Whales Prove Climate Change Caused By Ocean Currents

This is a fascinating video just for all the neat extinct animals it illustrates. Basically the guy just walks you through the massive evolutionary radiation of different animal types that happened after the dinosaurs got wiped out. There are really giant bunnies, a snake that’s the largest animal on Earth, whale ancestors walking around both on dry land and under the water, and dry land walking “hoofed” alligators (busy eating the proto-horses of the era – Yeah, I’m not liking the idea of a ‘gator that chases down horses on land either…)

Now in general, when watching it, one big take away is that extinction is frequent, common, and does NOT need people to happen. It’s an arms race and most critters lose it.

Also of interest is just all the strange paths nature takes. Sea Cows closet relative is the Elephant. There was a giant carnivorous land duck / goose. Ever have one them mean buggers chasing you at the park? (One pecked / bit my 3 year old kid back in the day). Well, imagine it being 6 foot tall… Then there are some very bizarre animals that were alive when people entered the Americas that now we think of as horrific monsters. Now THAT would make an interesting movie!

But what really “lit me up” was near the end when he got to whales. Seems they were mostly small until fairly recently in evolutionary terms. Then, suddenly, a lot of baleen plankton eaters got real big real fast. (Discussed at about 44 minutes to 47 in the video) What happened? A lot of cold deep water formed as the ice age began when the Isthmus of Panama formed and rearranged the ocean currents.

So here we have two things in the evolutionary record, attested. Closure of the Isthmus caused Ice Age formation. Rearranged ocean currents can cause dramatic climate change. I think that makes the notion of lunar tidal current re-arrangement (that is known to happen) a much stronger contender for “climate changes” than CO2.

Post Script

This article discusses the whale paper and has the following reference in it:


Graham J. Slater, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Nicholas D. Pyenson. Independent evolution of baleen whale gigantism linked to Plio-Pleistocene ocean dynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1855): 20170546 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0546

The Paper:



Vertebrates have evolved to gigantic sizes repeatedly over the past 250 Myr, reaching their extreme in today’s baleen whales (Mysticeti). Hypotheses for the evolution of exceptionally large size in mysticetes range from niche partitioning to predator avoidance, but there has been no quantitative examination of body size evolutionary dynamics in this clade and it remains unclear when, why or how gigantism evolved. By fitting phylogenetic macroevolutionary models to a dataset consisting of living and extinct species, we show that mysticetes underwent a clade-wide shift in their mode of body size evolution during the Plio-Pleistocene. This transition, from Brownian motion-like dynamics to a trended random walk towards larger size, is temporally linked to the onset of seasonally intensified upwelling along coastal ecosystems. High prey densities resulting from wind-driven upwelling, rather than abundant resources alone, are the primary determinant of efficient foraging in extant mysticetes and Late Pliocene changes in ocean dynamics may have provided an ecological pathway to gigantism in multiple independent lineages.

Sudden increase in whale size when oceans cool and upwelling increases

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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43 Responses to Whales Prove Climate Change Caused By Ocean Currents

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    So all we need to do to end ice ages is to nuke Panama (operation plowshare) to create the straits of Panama and restore circulation between the Pacific basin and the Atlantic.

    /sarc (no I don’t want to fix things I don’t know are broken)

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, yes.

    I know you don’t want to fix it now, but when the folks in New York City are looking at an approaching ice wall 100 yards high, headed for a mile high over their heads, they might just decide it is worth it.

    About Wind:

    The guy also talked about more offshore winds causing greater nutrient turnover and raising cold bottom water… While cleaning up tonight (from dinner and a lard rendering first try) I got to thinking… (which tends to happen when the hands are busy and the brain is bored…)

    I’ve noticed that the winds now are stronger than before. More like they were back in the ’60s. Rarely dead stop anymore. We’ve also entered a more meridianal jet stream phase. The “loopy jet stream” now has a much longer path around the planet and seems to be moving faster.

    Could that be the mechanism by which a solar minimum causes cooling? More wind from a merdianal jet stream turning up more cold bottom water?

    We would need temperature vs depth profiles for lots of places around the planet to know if the cold deeps are now getting more like the cold shallows. I’m pretty sure the data doesn’t exist. A proxy for it might be just the frequency of El Nino vs. La Nina cycles. Or perhaps the PDO / AMO says something about overturning. Wind drives the currents more than anything else, so it would make sense that wind could modulate the overturning, and through it the temperature… So what modulates the winds? And is the idea that a meridianal jet stream is a faster surface winds valid?

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh Dear! Looks like “Often Wrong” Michael Mann may have the right data but the wrong conclusion on Wind!


    Global Warming Speed Bump? The Answer May Be Blowing in the Wind!
    By Michael E. Mann
    The explanation for the speed bump, the authors say, might lie in the stronger-than-normal winds in the tropical Pacific for much of the past decade. The equatorial trade winds are responsible for the upwelling of cold deep water in the eastern equatorial Pacific (why the Galapagos Islands are a cold place to go swimming, despite being located near the equator). That cold water spreads out over a large part of the eastern and central tropical Pacific. Make those winds stronger, and you get cooler surface temperatures over a large region of Earth’s tropics, and modestly lower global surface temperatures of 0.1-0.2C (enough to explain much if not all of the slowing of global warming over this short time frame). The surface cooling is associated, in turn, with greater burial of heat beneath the ocean surface.

    He then confounds bringing UP cold water with sending DOWN heat. It doesn’t work that way, The dispaced water gets pushed, along the surface, toward the poles where that heat radiates to space. The heat does not magically move counter current against the up-welling cold water.

    So basically he says winds ARE stronger and making more cold upwelling. Instead of stopping with those facts and saying “Gee, that makes it colder” and realizing what that means; he goes off into fantasy wrong way heat flows and all sorts of other crazy stuff.

    But I’m happy with the bits that:

    Winds ARE higher and have been for at least a decade.

    That DOES cause more cold up-welling and surface cooling (the uncomfortable ‘pause’ in the cooked data – while snow is stacking up in mid-April across the entire northern half of North America and Britain is running a few weeks maybe headed for a month late on spring crops, and that indicates it is actually getting colder not just pausing.)

    I think the process / thesis “has legs”. We just need to get “Wrong Way Mann” out of the discussion…

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Winds are driven by pressure differentials which are in turn created by the Hadley cell circulation.
    The larger the differential in temperature between the equator and the poles the more drive for the winds as I understand it.

    Warming at the poles and cooling at the equator (extra clouds or wind driven over turning of the ocean) should suppress global winds and cause warming over the whole planet, but at some point as the delta T drops and the winds go relatively quiet the poles would cool again and the equator could warm and the process repeats on – – – Oh perhaps a 30 year cycle??


