps the pilots were but not these guys. There are two blindfolded individuals being prodded to the leeward column ladder, likely for a quick transfer. But by the time the awkward exchange can take place, the Monsoon steams onto the scene, all the while firing warning shots and smoke capsules at the sea surrounding the rig.

All that unexpected action a few hundred feet below causes the scampering swarm to reverse their direction back to the helicopter. They may have had what they thought was solid plan, but they were just running out of time. So back on the helicopter they go, piling in in a big-time hurry, except that one of their detainees bolts, running as fast as he can for the derrick and finding good cover there among the pile of eight inch pipes. That bolting delays the whole process.

Roy Crippen has seen enough to know that it is Gus McKinney who broke free and it is Deke about to be spirited away. He drops his chopper down to about thirty feet above the Russian built military machine, blocking their exit. It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both machines; fire and oil are a dangerous mix.

By that time, fifteen Coast Guard infantry have gained the deck and bring the situation into reasonable control. With guns down and arms held high the entire force of kidnappers is laid low.

Slippery Gus storms out to hug his brother who claims, “You kept us on the ground Gus, way to go!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Disney’s BOLT

Episode 127


page 121

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 76

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 76

female-astronaut-001

meanwhile-caption-001Sampson McKinney becomes the first Earthling, to board a spacecraft from another solar system. There have been other claims, by upstanding citizens everywhere from deputy sheriffs to bank presidents, who claim to have been abducted by aliens, but no one takes those people seriously, much like the folks that have been to heaven and back.

There have also been faint rumors, on the Q.T. of course, that NASA and particularly the Air Force intentionally discounting any account of alien contact or UFO sightings. Sampson has heard these intriguing stories, from Area 51 to the possessed African tribesmen, and finds it terribly ironic that he and Celeste are now in the position of having to prove, what can only be described as the greatest discovery of mankind since Galileo deemed the Sun as the center of the solar system, or at least the microprocessor.

So here in this “alleged” alien spacecraft {are they sure it isn’t Russian?} there is no denyingInside Newfoundler what he is seeing and bravely breathing. It is a calculated risk to ignore the distinct possibility that there is something about the native Martian air is fatally contaminated. But what do they have to lose, after all, had not most every cancer been conquered? Likewise, on the brink of this new world, can they afford to be timid?

“It sure is warm in here.” He planned on waiting several minutes before allowing his bride to remove her helmet, just in case, but she wasn’t about to get stuck here all alone so hers is already unlatched.

“This is incredible Sam, do you know what this means?”

Might she be referring to the seemingly endless supply of breathable air, as opposed to Tycho’s finite resources?

“If you thinking what I think you are, we still need to eat and drink.”

“I know that, you Celtic lout! Hell, we should be exploring this joint instead of holding our hats in our hands……..” she fails to complete the rant.

“Celeste!” He rushes to his wife, who dropped like a Mars rock onto the unyielding glossy deck, without outward signs or warning.


THE RETURN TRIP

my-project-23-001

Episode 76


page 71

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 66

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 66

We all knew, deep in our souls, that something like this could happen and yet here we are behind the 8-ball….

8-ball

Tell My Troubles to the 8 Ball by Martin Wong

meanwhile-caption-001“T-minus 2.75 hours and counting folks, the nuke propulsion is coming on line for the first time and all systems are go,” the intercom is buzzing with exciting news of stretching out the new souped-up engines, leaving only crew concerns and ground fog from getting the New Mayflower on its way.

Roy Crippen is in full-pace-space-mode. With both midnight and an untimely early-season tropical system moving north out the Gulf of the Americas getting closer, his nerves are starting to show. It is one hell of a time to test a new launch method. It is quite another risking more lives on the enhanced propulsion, even though NASA’s chief engineer has been perfecting things for 2 years, when perfection is impossible.

“If it is the last thing I do in NASA, Karl, I will see us into full-blown SOL technology,” speaking to Karl the engineer. “We do not belong in space if it takes two months to travel 100 million lousy miles.”

