Tag Archives: Rob Quinn

Hidden fortress found under Alcatraz

Hidden fortress found under Alcatraz

By Rob Quinn

Published February 27, 2014

Newser
  • Hidden fortress found under Alcatraz

    Three armored railroad cars arrive on a car ferry at the United States Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco in August 1934. (AP Photo/File)

A surprising find under what used to be America’s most notorious prison: Texas A&M researchers using ground-penetrating radar have discovered the remains of an old military fortress long believed to have been completely destroyed, reports the BBC.

The San Francisco Bay island was once the home of Fort Alcatraz, built upon the discovery of gold in the area and transformed into a line of defense during the Civil War.

The fort never fired a shot during the war, though it did house Confederate sympathizers jailed for denouncing the federal government. The radar has revealed old fortifications along with buried magazine buildings and tunnels dating from long before the main prison building was erected in 1915.

“From 1850 to 1907 was the era of Fortress Alcatraz,” explains Texas A&M professor of geology and geophysics Mark Everett. Much of the remaining fortress is inaccessible under prison buildings, but archeologists hope to start excavations soon on what they believe is an important find under the prison’s parade ground.

“It is called a caponier, and it is a large structure that juts out into the bay and provides defensive cover. We have seen it in the old photographs but it has completely disappeared from present view,” says Everett.

He told the Houston Chronicle last month that the National Park Service had asked his team to search for Civil War-era structures at the site, using equipment that scans under the earth in a way “similar to the way people look for oil deposits.” One other find of note: what is believed to be some of the oldest concrete in the US, which was likely imported from Europe.

(Historians are trying to locate another long-lost US fort, but it turns out they may have been looking in the wrong state.)

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Scientists accidentally kill world’s oldest animal at age 507

Scientists accidentally kill world’s oldest animal at age 507

Rob Quinn, Newser12 p.m. EST November 15, 2013
The oldest animal ever known lived from 1499 until the day researchers cracked its shell open, killing it in the process.

Ming, an ocean quahog from the species Arctica islandica, was initially thought to be a record-setting 402 years old. But the scientists who found it on a seabed near Iceland in 2006 now say further analysis has revealed that it was an incredible 507 years old, reports CBS.

The researchers, who didn’t realize how old Ming was when they first found it, opened the ancient clam up to judge its age by counting growth rings inside its hinge ligaments. That’s because the rings are “better protected” there, scientist Paul Butler tells ScienceNordic, which notes that Ming was named for the Chinese dynasty that ruled when it was born.

But the rings were so close together that scientists ended up having to count the rings on the outside to be accurate, leading CBS to point out that Ming could have lived on, had scientists just started there.

“We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit [hasty] publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now,” says Butler.

The old, dead, mollusk still has a huge amount to offer science, reports the Herald-Sun. Scientists believe it will provide valuable data on changing sea temperatures over the last half-millennium—and maybe even some clues to longevity.

In other fascinating animal news, the “Asian Unicorn” has been captured on camera.

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