  5. ossqss says:

    Don’t forget about Kelvin and Rossby waves. Pehaps deep water brine current impacts on phytoplankton helped whale growth?

    I recall watching this Koch production a few years ago and found it interesting enough to share.


    IMHO, I think this little event had a significant impact on our Pale Blue Dot and it must have been an SAUV (Stone Age Utility Vehicle) that done it! ;-)

  6. llanfar says:

    @ossqss “SAUV (Stone Age Utility Vehicle)“ – excellent

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    That jpg is fascinating. It had never occurred to me that there was still an ice sheet just 7000 years ago. If it was still over northern Canada, where else was still covered? That’s only 5,000 BC and at the start of historical civilization.

    Not the image you get when folks say the Holocene started 12 kya…

  8. ossqss says:

    The ice melt kinda correlates with the 20,000 years of SLR we have had, and mass migrations too ;-)

    That image is from here. https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/education/ourlakes/background.html

  9. philjourdan says:

    Whales being a product of ice ages is one of those things that is obvious once someone tells you. I guess we never thought of it before. But their bodies are built for cold (all that blubber). And now we know how they got so big – all that seafood – without the competition from walking gators!

  10. ossqss says:

    I saw this paper hyped the other day and never got around to checking it out. Dr. Roy did it for me. Interesting how so many media hyped things can’t pass closer inspection..


  11. E.M.Smith says:

    At one time the central western plains were called “The Great American Desert”, and there ARE massive sand dunes under the thin surface layer, but it becomes that way during COLD, not during WARM. Warm times have more Gulf moisture pulled up into the central USA and more water making more green growth. Right now we’ve taken a cold turn from the sun going quiet; the result? Lots more snow and precipitation from the loopy jet stream.

    It would sure help if the folks doing these crap studies would read about the geology of the place they are studying and compare / contrast the Ice Age Glacial and LIA surface conditions to interglacial and Roman Optimum conditions. Then at least they might get the sign right…

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    Evolution requires chaotic conditions that created new niches for survival. A “new” or different type species can not evolve into a niche that is being successfully exploited by an existing species.
    I have traveled much of the North Pacific and have seen the bloom of life where the cold nutrient rich waters up-well into the sun warmed surface waters. Deep blue seas turn reddish green with life, some times so dense that it makes windrows on the surface. Great shoals of fish search the oceans for these blooms of life and the sea mammals hunt the fish. Baleen’s also hunt these blooms and can intake tons of rich seafood in a short time. Then travel for days or months to find the next. In the sea, large size is a positive survival advantage if you can feed it.

    The human foot and upright stance indicates that hominoids have been ground walkers for a very long time. The tree Apes are very niche limited as they must live and travel in forested jungles. They require the stable conditions of Equatorial jungle. Meanwhile the ground Apes can follow the need to find better living conditions as climate conditions change. The more I think on this the more I feel that ground apes are the general ape line and the tree apes are the specialists that have evolved to exploit a particular forest/jungle niche. Tool making exists among many species that find the need for it, Humans are just very good at it. Humans can even reinvent their own behavior and tool kits to fit the needs that they find on their walk around and fill every niche of life from Arctic to equator, from mountain to desert. Today, even ocean to space. Even more important they can teach unborn generations the abilities needed to survive in conditions they have not yet encountered.

    This communication system that we are using is as important as speech and memory in human species evolution. The thing that concerns me about this is the level of civilization needed to maintain this tool system. For some reason the “Educated Elites” just don’t get it. There is a vast tail that makes their privileged lives possible. Millions of little people are needed just to keep these computer/communication systems functioning. Hundreds of millions to keep the darkness at bay…pg

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    At the time the high plains east of the Rockies were referred to as “The Great American Desert” the word desert had a different connotation than it does today. At that time barren steppes with no timber and little water were considered “desert” because without pumped water they were not suitable for farming.

    From the perspective of folks from the Ohio river valley, and Mississippi river valley where there was reliable water at the bottom of almost every draw between ridge lines, it was a forbidding place for horses oxen. In St Louis Mo. The average annual rainfall is between 42 and 45 inches per year, On the high plains average rain fall drops suddenly to between 15 and 10 inches per year. At La Junta Colorado a short distance from the old Sante Fe trail on the Arkansas river, average rainfall is 11.5 inches. At Limon on today’s I70 it is just over 15 inches as is Denver. At Pueblo the average is 13 inches but in all those locations in a dry year the annual precipitation can be half the average, in which case almost all water courses run dry in the late summer. Twice in my lifetime we have had annual precipitations of only 7.5 inches here in the Denver Metro area, (2002, 1954)

    There is a vast area south of the Platte River in Nebraska and southern Wyoming to the Arkansas river in southern Colorado where timber is almost unknown except in isolated seasonal drainages and seeps. Without intimate knowledge of were water could be found, it could not be crossed by covered wagon or horse back especially in late summer.

    The Oregon trail in the north and the Sante Fe trail on the south pretty much defined that zone between them until about 1855 and later.

    It was not until the mid 1850’s that alternate routes were developed along the Smokey Hill trail, and the Republican River trail into the heart of the high plains.

    Click to access Pamphlet.pdf

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry, yes, the definition of desert has changed over the years. Generally it is considered that 20 inches of rain fall is needed for dependable non-irrigated agriculture, More or less, depending on the crop. Also the timing of wet season to crop growth season is of importance. Fertility is of great importance as well in beneficial use of the water available. The increase in fertility in the soil as well as in the air (CO2) results in reduced water demands by the plant to complete it’s life cycle…pg

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Paleoclimate and future

    Paleoclimate proxy data and computer simulations reveal that the Nebraska Sandhills likely had active sand dunes as recently as the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures in the North Atlantic region were about 1°C (1.8°F) warmer than the current climate. Much of the area was a scrub desert, with desert-like conditions extending to several other states.

    The Wiki is then infested with Warmista Rabid Speculation that Global Warming will make it a worse desert in the future. I just find it fascinating that it essentially admits the Medieval Warm Period A) Existed and B) was warmer!

    Don’t know exactly when it transitioned from sandy to not, or when the “desert” aspect became less so dominant, but “not that long ago” and “not so much” since it isn’t a peaches and ice cream environment today…


    The plant-anchored dunes of the Sandhills were long considered an irreclaimable desert. In the 1870s, cattlemen began to discover their potential as rangeland for Longhorn cattle.

    The fragility of the sandy soil makes the area unsuitable for cultivation of crops. Attempts at farming were made in the region in the late 1870s and again around 1890.
    Some development of cropland agriculture in the modern era has occurred through the use of center-pivot irrigation systems.