“There was no way we could foresee this accident,” insists the aging veteran of metals and motion.

“If it is an accident at all… don’t ask, I’ll tell you later” Some stories have no abridged versions. “We all knew, deep in our souls, that something like this could happen and yet here we are behind the 8-ball.” Roy draws a deep breath to continue, “And we have our two best people out there, having stuck out their necks farther than giraffe on stilts, confident that they would be safe…safe……safe my ass and living in a lander that is not designed for a sleepover, let alone 2 f***ing months.”

“Haven’t you risked your life for the space program? And how about the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts, didn’t they stick their necks out? Remember the two Shuttle accidents?”

“And Fred Cabell and Phil Jansky… shit… and all we can do is wait & see what happens next. I was hired to do a job and I am back here scrambling…”

“Please do not succumb to the ‘it should have been me’ syndrome. Somebody once said, I think it was Herbert Hoover, ‘The older men start the wars that are fought by the young’, you get what I am saying Roy.” Old Karl speaks through a heart of experience, a reliable ticker that has been broken before, only to mend and go on.


THE RETURN TRIP

conqueringthesunsempire17

Conquering the Sun’s Empire by Harry Lange

Episode 66


page 61

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

…No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner…

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

meanwhile-caption-001In the moments following that breathtaking {not in a good way} flash of light high above the Martian atmosphere, several seconds elapsed before the ominous explosion could be felt. It was as thunderous as any blastoff of an old Atlas rocket.

Image result for tree blowing in wind

Tree Blowing In The Wind by Janell R Colburn

If the cornea singeing light and the eardrum piercing sound were not enough, the shock wave that swept down to the surface got Tycho to rockin’ as if it were a 150 yr. old oak tree in a tornado. Sampson had all he could handle in stabilizing the lander during the 20 second maelstrom.

Even after these unpredictable twist and turns, light and darks, the real scope of their predicament does not sink in until after the dust settles. It is Celeste who verbalizes the obvious, My dear God Sam, we are castaways!”

During those ensuing minutes, Sampson was giving pause to that very topic. “Yeah shit happens,” he is ultimately logical and is sifting through the best path to survival. “We can’t leave the surface, we’d waste fuel, we cannot produce enough gain to get a decent signal out past Deimos and we have to conserve oxygen for life-support.; other than that we’ve got it made.”

No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner.” He assembles movie humor in the face of unspeakable despair.

“Ancient pop culture will not help our options… which are?”

“If I know Crip, he has the Mayflower on the pad, ready to go and if he is on top of things, he will give that buggy a boost… I left him with some propulsion improvements to work on, while we were out here in the peace of deep space.”

“How long do we have and when can they get here?”

“We should be able to hold out for a month or two. Fortunately we grabbed that extra fuel and food meant for those amateur lab-rats… I mean colonists of Mars City. I believe the New Mayflower can get here days before we have to go out and forage for food. And surprisingly, we can manufacture enough water and oxygen with what we have to work with outside our door.”martianpotatoes

“I knew I should have packed more Mark Watney Potatoes for a longer stay.”

“The way down was slick, it’s the return trip that will be the bitch.”

Humor is a self-defense mechanism.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 60


page 57

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 56

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 56

..I am about to break into local programming and then that damned “good” angel has to go and whisper in my right ear…

angel-in-my-ear

“What exactly do you think you know about Space Colony, Ms. Bouchette and do not beat around the bush,”asks Roy Crippen

She goes on to play the foreign recorded voice of the bearer of bad tidings.

“I will be frank {don’t call him Frank}, I am about to break into local programming with a KHST Special Report, having spent most of the afternoon putting together — then that damned “good” angel has to go and whisper in my right earShe summarizes the just of her breaking news.

“I see and you plan to act on this leak,” Roy speaks rhetorically. “At this point I could stonewall you; deny and deny again, but I will not. Whoever this guy is knows more than enough to be taken seriously.”

He chooses his words carefully.

