Posts Tagged ‘Terra Tempo Two’

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Tracking the Seitaad and the Ancient Dunes of the Colorado Plateau

September 30, 2010

by Eleanor Kish, Image reproduced courtesy of Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

In March of 2010, news was released that scientists had named a new dinosaur. Seitaad ruessi was discovered by an artist who was painting Ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs and buildings. The bones of the creature were sticking out of the petrified sand dunes that make up the red rocks known as Navajo Sandstone. The artist reported his findings to the BLM and the rest is news. A good article about the finding and release of the information can be found here. Note that the bones were found sticking out of the rocks just below an Ancestral Pueblo ruin.

The creature found is a sauropodmorph, or a smaller ancestor of the famous gigantic sauropods that roamed the earth and dominated the Jurassic scenery.

There were a few things that caught my attention about this news.
1st: Ancestors of the giant sauropods roamed the ancient desert that later became Navajo Sandstone. This desert was huge and we hardly have anything on the planet to compare it to in the modern day. The Sahara and the sands of Mauritania are the closest analogs, but that region lacks the monsoon rains that were a part of the ancient ecosystem.

I have been wrestling with the various evidence that is out there and putting together a mental picture of what the early Jurassic ecosystem of the Colorado Plateau may have looked like. Jenna, Caleb, and Ari will be time traveling there in Terra Tempo two and I want to be as accurate as the evidence allows when it comes to the depiction of the landscape they will be visiting.

The news release of Seitaad’s discovery gave me great hope that those ancient dunes were indeed alive with a diversity of life, even if the geologic evidence left behind depicts a vast ocean of sand.

Seitaad, by the way, comes from the Navajo legend of a sand monster that drags its victims under the dunes. The sauropodmorph was apparently buried under a collapsing dune.

2nd: Everett Ruess

Picture of Everett Ruess and his famous smile

Everett Ruess disappeared from Davis Gulch in the Escalante Canyon system in November of 1934. He was a poet, artist, wanderer, and eloquent writer of nature’s beauty. His story is one of a deep love of the land and an unwillingness to compromise with the societal demands of the developing world. It is also an unsolved mystery.

Ruess was unknown to me until I read the news about the dinosaur discovery. I have since been reading the book by W.L Rusho about Ruess’s life. I have decided that Everett fits the profile perfectly for being another character in Terra Tempo Two. But when he appears in the book, he will be a time traveler known as NEMO, for that is the last clue he left the world as to what happened to him.

He carved that name below this panel of petroglyphs formerly found in Davis Gulch. The petroglyphs and the Ancestral Pueblo shelter that were nearby are underwater now, drowned out by Lake Powell and the Glenn Canyon Dam. Here is what the panel looked like prior to submersion:

NEMO comes from both the Odyssey where Odysseus uses it as a pseudonym to outwit the cyclops Polyphemus, and from Jules Vern’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Ruess’s mom Stella confirmed that Everett did not like to write his real name in public.

I can’t even begin to describe how rich this all is in my mind. You have a young kid (age 20) who disappears into the mysterious canyon country in 1934, a new species of dinosaur that sheds light on the evolution of sauropods, a beast from Navajo legend that swallows you under the sand and yet another story of art lending a helping hand to the discoveries of Science. All this discovered on the trail of a time travel story being crafted around the various ecosystems of the ancient Colorado Plateau, yet colored by the modern cultures and peoples that still live in the region today.

It makes me want to pack up and go the the Escalante for some more research!

–David