    The 1904 Kinkaid Act allowed homesteaders to claim 640 acres (2.6 km2) of land, rather than the 160 acres (0.6 km2) allowed by the 1862 Homestead Act. Nearly nine million acres (36,000 km2) were claimed by “Kinkaiders” between 1910 and 1917. Some of the Kinkaiders farmed the land, but these attempts generally failed. This included Nebraska’s largest black settlement, DeWitty, which was located in southeast Cherry County until the 1930s. Many of the largest ranches broke up about the same time due to regulations against fencing federal range lands.

    In the 21st century, the Sandhills are a productive cattle ranching area, supporting over 530,000 beef cattle. The population of the region continues to decline as older generations die out and as younger generations move to the cities. A number of small towns remain in the region.

    For my money, it’s still a desert… You can drive all day in Nebraska and not see a Starbucks!


  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes we are right on the edge of being true desert (modern connotation) as I recall the precipitation cut off is around 6-8 inches of precipitation per year or less for several years.

    I bet if you got to digging you would find that during the 800 year drought in the Midwest that the sand hills almost reverted to true desert and only recently have recovered.

    This PDF seems to confirm that – there were reports in the 1860’s news accounts of drought conditions of blowing sand and deep drought engulfed much of the great plains in the 1300’s


    Historical accounts from newspapers and diaries provide additional documentation of nineteenth-century drought events. The 1860 drought was reported in Kansas newspapers, which continued to mention the severity of this drought for several decades after the event (Bark 1978). Less severe droughts were also reported in historical documents and early meteorological records for several years around 1860, in the late 1880s, and in the early 1890s (Ludlum 1971; Bradley 1976; Bark 1978). The map in Fig. 2 shows general locations of data sources and drought years documented in historical data, while Fig. 3 (top) shows a time line of these droughts. Accounts of early explorers document periods of blowing sand (an indication of drought conditions) for an area extending from northern Nebraska to southern Texas (Muhs and Holliday 1995).

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another reference confirming the same thing just a few hundred years ago the Nebraska Sand hills were a sand dune desert.


  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    When you get to areas such as the Sand Hills, a hot range fire can turn range grass lands into blowing desert for many years until the dunes cover reheals and drifting halts. After the roots and duff accumulates a fire starts and all the organics burn off again. Reset, the dunes move again. General points of view may not reflect local realities. Accepted facts are not! forest and brush consume vast amounts of water. Bare rocks and soils accumulate deep horizons of moisture that feed springs and grasslands that become brush and tree covered, that burns off to become bare once again. The Great Basin exists at the edge of wet/dry. It has one drainage, The Colorado River, much of it is comprised of closed drainage’s, A very small increase in water accumulation in the Basin results in thunder storm recycling. At present the Jet Stream storm line just skirts the northern edge of the Basin…pg.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    Speaking of Great Basin, 14,000 years ago when it rained a little more, it had big lakes…

    Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric pluvial lake that covered much of the eastern part of North America’s Great Basin region. Most of the territory it covered was in present-day Utah, though parts of the lake extended into present-day Idaho and Nevada. (Its counterpart Lake Lahontan occupied much of northwestern Nevada while extending into California and Oregon.) Formed about 500 million years ago, Lake Bonneville existed until about 14,500 years ago, when a large portion of the lake was released through the Red Rock Pass in Idaho. Following the Bonneville flood, as the release is now known, the lake receded to a level called the Provo Level. Many of the unique geological characteristics of the Great Basin are due to the effects of the lake.

    At more than 1,000 ft (300 m) deep and more than 19,691 square miles (51,000 km2) in area, the lake was nearly as large as Lake Michigan and significantly deeper.
    . With the change in climate, the lake began drying up, leaving Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake, and Little Salt Lake as remnants.

    So what’s going to happen when the Ice age Glacial returns Nevada / Utah start to fill up with water again?

    Folks get all excited about the ice up north. They tend to forget about the changes where the hydrology changes…

    So the interesting question is just the timing on the drought in the Great American Desert vs the Lake Bonneville… Are they in sinc, or anti-sync? Or uncorrelated?

    (Talk about your Climate Change! And no SUV or coal burning involved…)


    Lake Lahontan

    Lake Lahontan was a large endorheic Pleistocene lake of modern northwestern Nevada that extended into northeastern California and southern Oregon. The area of the former lake is a large portion of the Great Basin that borders the Sacramento River watershed to the west.

    The lake derives its name from Louis-Armand de Lom d’Arce de Lahontan, Baron de Lahontan, a French soldier.


    At its peak approximately 12,700 years ago (during a period known as the Sehoo Highstand), the lake had a surface area of over 8,500 square miles (22,000 km2),
    with its largest component centered at the location of the present Carson Sink. The depth of the lake was about 900 feet (270 m) at present day Pyramid Lake, and 500 feet (150 m) at the Black Rock Desert. Lake Lahontan, during this most recent glacial period, would have been one of the largest lakes in North America.

    Climate change around the end of the Pleistocene epoch led to a gradual desiccation of ancient Lake Lahontan. The lake had largely disappeared in its extended form by about 9,000 years ago. As the surface elevation dropped, the lake broke up into series of smaller lakes, most of which rapidly dried up, leaving only a playa. These playas include the Black Rock Desert, the Carson Sink, and the Humboldt Sink. The only modern remnants existing as true lakes are Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake. Winnemucca Lake has been dry since the 1930s and Honey Lake periodically desiccates. The ancient shoreline is evidenced by tufa formations throughout the area.

    Surprisingly, the watershed feeding Lake Lahontan is not thought to have been significantly wetter during its highstand than it is currently. Rather, its desiccation is thought to be mostly due to increase in the evaporation rate as the climate warmed.
    Recent computer simulations (using the DSSAM Model and other techniques) indicate, if precipitation and evaporation rates within the watershed were maintained at their historical yearly maximum and minimum, respectively, and if diversions of the Truckee River ceased, the Ice Age extent of Lake Lahontan might return.

    So want lake front property? Buy some desert dirt in Nevada or Utah and wait for the next glacial…

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    We have existence proof of that theory, we are very close to being able to sustain a growing lake Bonneville again. About every 10- 12 years the land speed races at Bonneville get rained out due to the course never drying out enough to allow racing. In 2014 and 15 there was standing water on the course for all but a few weeks in late June and early July, and the normal dry out in August never happened.

    Same thing happened in the early 1990’s and of course the flooding of 1983 which almost put the airport under water.


    20 – 50 years of precipitation in that class would regrow the old Provo stand lake Bonneville so that a shallow lake extended from the middle of what is now Salt Lake City to the Nevada boarder 114 miles away.