“Even though much of what you offer is true, I think you are taking too pessimistic of a slant. We or you or your informer, nobody in fact can confirm the loss of life. The McKinneys are presently on the surface of Mars, and yes we cannot communicate with them, but we are launching the New Mayflower in 6 hours and we believe we can reach them in time.”survival-001

“Are you telling me that they can survive on Mars?”

“Not only do we think they will survive, we hold the hope of rebooting the Space Colony consortium with a second station. We are in this thing to win; titanium and wires can be replaced, but not the hope of all civilizations.”

Francine is truly moved by his inspiring affirmation, but does not swallow it whole.

“I respect that fact that you want to control the message, I get that, but I have a career duty to report the news, whatever and especially the magnitude of this; America and all your partners need to know.”

“I get that Ms. Bouchette, you have a virtual goldmine in your grasp,” Roy relents, “but you will be quoting me, using my words, NOT some ¼ hour funeral dirge about the space program and the McKinneys.”

“Are you telling me that I have an exclusive?”Related image

“I suppose it does. This wasn’t how I envisioned it coming down, but I don’t want those crackpot Koreans stealing the spotlight. I will forward my statement to you.”

Francine has just lost a huge juicy story, yet she does regain another somewhat less salacious one and she will be a better person for it. After two decades in the business, she has had an epiphany of conscience.

“I appreciate how much you agonized over this. I am not sure some of your competition would have had your self-restraint.new-mayflower-001

Now I have to send off the New Mayflower, minus the 30-some hopefuls {some paid their own way} that were scheduled to go… boy am I going to catch flack about that, I can hear them already.”

“Thank you for allowing KHST to break this story,” she is sincere and do you notice it was not all about “me”? “Please bring the McKinneys home!”


THE RETURN TRIP

special-report-001

Episode 56


page 53 (end Ch. 2)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

…A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples. He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past it…

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe,” The Sheikh is impatient.

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses,” Afridi is confused.

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.

World Space Consortium

World Space Consortium

“You want access to the manual dump mode for the laser control!?” Trepidation replaces restlessness for Afridi. If all this is about sabotaging the World Space Consortium, of which Talibanistan and the United Korea Peninsula are not a part, he wants no part of any such strategy. To him personally, Space Colony 1 is to be exalted, not grudged with bad intent. The Sheikh and Nae Tan-Dan must be forgetting that the person they are asking to betray the World had expressly expressed interest in participating in the project they wish to destroy. “I have to get some air, to help me remember the code.”

“If you must Afridi, but you must be quick about it. Tan-Dan must leave for his country as soon as possible.”

Afridi is stalling, “I have too many passcodes in my brain, please excuse me.”

It is way past late at night, technically morning on this side of the planet and the men in the car are becoming annoyed with the delay. They go on conspiring with their mischievous machinations when Afridi toddles off to wrestle with his wits, albeit to contemplate a rueful ruse.

A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples… He knew the codes by heart… But his thoughts are dominated by his dearest Fatima and his two little girls… He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past the Moon…

Adrenaline begins to spike into his bloodstream. For the first time in 15 years, rebellion not submission, takes hold of his spirit. He is 15 meters from the chilly stream when he decides to sprint toward the water, the soles of his shoes digging furiously into the loose gravel, spitting out pebbles with every determined stride. But for all his physical fitness he dreads the temperature of the chilly water ahead.

He thinks about stopping short, giving one last glance over his shoulder, only to see that his sudden bolt had not gone unnoticed. Fortunately for him, there are no high-powered military weapons in the hands of his pursuers; who would think that a mild-mannered scientist would “go over the wall”, with Talibanistan’s most powerful Sheikh a stone’s throw away.

That element of surprise would be his only ally this evening. Once he dives into the river,Image result for bullets and water swimming as fast as his clothed body would allow, gunfire from the lone small caliber handgun poke holes in the liquid swirling around him. The gun owner is a pretty fair marksman, prompting Afridi to assess his best option, which happens to be a ferryboat which is docked on the far bank of the river.

