Monday, April 1, 2013


Petroglyph, Leo, Jackson County, Ohio. 
Photograph: Peter Faris, July 1985.

The discovery of a rare Native American petroglyph at the Leo petroglyph site, near Leo, Ohio, has confirmed the presence of penguins in ancient Ohio. A careful examination will reveal the flipper wings held somewhat out from the sides of the bird, and some sort of plumage on the head. This plumage suggests that the image is from an ancestor to today's Macaroni Penguin, Eudyptes chrysolophus.

Macaroni Penguin, Eudyptes chrysolophus,

In a time of climatic uncertainty this discovery has scientists rushing to re-evaluate the effects of climate change on the ecosystem and human societies. The penguin petroglyph indicates that the climate was quite cold within the period of time that humans occupied southern Ohio. Was there a population of Eskimos here at the time, or had the local tribes learned to cope with lower temperatures? Answers to those questions will take considerable research and time to evaluate the evidence.

Penguins. Photograph: Katy Dreifuss, November, 2012.

The penguin petroglyph can be seen at the Leo Petroglyph site, near Leo, Ohio, and it will force scientists to reevaluate their theories about Native American history and populations, as well as what they thought they knew about the climatic history of North America – or perhaps they just need to look at their calendars. Happy April first!

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