  21. p.g.sharrow says:

    An amazing amount of BS is still included in the above. Not everything but a lot. I used to live in the bottom of one of the “lakes” that is now dry, Lake Surprise, in the north east corner of California to the north of Pyramid Lake area.
    Another lake in northern California that is missed in their science was the one responsible for the moisture plume that flooded the Great Basin. During the volcanism that created the “Devil’s Garden” a lava flow blocked the Pit River to great depth at Fall River. Backed water up to Alturas at the foot of the 8 to 9,000ft Warner Mountains. Evaporation from this lake created an enhancing of the west to east moisture flow. This moisture plume caused very heavy precipitation in the Warner Mountains, the filling of Goose Lake to the west into Oregon and Lake Surprise to the east, both of which added to the accumulation of moisture in the plume into the Great Basin to the south and east. Lake Surprise also over flowed into the Basin by way of the Blackrock/Smoke Creek area and Pyramid. Goose Lake and the Pit River are the real headwaters of the Sacramento River and drain a huge amount of the area. The lake of the Pit only lasted for a few thousand years before it eroded the volcanic dam and drained the area and the Great Basin dried out. Goose Lake is now 50 feet below it’s outlet on the Pit River. Lake Surprise once 15 by 70 miles 450 feet deep is often dry. To the north in Oregon alongside the North Warners is Warner Lake that also fed into the Basin. Today little moisture gets past the Warner Mountains and into the northern Great Basin. This drying out may have taken place as recently as 3,000 years ago.
    Lake Sacramento may well have drained even more recently according to Indian myth…pg

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    There’s a lot that is above your last comment. Perhaps you could narrow down what part you think is the BS part? The Wiki stuff? Nebraska Sand? Whales?…

    BTW, I thought the last recorded occurrence of Lake Sacramento was 1862? Folks had to row around the city. After it dried out they raised the dirt level 14 feet so as to not need boats again…

    Click to access LakeSacramento_book.pdf


    A review of the 19th century history of Northern and Central California indicates there were episodes of widespread flooding. Early records and diaries describe two such episodes:

    The winter of 1826-27, when Jedediah S. Smith passed through California with his trapping party, the water rose so high in the Sacramento Valley that he was driven to the Marysville Buttes for a camping place, which he found teeming with elk, antelope and bear that had also sought refuge there.
    Fariss & Smith.History of Plumas, Lassen & Sierra Counties, California, 1882 (reprint of 1922 edition).Berkeley, CA: Howell-North Books, 1971.

    The second episode occurred six years later:

    John Work in 1832 led a party into California by way of the Pit River, down the Sacramento River, over to the Feather and Yuba Rivers, camping at the Marysville Buttes where he is (sic) marooned by floodwaters. The band of trappers, numbering 100 men, women and children was prevented from proceeding farther south along the slopes of the Sierra foothills by torrential rains and high water. An excursion to the American River resulted in Work’s determination to spend the winter at the Buttes.
    Work, John (1792-1861). Maloney, Alice Bay, ed. Fur Brigade to the Bonaventura: John Work’s California Expedition 1832-33, for The Hudson’s Bay Company. San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1945.

    Another diary entry by Work on Saturday, December 29th states:

    The butte (Sutter Buttes) is almost completely surrounded with water and where there is a little spot of dry ground it is so soft that the horses bog in it. According to the diary, on eleven days during the month of December (prior to the 29th), heavy rain was reported some time during each 24 hour period. No wonder the buttes were almost surrounded by water.

    Somewhere around ’64 ( I was so young I don’t remember the year) my Dad was driving near the Sutter Buttes with me in the car. It was a flood year and all I could see for miles was water, and the road elevated about a foot above it. We had 12 miles to go to get home and my Dad was racing the waters… It had stopped raining so we had hope it would not rise more. We did make it. But I’ve seen that area when the Buttes are about the only dry thing you can see.

    It goes on from there to list many more floods of the following decades.

    a (12 ft. diameter) redwood tree in Richardson Grove indicated there were at least seven major floods in approximately 1200 years. According to Fritz, “These floods added 11 ft. to the elevation of the soil level (since) the time the tree was born.” For more details on Professor Fritz’s redwood tree analysis, see Supplement 2,“Evidence of Record Flood Along the Russian River, January 1862″, and Plate I for location.

    The analysis by Fritz suggests a return period for major floods in the North Coastal Region of California of approximately 170 years. However, he does point out there were additional floods called “high water”, between the major floods, that were large enough to be destructive. We also made a brief analysis of record flooding in the North Coast Region of California. In this analysis we outline why we believe the December 1964 Flood should be labeled the eighth major flood to hit the north coast in approximately 1300 years.

    I know he wants to call 1964 the eighth in that series… but it’s that 170 year period that I find interesting. Very close to the 179 year solar period. Now that 1862 +170 = 2032 or about the point we are supposed to be well into this Grand Solar minimum…


    About pg. 40 he covers mechanism that, interesting to note, needs a loopy jet stream… like we know have again as the sun has gone quiet…

    It’s quite a good read and full of lots of fascinating historical severe weather information not found elsewhere (or there, but not easy to find scattered in old newspapers). I also like their “style”. It reminds me a lot of us Skeptics. Not worried about SJWs or PC.

    Yes! Yes –“Lake Sacramento: Can It Happen Again?” And, yes, we are convinced it will happen again. There is ample evidence cited in this research to support that assertion. Our intent is to cause an increase in public awareness and concern; to inform, but not to alarm, regarding the potential for severe flooding. There are means, although requiring considerable investment of public and private monies, to mitigate the effects of a devastating series of flood events such as those that occurred in December 1861 and January 1862.

    We are scientists and educators, which does not make us unusual because most scientists are eager for their ideas to be subjected to rigorous scientific challenge, and, for the general public to be educated about them. We are confident that our research, by and large, will with stand thoughtful outside review.

    There are several approaches that may be taken in the near future. One is to “shoot the messengers” because of the bad news that has been borne by them.. That won’t work! The messengers already have admitted to being elderly, overweight, and gray haired, and between them they have whipped or are coping with coproporhyria, bladder cancer, fibromyalgia, prostate cancer, Eagle Syndrome and Lyme disease. We each already have one foot resting firmly on “Boot Hill”, thereby considering ourselves immune to personal attack!