Things are not looking so good at the moment, yet it would get worse when one bullet grazed his left arm. Temporarily stunned, he snatches safety from the jaws of peril. He rolls over to play dead, realistically sinking slowly under the red water and the belly of the powered passenger boat… which he remembers as having a hollowed-out section to the aft that houses the propeller.

AIR!


  THE RETURN TRIP

mastermind-001

Episode 14


page 13 (end ch. 1)

Now You See Them, Then You Don’t – WIF Mystery

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Unsolved Mass

Disappearing Acts

Missing persons cases can be difficult to crack. However, most people go missing one at at time. In the 10 cases below, multiple people disappeared at the same time. While there are some clues about how these people went missing, none of these cases have ever been fully unraveled.

Now you see them, then you don’t.

10. The Village at Lake Anjikuni

This one comes in at the bottom of our list because there is some doubt about whether there ever was a village at Lake Anjikuni, in Canada’s northern Nunavut region. As the story, which was first published in the Danville Bee in 1930, goes, fur trapper Joe Labelle returned to a remote Inuit village of about 25 people he had visited previously, only to discover that everyone was missing. The tents and villagers’ belongings were still there, but there was no sign of the inhabitants. According to this news account, Labelle reported, “The whole thing looked as if it had been left that way by people who expected to come back. But they hadn’t come back.” He also noticed signs that ancestral graves had been disturbed. While there were dog skeletons in the village, he could find no sign of human corpses.

However, there are some reasons to doubt this story, which entered the popular imagination when it appeared in Frank Edward’s 1959 book, Stranger than Science. When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated the case in 1931, they determined “there is no evidence … to support such a story,” noting that a village of that size wouldn’t have feasibly existed in such a remote location and that local officers, trappers, and missionaries had reported nothing out of the ordinary.

9. The Sodder Children

When George and Jennie Sodder went to bed on Christmas Eve 1945, 9 of their 10 children were at home (the 10th was serving in the military). By the following morning, the Sodder house was burned to the ground. George, Jennie, and four of the children made it out. However, the other five children, who ranged in age from 5 to 14, were never seen again. Initially, everyone, including the surviving members of the Sodder family, assumed the children must have perished in the fire, despite their father’s desperate attempts to rescue them. Because it was Christmas Day, the fire marshal postponed a thorough inspection of the site, which was basically a basement full of ashes at that point. A few days later, George Sodder bulldozed several feet of dirt over the remains of his home, planting flowers there in memory of the family’s lost children.

As time went on, more details emerged that cast doubt on whether the five missing Sodder children had actually died in the fire. The family remembered some odd events around that time, meaningless in isolation, but suspicious in concert. Jennie had been awakened earlier in the night by a noise that sounded like something hitting the roof and the family had received what they thought was an odd prank phone call just after midnight the night of the fire. Additionally, a ladder had been moved from its storage area near the house to more than 75 feet away, hindering George’s attempts to reach his children’s upstairs bedrooms to rescue them. In another strange twist, the bones of the missing children were never recovered, despite the fact that the fire did not appear to have burned long enough or hot enough to destroy human bone.

The Sodders never stopped looking for their missing children, offering a reward for information, erecting a billboard near their house and hiring private detectives to follow up on reports of sightings, including a photo—of a young man bearing a striking resemblance to one of the missing children– which was mailed to the Sodders. Some suggested that the children could have been kidnapped in retaliation for negative remarks George Sodder, an Italian immigrant, had made about Mussolini or that the mafia could have been involved. Despite the many theories that emerged, no conclusive evidence of what ultimately happened to the five Sodder children has ever been found.

8. The Yemenite Children Affair

Following Israel’s founding in 1948, the state struggled to quickly absorb a rush of new immigrants. More than 50,000 Yemenite and other “Mazrahi” Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and Africa moved to the new state in its early years, and were often settled in chaotic transit camps, temporary tent cities were new immigrants were housed due a housing shortage.

