Washington Post on Pestera cu Oase

1 minute read

This article is about nine months old now, but one of my students brought me a clipping, so I thought I would pass it along. It is a good story about the Pestera cu Oase discovery.

At the start of each day's nine-hour excursion underground, team members stepped into a frigid mountain river that flows into a cave, their helmet-mounted lights piercing the perpetual fog of the cave's 100 percent humidity. As the equipment-laden crew sloshed past stalagmites, the cave narrowed and the air temperature plunged from the 90s to the upper 40s Fahrenheit.
Further in, the ceiling lowered until they were forced, first, to swim on their backs and, finally, don their diving masks and enter a narrow, 80-foot-long underwater passage called "the sump." Underwater visibility was about three feet.

Nice work on why the fossils are important:

Trinkaus made a CT scan of the face to measure the unerupted teeth. "To find wisdom teeth that big," he said, "you have to go back 500,000 years."

In the fair-and-balanced section, the article quotes Richard Klein:

"There could have been interbreeding," Klein conceded. "But all the genetic evidence we have suggests that, if it occurred, it was remarkably rare."

This probably signals more about the reporter's choice of what would heighten the controversy than Klein's actual remarks. On the other hand, if you start hearing an archaeologist talk mainly about the genetic evidence, you have to wonder how weak the behavioral evidence has become.