  23. p.g.sharrow says:

    As to Lake Sacramento, the flooding of the Great Valley in historic times. There have been several times that there was in fact a Great Lake of the West Coast. The Conquistadors were told by the Aztec of a place far to the north of them that contained great riches of Gold, this place was on islands in an inland sea. While I was very young in the Sacramento area I took note of the bench marks on the El Durado Hills above. The Valley/Lake used to exit by way of the Salinas River before the present outlet was cut. From time to time the north south slippage of faults along the coast has sealed off the valley’s outlet and flooded the valley for an extended time. Anytime that lake fills moisture is pushed over the Sierra into the Great Basin. Climate change may be as much geologic changes as Solar. California is a very active place to live and it is not just political…pg

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    As to Lake Lahonton, rather then a vast lake, it was more an area of lakes with little or no surface connections. or drainage for most of the area.
    I have covered much of the northern part of this area in vehicle, afoot and by air and marveled at it’s topography and geology. today there is even Google mapping to use. Such a wonder! almost as good as being an Eagle that flies over the land…pg

  25. E.M.Smith says:


    I think we’re off from each other by about 1/2 million years… You are talking long term slow geology, I’m talking faster precipitation & hydrology changes.

    Lake Corcoran (also known as Lake Clyde, after Clyde Wahrhaftig, an American geophysicist) is an ancient lake that covered the Central Valley of California.

    The lake existed in the valleys of the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River. An alternate view presumes that the lake covered only the southern parts of the Central Valley. The total surface covered by the lake amounts to about 30,000–50,000 square kilometers (12,000–19,000 sq mi). Buena Vista Lake, Kern Lake and Tulare Lake are remnants of Lake Corcoran.

    The lake is the source of the Corcoran Clay, a lacustrine unit of the Tulare and Turlock Lake formations. It also influenced sedimentation off the coast of California.

    The lake existed between about 758,000 and 665,000 years ago. Clay deposition rates indicate that the lake lasted for 50,000 to 100,000 years.
    The Lava Creek Tuff of Yellowstone Caldera and the Bishop Tuff of the Long Valley Caldera were deposited in the Corcoran Clay. Before Lake Corcoran formed, the Central Valley was a bay open to the south via a passage, until 2 million years ago when the bay was separated from the ocean, probably due to northwestward movement of the Coast Ranges along the San Andreas Fault. Subsequently, the valley was no longer a bay and alternately drained and filled with water. The factors contributing to the formation of Lake Corcoran are not fully understood.

    The lake originally drained into Monterey Bay via the Salinas River, or at times not at all. Evaporation from this lake was a source of water for the Sierra Nevada and in lesser measure for the Basin and Range Province behind it. This contributed to the formation of large pluvial lakes in Nevada.

    600,000 years ago a new outlet formed in the present day San Francisco Bay, where it remains until today. Sediments found south of San Francisco indicate that by 400,000 years ago the drainage was fully established. The overflow may have occurred at a time where glaciers were melting and when shifts in the jet stream during the marine oxygen isotope stage 6 caused increased precipitation in and runoff to the Central Valley. The overflow rapidly carved an outlet through Carquinez Strait, probably catastrophically, and drained the lake. The Upper Turbidite Unit of the Monterey submarine fan may have formed soon after this outflow, when sediment from the former lake was carried out of its new outlet and down to Monterey Bay by longshore drift.

    So that whole Salinas River drainage and massive deep inland lake thing was about 1/2 million years before the last lake Sacramento via flooding events and the waning of Lake Bonneville and Lake Lahonton at the start of the Holocene.

    Now the interesting question out of this is how long it took those Basin Province lakes to dry up. They originally FORMED about while this wet Central Valley was in existence. ( I’m pretty sure there will be enough error band in the earliest dates for both to allow 50,000 to 100,000 years of overlap time between end of Lake Corcoran and start of Basin Province lakes.)

    So there could be the case that a flooded California was needed to form the Basin Province lakes, but once it is full of water, it can persist without a flooded California (at least until some other major shift happens like a very dry Holocene…)

    In which case we could have an oscillator in the lake system. Enough hysteresis on each end such that you only get it to form when the West is really really wet, but it only goes away when things are really really dry… And now that the Carquinez Strait exists, I can’t see the Central Valley losing its drainage again short of some massive volcanism or uplift beyond anything seen before.


  26. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting… We’ve got a 500,000 million year ago probable formation date for Lake Bonneville in Utah, but I can’t get a numeric date for the formation of Lake Lahonton. (though I’ve only looked for a few minutes). Best I can get is a vague reference to it being about the time humans first arrived. (Which is itself disputed a lot).

    Hmmm…. Looks like the two giant lake processes are disjoint. Nevada Lahonton more tied to wet California, Bonneville not so much.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Also interesting that Encyc. Britannica seems clueful about prior climate changes vastly beyond the present AGW Panic.

    I’m going to quote heavily from it just to preserve it against the Global Warming Langolears… I’m bolding some bits that are interesting from a “Natural large changes” POV.


    Holocene climatic trends and chronology

    In the mid-latitudes and the tropics, the end of the last glacial period was marked by a tremendous increase in rainfall. The increased precipitation toward the end of the Pleistocene was marked by a vast proliferation of pluvial lakes in the Great Basin of western North America, notably Lake Bonneville and Lake Lahontan (enormous ancestors of present-day Great Salt Lake and Pyramid Lake). Two peaks of lake levels were reached at about 12,000 ± 500 bp (the beginning of the Allerød Warm stage) and approximately 9000 ± 500 bp (the early Boreal Warm stage). At Lake Balaton (in Hungary) high terrace levels also mark the Allerød and early Boreal Warm stages. Lake Victoria (in East Africa) exhibits the identical twin oscillation in its terrace levels.

    Gee, sounds kind of like “The Great Flood” and “It rained for 40 days and 40 nights”… ;-) Also they note 2 “warm stages”, as opposed to now not being so warm. Then in the next bit, gee, solar variation…

    In equatorial regions the same evidence of high solar radiation and high rainfall at the end of the Pleistocene and during the early Holocene is apparent in the record of the Nile sediments.
    The Nile, like the other great rivers of Africa (notably, the Congo, Niger, and Sénégal), became very reduced, if not totally blocked, by silt and desert sand during the low-precipitation, arid phases of the Pleistocene. An erroneous correlation between glacial phases and pluvial phases in the tropics has been widely accepted in the past, although cold ocean water means less precipitation, not more. The pluvial phases correspond to the high solar radiation states, the last maximum being about 10,000 years ago. Thus tremendous increases of Nile discharge are determined, by radiocarbon dating, to have occurred about 12,000 and 9,000 years ago, separated and followed by alluviation, indicating reduced runoff in the headwaters.

    The expansion of monsoonal rains during the early Holocene in the tropical latitudes permitted an extensive spread of moist savanna-type vegetation over the Sahara in North Africa and the Kalahari in South Africa and in broad areas of Brazil, India, and Australia. Most of these areas had been dry savanna or arid during the last glacial period. Signs of late Paleolithic and Neolithic people can be seen throughout the Sahara today, and art is representative of the life and hunting scenes of the time. Lake deposits have been dated as young as 5000–6000 bp. Lake Chad covered a vast area in the very late Pleistocene and up to 5000 bp. The Dead Sea throughout the early Holocene shows a record of sedimentation from humid headwaters; there was a Neolithic settlement at Jericho about 9000–10,000 bp.