In these camps, babies and toddlers were often taken from their parents to be cared for in hospitals or nurseries, which ostensibly offered better living conditions. Unfortunately, some of these babies—estimates range from 650 to more than 4,000—were never returned to their parents. Some parents were told that their babies had died, though most were not shown a body or a grave and many grieving parents weren’t given death certificates. Recent advances in DNA testing have proved that at least some of these supposedly deceased Yemenite babies never died at all, but rather, were placed for adoption with childless Ashkenazi (Jews of European descent) families. In 2016, one Israeli cabinet official who was part of a panel investigating the disappearances gave credence to activists’ claims that the children were systematically stolen and placed for adoption when he admitted that hundreds of children were taken from their families, saying, “They took the children, and gave them away. I don’t know where.”

7. Flight 19

Flight 19 didn’t consist of a single plane, but rather a group of five planes–US Navy TPM Avenger bombers—which took off from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station for a training mission between the Bahamas and Florida on the afternoon of December 5, 1945. The planes, and the 14 experienced airmen on them, never returned to shore.

The pilots of the group of planes, which would become known as the “Lost Patrol,” could be heard conversing with one another, and sounded disoriented by the fact that at least some of the pilots believed their compasses were malfunctioning and the worsening weather, which made assessing their position difficult. The lead pilot made the decision to fly east, believing they were in the Gulf of Mexico, a course the planes apparently stuck to until one pilot’s last transmission: “All planes close up tight … will have to ditch unless landfall. When the first plane drops to 10 gallons we all go down together.”

Two flying boats were dispatched to look for the missing patrol. One of those boats also disappeared from radar and, along with its 13-man crew, never returned. A passing merchant spotted a fireball in the sky, and saw evidence of an oil slick in the water, suggesting it likely fell victim to an explosion. Despite an extensive search by the Navy, bodies and debris from the missing patrol and the missing rescue mission were never located. A team of Navy investigators ultimately attributed the loss of Flight 19 to “causes or reasons unknown.”

6. The Mary Celeste

On November 7, 1872, the Mary Celeste, a 282-ton brigantine, set sail from New York City, bound for Genoa, Italy. It carried cargo of 1,700 barrels of industrial alcohol, seven crewmen, Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, and his 2-year-old daughter. When the ship was next spotted, almost a month later, 400 miles east of the Azores, the ship’s cargo and provisions were largely intact (though the lifeboat was missing), but there was no one aboard. The Mary Celeste was in reasonably good shape, other than some water in the bottom of the ship, and the crew of the ship that discovered it, the Dei Gratia, were able to sail it on to Gibraltar.

So what happened to the 10 people on board? There is no definitive answer to that question. Some suspected foul play, laying the blame on the crew of the Dei Gratia, who had applied to receive the salvage value of the ship. However, after a salvage inquiry was conducted, there was no evidence that this had occurred (there also wasn’t a whole lot of evidence that this had not occurred). Other theories, including mutiny, an explosion caused by the Mary Celeste’s boozy cargo, or an irrational decision by the captain also appeared unlikely. Anne MacGregor, who created a documentary film dedicated to unraveling the mystery, believes the evidence suggests that a faulty chronometer, along with a failing water pump aboard the ship, prompted Captain Briggs to believe the ship was in danger of sinking, and to give the order to abandon ship when the islands of the Azores were in sight. Since the lifeboat never arrived at the Azores, nor was it ever recovered, the definitive fate of the 10 souls aboard the Mary Celeste remains a mystery.

5. The Dyatlov Pass Incident

In late January 1959, a group of nine students of the Ural Polytechnic Institute and a ski instructor, set off for a skiing expedition to Mount Otorten in the northern Urals. Only one of them, Yuri Yudin, who had to turn back early due to health problems, ever returned from the trip.

