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THE SAHARA

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2009, 09:01:22 am »










Alas, things often look different from a satellite.

None of the fans proves datable, so Mather turns to Plan B.

She says she can also date the end of the last wet period using sediments from a massive, dried-up lake bottom she spotted on her satellite map.

Off we bound, crossing the lake’s ancient shoreline, zigging and zagging over the cracked mud surface.

 We pass two parallel rows of stones, but they are not ancient: They are used for camel racing. At the old lake’s center, Mather declares, “Let’s dig a hole and see what’s under here.” We dig down about half a meter. “I would love to have a [natural] channel here,” says Mather, “so I could see the layers and tell how far we have to go down.” But we find no layers; neither the fans nor the lakes pan out.

In the late afternoon we rejoin the others, who have been exploring rock shelters eroded over thousands of millennia out of sandstone and mudstone seafloors.

Many are rich with rock art.

Gaugnin has found some indications of climate characteristics: white rhino images.

She points to one, explaining, “See here? It has a longer head and a slight hump on the shoulder and a wider mouth.” It’s the wide mouth that’s the clue: It means it’s more of a grazing animal than the black rhino, and grazing means it lived in a wetter climate than the black rhino likes.

We all pitch in, searching more walls for pictographs. Excitement abounds when new images are spotted. “Maria, I have what might be a hippo here,” Brooks calls out. “Not much of its head, but the body....” Gaugnin extricates herself from a tight cave corner and bounds over. “No, the legs are far too long,” she sighs. “It looks more like a gazelle with a fat rump.”
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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