    In the high to mid-latitudes after the early Holocene, with its remnants of ice-age conditions (tundra passing to birch forests), there was a transition to the mid-Holocene, marked by a progressive change to pine forest and then oak, beech, or mixed forest. The mean annual temperature reached 2.5° C above that of today. Neolithic humans pressed forward across Europe and Asia. In the Canadian Arctic and in Manitoba the mean temperature passed 4° C above present averages. It was a “milk-and-honey” period for early humans over much of the world, and in Europe it paved the way for the cultured races of the Bronze Age. Navigators started using the seaways to trade between the eastern Mediterranean, the British Isles, and the Baltic.

    In the mid-latitude continental interiors there was still evidence of hot summers, but the winters were becoming colder and partly drier.
    There was an expansion of steppe or prairie conditions and their associated fauna and flora. Many lake levels showed a fall.

    So it was hotter. Significantly hotter, and that was the time of “milk and honey”, then it started getting colder and dryer… to now.

    Then it goes into detail on some periods (note bce-ce is B.C./A.D.):

    Classical Roman Period

    This time interval is marked by the Florida or Roman emergence in the eustatic record about the bce–ce boundary and succeeded by a transgression.

    The solar record is not complete, but indications are for low activity. Records of rainfall kept by the astronomer Ptolemy (fl. 127–145 ce) in Alexandria noted thunderstorm activity in every summer month, in comparison with the totally dry summer today, which suggests a slightly wetter overall pattern in this latitude.

    In northern Europe and in other high latitudes, in contrast, the cool stage at the beginning of the 1st century ce may have been drier and more continental, as evidenced by dune building.

    Late Roman Period

    After the 1st century ce there is evidence of a progressive rise in sea level. Roman buildings and peat layers were covered by the marine transgression in the Netherlands, southern England, and parts of the Mediterranean. At the same time, drying and warming trends were associated with alluviation of streams and general desiccation in southern Europe and North Africa. Similar alluviation occurred in the American Southwest. This warming and desiccation trend is evident also in the subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere. The solar activity record indicates a mean intensity comparable to that of the mid-20th century.

    Post-Roman and Carolingian Period

    This period extends roughly from 400 to 1000 ce. The important invasions of western Europe by the Huns and the Goths may have been generated by deteriorating climatic conditions in central Asia. Radiocarbon dating and studies of the ancient Chinese literature have disclosed that, when the glaciers of central Asia were large, the meltwaters fed springs, rivers, and lakes on the edge of the desert, and human communities flourished. When there was a warm phase, the water supply failed and the deserts encroached. Thus, in central Asia (and the Tarim Basin) during the cool Roman Period, the Old Silk Road permitted a regular trade between Rome and China, where the Han dynasty was flourishing. During the Ch’in, Wei, and Chou dynasties this trade declined. During the T’ang dynasty (618–907 ce) there was a reopening of the trade routes, and likewise during the Yüan dynasty (1206–1368). Marco Polo passed this way in 1271. Radiocarbon dates of the 8.6-metre-high lake level at Sogo Nur showed overflow conditions from 1300 to 1450, after which gradual, fluctuating, but progressive desiccation followed, and today the area is almost total desert.

    In North America the Post-Roman-Carolingian Period was marked by warm temperatures in the northern parts, with mean paleotemperatures in central Canada about 1° C above the present.
    In the semiarid southwestern United States, the arroyos, washes, and ephemeral river valleys were filling slowly with alluvium (younger “Tsegi alluvium”), an indication that stream energy was generated by the summer flash floods. There were marginal retreats in almost all the mountain glacier regions of the world from the Alps to Patagonia.

    In the tropical region of Central America there was the unexplained decline of the coastal Mayan people (Mexico and Guatemala) about the 10th century. The mountain Mayas continued to flourish, however, and it is possible that the high precipitation of this warming period introduced critical ecological limits to continued occupation of the (now) swampy coastal jungles.

    The Viking-Norman Period

    Approximately 1000–1250 ce the worldwide warm-up that culminated in the 10th century and has been called the early Medieval Warm Period or the “Little Climatic Optimum,” continued for two more centuries, although there was a brief drop in mean solar activity in the period about 1030–70.
    During the 8th to 10th centuries the Vikings had extended as far afield as the Crimean Peninsula and exploited coastal salt pans, the existence of which speak for seasonally high evaporation conditions and eustatic stability.

    In the Arctic regions during the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries there was widespread navigation by the Vikings. Partly in response to reduced sea-ice conditions and milder climates they were able to establish settlements in Iceland, southern Greenland (Erik the Red, c. 985), and in eastern North America (Vinland; Leif Eriksson, c. 1000). In Alaska, from tree-ring evidence, the mean temperature was 2° to 3° C warmer in the 11th century than today.
    Eskimos had settled in Ellesmere Island about 900. Records of sea ice off Iceland show negligible severity from 865 to 1200. Often the westerly storm tracks must have passed north of Europe altogether.

    After a brief interval of cold winters in Japan, the cherry blossoms returned to early blooming in the 12th century. In the semiarid southwestern United States there appears to have been increased precipitation, leading to a spread of vegetation and agriculture. Pueblo campsites dated 1100–1200 are found on top of the youngest Tsegi Alluvium. The snow line in the Rocky Mountains was about 300 metres higher than today. Similar trends are recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, notably in Australia and Chile. The first immigration of Maori peoples into New Zealand probably occurred at this mild time.

    This cool period description gives a lot of clue about what we can look for in our present cooling.

    “Medieval” Cool Period

    This interval, extending roughly from 1250 to 1500, corresponds to the Paria Emergence in the eustatic record and has been called one of the “little ice ages” by certain authors. Solar activity records show a decline from 1250 to 1350, a brief rise from 1350 to 1380, and then a phenomenal low that lasted until 1500. Pollen records in northern Europe reveal rather consistently cool conditions, and smoothed mean temperature curves show a cumulative drop during this period. Stalactite studies in a karst cave in France showed a travertine growth peak (indicating cool, moist conditions) in 1450. In North America cool, moist conditions were widespread at first, becoming dry later. The arroyos and washes became filled with the Naha Alluvium, and the human population decreased markedly. There is pollen evidence of a temperature drop of about 1° C. This is the period of the “Great Drought.” In the upper Mississippi valley the Indian cultures began a general decline, accompanied by a transfer from agriculture to hunting. It was similar in the western prairies, and it was this hunting culture that the first Spanish explorers encountered.