When the other nine didn’t make contact as planned, a search party set out to locate them, and uncovered a grisly mystery. The first thing the rescuers located was the students’ tent, which had been sliced open from the inside. Most of the group’s belongings were still inside the tent, which appeared to have been abandoned in a hurry. Investigators found footprints showing that the group had fled the tent barefoot, in socks, or wearing a single shoe. The bodies of two of the students, dressed only in their underclothes were found near the remains of a campfire. Three more bodies were found between the fire and the tent. All five were determined to have died from hypothermia. A couple months later, the four remaining bodies were found at the bottom of a ravine, and showed signs of crush injuries and the tongue of one had been ripped out. Tests on their bodies showed trace amounts of radiation.

The Soviet military looked into the incident, somewhat vaguely determining that the group had died from a “natural force they were unable to overcome,” and classifying the materials related to the investigation.  In early 2019, Russian prosecutors announced they were reexamining the case, though they were only considering theories associated with natural phenomena. Said the spokesman for Russia’s Prosecutor General, “Crime is out of the question. There is not a single proof, even an indirect one, to favor this (criminal) version. It was either an avalanche, a snow slab or a hurricane.”

4. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

On March 8, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members took off from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia bound for Beijing. It never arrived. A months-long international search yielded only a few pieces of the plane, found thousands of miles from where the flight veered off course, but the bulk to the plane’s fuselage, along with the (presumed) remains of those aboard has yet to be located. The disappearance, and the lack of clarity about why or how the plane went missing shocked the world. As Miguel Marin, chief of operational safety at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Air Navigation Bureau put it, “It was inconceivable that in this day and age we would lose an airplane that big without a trace.”

There are a few clues about the plane’s disappearance. The plane turned sharply off its planned flight path, a maneuver experts suggest would have had to be carried out manually (versus via autopilot) and the aircraft’s responder stopped transmitting (possibly due to a malfunction, but more likely because it was turned off). While the pilot’s home simulator did show some flight paths similar to that undertaken by the flight shortly before it disappeared from radar, an investigation of the captain’s private life failed to turn up any signs of the sort of disturbance that would provide a motive for suicide (and the more than 200 innocent deaths that would accompany it) and the Malaysian government has dismissed this theory, and suggested a “mass hypoxia event” rendered all aboard unconscious, while the plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed. More definitive evidence about what happened on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may yet turn up, as the plane’s Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder have, as of mid-2019, not been located.

3. The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers

On December 26, 1900, a small ship made its way to a remote Scottish island. It carried a replacement lighthouse keeper, who would rotate in for a stint among the island’s three lighthouse keepers, and its only human inhabitants. However, when the ship arrived, no one emerged to greet it, even after the horn was sounded and a flare was fired. When the replacement lighthouse keeper rowed ashore and climbed to the lighthouse, he quickly discovered something was wrong. The lighthouse fireplace looked like it hadn’t been lit for a week and, while everything was in place, the three lighthouse keepers were nowhere to be found (although, oddly, one of them had left his protective oilskin coat in the lighthouse).

The official explanation suggests that the men were swept out to sea by a large wave as they attempted to secure some gear on a cliff during a storm. While it was against protocol for all three men to leave the lighthouse at once, one theory suggests that the third lighthouse keeper ventured out to help or warn his colleagues about an impending large wave (perhaps leaving his coat behind in haste) and was also swept away.

2. The Students of Iguala

One night in September 2014, a group of about 100 university students from a rural teachers college in Mexico headed out in the city of Iguala to commandeer several buses to carry their group to a march in Mexico City a few days later. According to reports, stealing buses was something of a local tradition, and neither the bus companies nor the authorities were particularly alarmed when this happened.

After an altercation at a local bus depot, the students headed out on five buses, trailed by police, some of whom started firing on the buses. Forty-three students on two of the buses were eventually taken into police custody; they were never seen again. Only one of the students’ bodies has been identified. The official account (disputed by international investigators and friends and families of the missing students) is that the students were kidnapped by local police officers, who turned them over to a drug gang, which then killed them and burned their bodies. International investigators were brought in 2015, but when they failed to support the government’s version of events, the hostility and stonewalling they encountered led them to abandon the inquiry, though a federal court ordered another investigation conducted in late 2018. As of mid-2019, there was no conclusive evidence on the fate of the missing students.

