National Geographic : 1956 Mar
380 Roland W. Brown The End of a Search: Dr. Brown Frees Fossil Leaves from a Prison of Rock In 1953 paleontologist Lewis took a fragmentary leaf imprint from this Triassic outcrop in Colorado. Here Dr. Brown confirms Dr. Lewis's discovery of the oldest known flowering plant (pages 363 and 364). desiccated. On the face of Tollund man, dis covered in Denmark in 1950, every wrinkle, every feature shows as clearly as on the day he was sacrificed in a tribal ceremony.* Shaggy Elephants on Ice In New York's American Museum of Nat ural History you can see another potential human fossil-"copper man," found in a Chilean mine shaft. This pre-Columbian In dian, clad in a waistcloth and using rough stone tools, was apparently killed at work underground. The copper skin color suggests that minerals entered it, but actually simple drying preserved the body. In age, however, these finds pale before those made in cave deposits of Choukoutien, near Peking (Peiping), China, in the 1920's and 1930's. Known collectively as Sinan thropus pekinensis, Peking man, these frag mentary remains of some 40 individuals wrote a new chapter in man's early history. Roughly contemporary with apelike Java man, beetle-browed, chinless Sinanthropus used fire and made crude implements of stone and deer antlers. Safe in Nature's keeping some half-million years, Peking man disappeared during the Japanese invasion of China in World War II, and his whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. Fortunately, casts had been made of the priceless relics. The most spectacular examples of fossiliza tion are frozen woolly mammoths-the shaggy elephants that roamed over northern Europe, Asia, and North America during Pleistocene times. Doubtless most of these Ice Age long hairs decomposed or were devoured. Others bogged down in far-north swamps, froze in their dying pose, and kept solid thousands of years in Nature's deepfreeze. Now, with a warming climate, their bodies and those of their contemporary, the woolly rhinoceros, are thawing out. Dogs and wild animals relish the still-red meat and white-to yellow fat, and they suffer no ill effects. Siberian hunters bait fox traps with the flesh. The Beresovka mammoth was retrieved from the Siberian tundra intact but for part of the exposed trunk devoured by wolves. * See "Lifelike Man Preserved 2,000 Years in Peat," NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1954.