    In the Canadian north the mean temperatures had dropped about two degrees below the previous high. In the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, and Alaska there were glacial readvances, with evidence of a 2° C temperature drop. In the Arctic regions, the Eskimo economy underwent a marked change to adjust to these more extreme conditions, which amounted to about 5° or 6° C below the mean of the climatic optimum.

    The Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned altogether as the permafrost advanced. Pollen studies at Godthåb indicate a shift from a maritime climate to a cold, dry continental regime. The sea ice off Iceland reveals an extraordinary growth in severity, from zero coverage before the year 1200 to eight-week average cover in the 13th century, rising to 40 weeks in the 19th century, and dropping again to eight weeks in the 20th century. In Japan there were glacial readvances and a mean winter temperature drop of 3.5° C. Summers were marked by excessive rains and bad harvests.

    The equatorial regions now began a marked desiccation, with a drop in level of all the great African lakes. The Nile suffered a decreased flow and alluviation.

    South of the equator in the temperate belts there occurred a general return to cooler and wetter conditions that have continued (with oscillations) until the present time in southern Chile, Patagonia, southernmost Africa, southwestern Australia, and New Zealand.

    Little Ice Age

    Throughout most of what is commonly called the Little Ice Age (1500–1850) the mean solar activity was quite low, but positive fluctuations occurred about 1540–90 and 1770–1800. The main westerly storm belts shifted about 500 kilometres to the south
    , and for much of the time the northern latitudes came under cool continental conditions. Observed temperature series in Europe from Paris to Leningrad show large fluctuations until 1850.

    Glacier advances are recorded in the Alps, in the Sierra Nevada, and in Alaska. Corresponding low sea levels are recorded by early tide gauge records in The Netherlands and Germany. Even in equatorial latitudes there are traces of mountain glacier advances (as in the Andes of Colombia).

    The Industrial Age (1850–1950)

    The year 1850 started a brief warming trend that persisted for 100 years. It also approximates a critical turning point in climatic, sea level, glacial, and sedimentologic records. In many regions of central and southern Europe “anthropogenic” sediments (or cultural layers) began to appear in Neolithic times (early to mid-Holocene). Elsewhere in the world (e.g., in North America, Australia, South Africa), however, this type of sedimentation began about the middle of the 19th century, depending on soil erosion stimulated by mechanized (disk) plowing, large-scale deforestation, and engineering activity. Thus, independently of natural climatic change, the century 1850–1950, marked by anthropogenic aridification, proved to be a time of man-made deserts.

    Rhodes W. Fairbridge
    Larry D. Agenbroad

    Now that all matches what I learned in various biological sciences and geology classes over the decades. Natural changes, found in the dirt, and climate changing all by itself; often with a solar variation correlation.

    I suspect just mining the old records of research in those fields, plus old encyclopedias and text books could give a lot of clue as to what is to come.

  28. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; when I was young and observed those Bench marks on the hills above Sacramento, they were pronounced. When in the area last year, 60 years later, they are nearly invisible.
    That would indicate that the last filling and drainage of the Central Valley was quite recent. maybe a few thousand years, not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years ago.
    The Lake Sacramento flooding of the last 300 years were weather events that flooded the Valley to about the 50 foot elevation above sea level. This took several months to drain out. Serious movement along the Hayward fault could block that drainage for quite some time. Evaporation in normal rain fall years will exceed the inflow when the valley is flooded to about Chico, 70 feet elevation. Mare Island in the River outlet into the Bay is the alluvial fan created during the last wash out of the blockage during the last sea level high point. 3000 years ago ? The Great Central Valley has been a Great Lake many times over the last few million years. The last time was not so long ago…pg

  29. philjourdan says:

    “I suspect just mining the old records of research in those fields, plus old encyclopedias and text books could give a lot of clue as to what is to come.”

    Good thing Connolley cannot edit Britannica. But I guess in the internet age, old tomes are taboo.

  30. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting discussion of mass balance of Rocky Mountain National Park glaciers and the many factors that control their growth. Some are controlled by build up of wind blown snow from adjacent accumulation areas, others by timing of spring snows (fresh white snow in spring slows ablation due to sun exposure, vs dirty snow crust when spring snows are missing)

    Click to access 7744fca813f041c37ac0b77a499a79caf6b9.pdf

    I think the important takeaway from all this indirect geophysical evidence is that climate is not nearly as stable at the global warming community would like people to believe and undergoes rather substantial periodic changes over short millennial time scales. Lakes appear and flourish as an ecosystem for a couple thousand years than in just a few hundred years changes to a marsh land then flat valley floor highly favorable to agriculture. Streams swell and then dry up to trickles, snow fields and glaciers are dominant for a century or more than rapidly retreat only to advance decades later.

    Too bad students are not required to take physical geography classes where this sort of long term historical tracking of climatic impacts could be taught.

    Historic changes in Arapaho Glacier over the last century.

    Photographic time lapse of Arapaho glacier over the last century

    Recent history of these glaciers over the last 3 millennia or so, shows at least 3 different advance and retreat cycles

    Dating of Indian Peak Glacier advances using
    lichenometry from growth of Lichen on glacial debris

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    For timing on the glacial advances in Rocky Mountain park the glacial high stands of the Arikaree advance in the above link are placed at about AD 250, The second at AD 550 and the most recent at AD 950.

    Lichen dates on bedrock immediately down-valley from Gannett Peak moraines show that Arikaree ice had retreated into the cirques and probably had disappeared completely by A.D. 1050.

    The above shows that century long ice retreats are not uncommon in this area, as the most recent century long retreat of Arapaho glacier appears to have been similar to the Gannett Peak retreat from A.D. 950 to A.D. 1050

    At least two, and perhaps as many as four, periods of expanded snow cover occurred during the Temple Lake Stade.

    Lichen measurements (Fig. 3) indicate that the youngest Temple Lake moraines in the area were deposited in about 900 B.C. Radiocarbon dates of 410 ± I20 and 610 ± l00 B.C. (1-2424 and 1-2469) give a minimum age for the disappearance of late Temple Lake ice from the floor of the valley draining the present Arapaho Glacier (Benedict, 1967), and a radio-carbon date of 520± 110 B.C. (1-1792) dates the beginning of A-horizon development on a nearby slope that was covered with perennial snow during Temple Lake time (Benedict, 1966) .

    An age of about 700 B.C. therefore seems reasonable for the shift from glacial to non-glacial conditions that brought the Temple Lake Stade of Little Ice Age glaciation to a close.

