From: Andrew Johnson
Date: 2005-12-27 10:05:19
It gets more interesting as you read on… www.paleoshilling.nl… DESTRUCTION OF THE CITADEL AT BAM
March 27, 2004 It has now been three months since the earthquake decimated Bam, killed thousands, and destroyed the historic Citadel of Arg-i-Bam. Emotions still run high with the human loss, and the historical loss architecturally is almost as painful. But for me the opportunity to examine the ancient skeletal remains of dozens of humans recovered from within the surviving walls of the city has truly been amazing. Unfortunately, little remains of the ancient Citadel, and so there is much work to be done. This is of course a human tragedy first – but it is a scientific and archaeological tragedy as well, to lose such a remarkable structure.
THE SKELETON OF JEBAL-BAREZ
June 12, 2004Two weeks ago, while having dinner in one of the dozens of small cafes in Bam, I was approached by the father of a young local boy, who claimed to have found something in the mountains that he wanted to tell me about. The father, clearly skeptical, was probably intending to scold the boy for making up lies – and was surprised when I took the boy’s story seriously. The boy led me the following day to a rocky area in the Jebal-Barez Mountain region, where he had often taken his few sheep to graze on what little vegetation there was. What he had found was the bizarre fossilized remains of some unknown creature. The archaeology staff working on the Citadel had directed father and son to me – although I am not a paleontologist, my specialty is an offshoot, so I suppose they thought me the next best thing – and besides, the staff here are stretched thin. What I found was clearly organic, not to mention extremely large. I believe the skeleton was partially unveiled following the earthquake, otherwise it would have been discovered previously. You can see in the photograph the immense size of the creature’s ribs and vertebrae in comparison with my small figure, and this is just a small section of the fossil, which stretches a great distance in either direction (possibly hundreds of feet long total). I am standing close to what I believe to be the head of the creature, with the rib cage extending dozens of feet beyond the photograph and into the bare rock. I cannot even begin to speculate on the size of this creature. I will need to return with more equipment and certainly others better versed with this type of find. At this point, these are but simple deductions until further tests can be done. C. SHILLING
August 26, 2004 The curious discovery in the Jebal-Barez Mountains has not only taken me away from my work in Bam, but also inspired many more questions than I can seem to find answers for. What I can confirm from testing the remains is that they are authentic, but of what its hard to say. The remains also cover an immense area for one animal, only adding to the confusion.
As my experience with human remains serves me only to a point, I will say the apparent section I am working on is a ribcage. Extending from the ribs are multiple sets of bilateral appendages (the “arms”) that appear to be the fins of an enormous whale (click for info on whale anatomy (www.edwardtbabinski….). It brings to mind that prehistoric ancestor of the whale, the great basilosaurus (www.corvettemuseum.c…) – but dwarfs it in size. Yet something about these appendages also suggests wings (click for info on wing anatomy) (www.wfu.edu/albatros…)
However, with a colossus of such size, and such a massive “wingspan” – if they indeed are wings – would have made its flying capability close to supernatural.
C. SHILLING JEBAL-BAREZ SKELETON UPDATE: POSSIBLE REPTILIAN FEATURES REVEALED
October 3, 2005 Well over a year has passed since I’ve been able to update my website, for a variety of reasons, though primarily due to an overabundance of work, and a few complications with my host country of Iran and their willingness to allow what they consider sensitive information to leave their borders. (Keep in mind, I can only update my site on my visits home as I have no Internet access within Iran.)
In the time since we set up camp in the desolate Jebal-Barez Mountains, it has become clear to me that these remains were certainly unveiled in the horrible earthquake of 26 Dec. 2003, and never previously found.
I’ve been kept on as lead advisor despite my protestations and lack of experience, however we have been provided an excellent crew of experienced diggers. Unfortunately, the pace of both politics and paleontology is very slow in this country, so our excavation of these remains has taken much longer than I would ever have anticipated. I suppose the bones can certainly wait – they’ve been doing so for thousands of years already. Unfortunately, living humans aren’t quite as patient.
With each month that passes, the sheer size of the site now would suggest more than one animal, but my more adept colleagues here believe that is not the case – it is indeed the skeleton of a single giant creature.
I’ve been contemplating that the animal is possibly reptilian in nature. It is considerably larger than any dinosaur I can think of. But is it a dinosaur? Despite my limited knowledge in that area of inquiry, it seems unlikely, for a variety of reasons – but primarily, the condition of the bones suggests a fossil much younger than the Cretaceous Era. It is, based on my understanding of human skeletal remains, possibly even contemporaneous with humans, or at any rate, early hominids. And yet, that is impossible. Unfortunately, proper carbon dating will have to wait – the local government is notoriously shy about allowing any historical or archaeological material out of country for any reason. Regardless, these latest photos I have sent to Stockholm for an artists rendering of what this creature may have looked like. My team continues to dig as I take care of business in Dordrecht and await the results of the sketch. C. SHILLING ANOTHER PHOTO
October 18, 2005
November 8, 2005
An artists rendition is always open to a certain degree of discussion especially among Paleopathologists. That, said if this drawing (which we only received yesterday) is even remotely accurate, this animal is massive, a biological impossibility – and yet there it is, buried in the rock for untold centuries, apparently over 200 feet long. The cavity structure of the fossilized remains suggests it was most certainly reptilian, possibly amphibious or even avian – but none of it makes any sense. As for the apparent wing anatomy, that debate continues. This is a creature that stands outside the known animal kingdom, and will perhaps require years of study to fully understand. We are now at a point of actively seeking outside help to decipher this mystery. So for those of you interested, I invite you to join the confusion.C. SHILLING