June 17, 2009

Ancient life evidence found in Lake Huron

U.S. scientists say they have found evidence of human activity on a 9,000-year-old land bridge now located more than 100-feet deep in Lake Huron.

University of Michigan researchers, who made the discovery, said the ruins are of caribou-hunting structures and camps used by the early hunters of the period.

This is the first time we've identified structures like these on the lake bottom, said Professor John O'Shea, curator of Great Lakes archaeology at the university's Museum of Anthropology. Scientifically, it's important because the entire ancient landscape has been preserved and has not been modified by farming or modern development. That has implications for ecology, archaeology and environmental modeling.

O'Shea and Professor Guy Meadows found hunting pits, camps, caribou drive lanes and stone piles used to attract the caribou to the drive lanes -- long rows of rocks used to channel caribou into ambushes.

The researchers said the hunting formations are on the 10-mile-wide Alpena-Amberley ridge that stretches more than 100 miles from Point Clark, Ontario, to Presque Isle, Michigan. The ridge was a bridge between 10,000 and 7,500 years ago when water levels were much lower.

Archaeologists are to begin examining the area this summer.

The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.