  32. R. de Haan says:

    The big Elephant in the room involving extinctions based on the Darwin Principles is the fact that the Dinausaurs that according to connventional science and wisdom have been wiped from the face of the earth 65 million years ago due to a comet impact wouldn’t be able to live on our planet today due to a change in gravity which by conventional science and wisdom today is pushed as an Universal Gravity Standard that must explain all that happens in the universe from black holes to pulsars and degradates solid iron astroids and comets to the level of “dirty snow balls” to explain their tails. We really have to start thinking out of the box like the Electric Universe guys are doing. If fluctuations in gravity caused the extinctions of the dino’s it would explain why the land living ancestors of the wales mutated back into sea living animals again and why a little mouse like mamal could become the predecessor of human kind. We still have a lot to take into account and a lot to learn.

    I gave the curren President of Panama a call if he would be prepared to give up his country to prevent the next ice age and he wasn’t very enthousiastic about that idea. Looking at Ice Age temperature reconstructions Panama and Alska are the only “warm” places left so it will be crowded there. LOL

  33. R. de Haan says:

  34. R. de Haan says:

    And there is still the unanswered explanation for the extinction of the Mega Fauna that roamed the planet untill 13.800 years ago.

  35. R. de Haan says:

    The fact is that we are still wrestling with the question “What’s Gravity”.

  36. R. de Haan says:

  37. R. de Haan says:

  38. R. de Haan says:

    Fooling around with gravity

    One day….

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    It isn’t gravity. It’s done with magnets:

    Pretty simple really.


    There are a very large number of Great Mysteries that evaporate on closer inspection and without need for rewriting physics. Such as megafauna extinction in 13000 BP. All it takes is a rock into the ice sheet of Canada. All the needed indications are there for it to have happened.

    And that, in a nutshell, is my complaint about the electric universe folks. They try to explain all sorts of things with it that need no exotic explanation. That’s something carnival barkers exploit. Real Science ™ works in the opposite direction. Occam’s Razor first and above all, extraordinary claims needing extraordinary evidence.

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    Per dinosaur “problems”:

    In general, when someone says “It can’t be” about nature, I look for the bogus part of their assumptions. Things like “It would take sooooo much muscle to hold that neck up”. Well, that’s assuming it was done with muscles. Note the spines on the backbone. There were major ligaments from those spines making a suspension system (rather like we use on very long bridges today). So they may well have had necks less flexible than ours with less range of motion, but well suited for the motions they needed.

    Similarly, the “let’s use a human weight lifter for our max standard” assumption that all muscles are more or less the same. Unfortunately, they are not. Humans are, in fact, often the weaklings on a power / lb basis. Even if you look at our closest living relative, the chimp, that has something like 98% identical DNA; it is stronger / lb that we are. I’ve heard 4 x many times, but this article only says 1.5 x. Still, a 50% bump in an almost identical critter is indicative of a large potential range.


    Humans may have big, bulbous brains, but when it comes to pure muscle power, we’re often considered the weakest of the great apes. Even chimpanzees, who are significantly smaller than us, exhibit levels of strength that are practically super-human by our standards. New research shows the degree to which our primate cousins are stronger than us—and why their tiny bodies pack such an impressive punch.

    Pound-for-pound, chimpanzees are 1.5 times stronger than humans at pulling and jumping tasks, according to new research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This strength is not the result of the chimpanzee’s physical form, its range of motion, or a newly-discovered dedication to bench presses and deadlifts, but instead, the product of how the fibers in chimp muscles are distributed.
    Because chimpanzees are our closest-living primate relative, these findings are offering new insights into human evolution—and why’re we’re such weaklings.

    Scientists have known about chimpanzee strength for quite some time now, documenting feats of “super strength” in both wild and captive chimps. Researchers have used pulling and jumping experiments to compare chimpanzee and human muscle strength since the 1920s, but they’ve struggled to understand the physiological and mechanical reasons behind the observed differences.

    In 2014, researchers discovered that chimp muscle feature unique properties that affect their power-producing capabilities. The new PNAS study, led by Matthew O’Neill from the University of Arizona, piggybacks off this prior research, taking a closer look the actual biology and mechanics of chimpanzee muscle tissue, and comparing muscle strength in humans and chimps.

    “Our work is the first detailed study of the biology and mechanics of chimpanzee muscle tissue,” O’Neill told Gizmodo. “Our results show that the main difference between chimpanzee and human muscle is in fiber distribution, with chimpanzees having a much higher fraction of fast fibers than humans, on average,” adding that “all of our measurements of chimpanzee muscle are new.” For the study, muscle fibers were sampled from three young male chimps.

    Now that doesn’t even involve any new kind of muscle genetics or fiber types. Just more or less of two kinds of muscle fibers we already have.

    What kind and what proportion of muscle fibers were in animals 100 Million years ago? I’ll wait….

    dum dum de dum… tweedle de de… de dum dum…

    Yeah, nobody knows. We can GUESS it’s kind of like birds. Yet even there the strength of a Canadian Goose that flies at 35,000 feet where people would simply die, or even little humming birds that fly a few thousand miles every year just to nest where it’s nicer; well, not many people could walk back and forth between Oregon and Costa Rica twice a year… So I’d speculate that birds have better muscles and better breathing apparatus to support them for intensive activity. To the extent that’s true, and representative of dinosaurs, I’m not seeing a problem with Dino-physiology.

    BTW, note that an ostrich, with head / neck proportions rather like a lot of dinosaurs, doesn’t seem to be having much of a problem holding it’s neck out. Nor much problem running as fast as a car on a drumstick about the size of a weight lifter’s forearm.

    I’m pretty sure the dinosaurs were just tough strong old birds, rather like the ones running around today, but with teeth.

    Now again, this fits the same mode as my general complaint about the Electric Universe folks. There’s just no need to run off to variable gravity land to explain dinosaurs as long as a little bit of different muscle fiber and some real world examples that are NOT human and closer to them are used for your “thought experiments”.

    The “special pleading” by “this unrelated species looks limited therefor that other unrelated species MUST NOT BE ABLE” is just wrong. By that reasoning no land animal can exist because fish die out of water, and no bugs can survive radiation because humans, birds, and bats can’t. Yet we know that land animals exist and bugs are less bothered by radiation and survive while we cook.

    So first look for simpler closer to home explanations for things before leaping off the cliff of changing fundamental forces… Even if it is “No Fun”. ;-)

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    On the topic of climate change, ocean currents, atmospheric moisture etc, we may have a new national record for 24 hour rainfall from Hawaii.


  42. E.M.Smith says:

    Yeah, that wet period is what I expected. 30 years of deep ocean warming with high UV levels, now turned to 30 years of evaporative cooling with both deeper water dumping heat as it gets pulled to the surface by higher winds, plus sunlight as IR causing more prompt evaporation.

    This ought to continue for the next decade or two… until eventually the top couple hundred feet of the ocean have lost the excess heat from the high solar cycles. Then we ought to go really cold AND dry…

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