National Geographic : 1986 Sep
AMERICANMUSEUMOF NATURALHISTORY Anvil chorus of young admirerspays tributeto the great Ahnighito, the world's second largestsingle meteorite, on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (below). For untold generationsthe Eskimos of Cape York, Greenland, revered the 34-ton iron meteorite, which is thought to have fallen 10,000 years ago. They once fashioned harpoon blades from lesserfragments of the Cape York iron. Explorer Robert E. Peary persuaded them to reveal the meteorite's location, and three summers later he and his crew finally managed to load the behemoth onto their ship (left). Navigatingthrough ice and gales, and with a compass rendered useless by the presence of the meteorite, he brought Ahnighito to New York in 1897. Twice the weight of Ahnighito, the 66-ton Hoba meteorite is the world's largest. It still lies where it fell, half buried, in northern Namibia (right). The absence of a cratercould be explained by a low-angle entry through the atmosphere. Iron meteorites-such as the three-ton Old Woman (bottom right), discovered in California'sOld Woman Mountains in 1976-break apartin the atmosphere less often than theirstony cousins. Believed to be the fragmented cores of asteroids, they arefar less common than stones, though easier to distinguishfrom terrestrialrocks.