1. The Lost Colony

In 1587, a group of 115 English settlers founded the Roanoke Colony on an island off the coast of North Carolina. Later that year, John White, the colony’s governor, sailed back to England to secure additional supplies for the fledgling settlement. However, just as White arrived in England, a naval war broke out between England and Spain, and every ship was ordered to participate in the war effort. By the time White made it back to Roanoke, it was three years later, and there was no sign of the settlers.

The only clues were the word “Croatoan” carved into a fencepost, and the letters CRO carved into a tree. “Croatoan” was the name used for what is now called Hatteras Island, as well as the name of the Native American tribe that populated the area. Reportedly, White had agreed with the colonists prior to heading back to England that if the group needed to leave Roanoke under duress, they would carve a Maltese cross symbol into a tree; no such sign was found at the site. Despite several contemporaneous and modern investigations, the fate of the colonists remains a mystery. The most likely theory is that the colonists moved locations (perhaps splitting into multiple groups), possibly assimilating with local Native American tribes. Other theories suggest the colonists were killed by Native Americans, killed by Spanish settlers, or tried to sail back to England and were lost at sea. While research is still ongoing, and some hope that DNA analysis will at last unlock the mystery of the colonists’ fate, the “Lost Colony” has managed to remain lost to the world for more than 400 years.


Now You See Them, Then You Don’t

WIF Mystery

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #103

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #103

…John Ferrell’s  next visit uncovers three adults, one toddler and one Campbell, still in the company of potatoes, carrots and glass jars filled with a homemade assortment of preserves…

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I am going to check on Siegfried and Frieda, and finally ride on into town.” The plan is sound, the only way they will know what happened.

   “Do not forget Laura and the baby. Ask if they need anything from the store.”

  John is taken aback by his wife’s reference to Laura Bell’s child. He did not think she knew and now wonders what else she knows. There are more pressing matters, but it kind of makes him say, “Hmm…..”

Joseph had indeed stood fast with the livestock, saddling John’s jumpy mount in double rainbow-after-the-stormtime.

“Do your best to restore some order here, Joseph. I have a feeling we can number ourselves among the fortunate. And make sure you keep an eye out for looters. If a state of confusion reigns, those who think they are above the law may take advantage. You know where I keep the rifle. Make sure you clean it, using it only as a last resort. But we must protect what is ours.” There is a hint of anxiety in his voice, fearful what he may find in Tallahassee proper.

In the meantime, his visit next uncovers three adults, one toddler and one Campbell, still in the company of potatoes, carrots and glass jars filled with a homemade assortment of preserves. The cool damp shelter is meant to be a change from the tropical climate above, like the icebox above them in the kitchen. It makes for good sleeping weather, which they are, all snug in their blankets and in the absence of light, obviously oblivious to the new day.

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“Ziggy?” John whispers gently at the slumbering doctor. “Ziggy… don’t get up. The storm has passed, nothing serious to worry about, just downed trees and lots of rain.”

San Luis Lake has swelled up to the boards of the docks, whose boats have been deposited on this north shore. The waters of the lake are awash in grasses, leaves and branches.

“Vere did za storm come ashore?” Ziggy asks the critical question about any hurricane making landfall. And it was not just a tropical storm.

“I cannot be absolutely sure, but from where we are sitting, it looks like to the west, I guess I will find out, going in the town presently. Our telephone is on the blink.” It is amazing how easily a society can be spoiled. They have had the Bell invention for less than a year, yet it has become a sixth and seventh sense. “If you would, check on my girls… at the estate of course. I should be back late afternoon, can I get you anything?”

“Have you any veal? I am getting sick of rabbit stew.”

“Too much of a good thing my friend? I’ll see what we have in the cooler, if we have a cooler that is.”

 Disaster is about pulling together.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“After the Storm” by Tom Thomson

Episode #103


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