|24 April 2004
Ancient bird feather darts find
By examining 4,300-year-old bird feathers, scientists are gaining a glimpse into the pre-history of the Yukon (USA). Twelve feather samples were sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. after melting out of ice patches in alpine meadows in southern Yukon. The feathers were first discovered several summers ago, attached to ancient arrows or darts. When the ice melts each summer, archeological finds are revealed.
Scientists recently determined the age of the feathers. "You know we put this muddy, dirty, brown feather in the water bath and all of a sudden it was like we were developing a photograph – the colour started coming out," said Carla Dove, a Smithsonian bird expert who has been working with First Nations people in the Yukon for the past few years. "I mean these are the oldest known bird remains to my knowledge that are in existence anywhere," she says.
But it's not only the age that's significant for Diane Strand, a heritage officer for the Champagne Aishihik First Nation. "The workmanship of the feathers is what really hits home to us in what we're going to be able to do with the research," she says. "We're going to be able to take this material and say this is what our ancestors have done, because we have proof of that now."
Source: CBC News (21 April 2004)
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