Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ Category

Some guys have trouble remembering just what happened during their bachelor party, but a group of men on a recent stag send-off in New Mexico aren’t likely to forget their celebration very soon — since they stumbled upon a perfectly preserved three-million-year-old mastodon skull.

The party was on a hike in Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Albuquerque when they saw a bone jutting one to two inches from the sand. They started digging and uncovered the enormous skull. Their first thought was it could be the remains of a woolly mammoth so they snapped photos and sent them to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Scientists there made the identification — it wasn’t a woolly mammoth, but, in fact, a much more exciting find. The skull belonged to a stegomastodon — a prehistoric ancestor of the woolly mammoth — as well as today’s elephants. The massive animal stood about 9 feet tall, weighed six tons and walked the Earth during the Ice Age, according to Gary Morgan, a paleontologist at the museum who analyzed the fossil. He estimates the animal was about 50 years old when it died on a sandbar of the ancient Rio Grande River.

The family of mastodons migrated to North America around 15 million years ago and died out around 10,000 years ago.

“This is far and away the best one we’ve ever found,” said Morgan about the bachelor party’s discovery.

Scientists, following up on the party’s tip, went to the site and sealed the skull, which weighed more than 1,000 pounds, in a cast. It was transported to the museum, where it will eventually will be placed on display.

Antonia Gradillas, 33, was among the men who made the original discovery. He said, “This is the coolest thing ever. Some people with PhDs in this field might not even have this kind of opportunity. We were so lucky.”

Thanks to Dr. Rajadhyaksha for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/paleontology/bachelor-party-finds-mastedon-skull-140616.htm

Video game archaeologists have found a cache of Atari games that were buried in the New Mexico desert 30 years ago.

Before now reports Atari had dumped millions of game cartridges were widely believed to be an urban myth.

But a three-hour dig at a landfill site turned up many Atari cartridges, including copies of the game ET: The Extra Terrestrial.

Atari made millions of copies of the ET game, but it sold poorly and helped to contribute to the demise of the firm.

“For a lot of people, it’s something that they’ve wondered about and it’s been rumoured and talked about for 30 years, and they just want an answer,” said Zak Penn, director of a documentary being made about the search for the site and its uncovering.

The documentary by Fuel Entertainment is being prepared for Microsoft’s Xbox TV channel.

Cash crunch

Atari was thought to have dumped truckloads of unsold games in the landfill site on the outskirts of Alamogordo in 1983 as the company was winding down.

The game maker’s descent from its position as the dominant force in home gaming in the late 1970s and early 1980s was swift and has been partly blamed on the gamble it took on making a game of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit film ET.

The game was made from scratch in five weeks for the Atari 2600 console. Even before the game was finished Atari, committed huge amounts of money and resources to it and produced millions of copies when it was done.

The ET game has been described as one of the worst ever created. Its challenging game play and poor graphics put people off buying it and left Atari with huge amounts of unsold inventory.

The search to see if the rumours about the dump were true was given new life by the efforts of one unnamed game enthusiast who did the detective work to narrow down its location.

Red tape surrounding the uncovering of the landfill site held up the start of the dig but once permission was granted excavations began on 26 April.

Three hours of digging with a backhoe uncovered significant amounts of Atari 2600 game cartridges – many of which were still in their original packaging.

Only a limited amount of material could be retrieved from the dump because the dig was only allowed access for one day. The local authority of Alamogordo ordered the dig site to be refilled on 27 April.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27187609

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

This is not a scene from a sci-fi special effects movie. The green beam of light and red lunar disk are real enough, captured in the early morning hours of April 15. Of course, the reddened lunar disk is easy to explain as the image was taken during this week’s total lunar eclipse. Immersed in shadow, the eclipsed Moon reflects the dimmed reddened light of all the sunsets and sunrises filtering around the edges of planet Earth, seen in silhouette from a lunar perspective. But the green beam of light really is a laser. Shot from the 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico, the beam’s path is revealed as Earth’s atmosphere scatters some of the intense laser light. The laser’s target is the Apollo 15 retroreflector, left on the Moon by the astronauts in 1971. By determining the light travel time delay of the returning laser pulse, the experimental team from UC San Diego is able to measure the Earth-Moon distance to millimeter precision and provide a test of General Relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity. Conducting the lunar laser ranging experiment during a total eclipse uses the Earth like a cosmic light switch. With direct sunlight blocked, the reflector’s performance is improved over performance when illuminated by sunlight during a normal Full Moon, an effect fondly known as The Full Moon Curse.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140418.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.


Peanut butter dumped in New Mexico landfill after Costco refuses to sell it or let it be donated. The dumped peanut butter was deemed safe even though it came from the Sunland plant linked to a 2012 salmonella outbreak.

Nearly a million jars of peanut butter were dumped at a New Mexico landfill this week to expedite the sale of a bankrupt peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.

Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said he had no other choice after Costco Wholesale refused to take shipment of the Sunland Inc. product and declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food to institutions like prisons.

“We considered all options,” Coll said. “They didn’t agree.”

Melinda Joy Pattison, executive director of the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, on Friday called the dumping of the peanut butter “horrendous.” She said as long as there was nothing wrong with the peanut butter, her operation would have found a way to store it, remove the labels and distribute it to the people who depend on the food bank.

“Those trucks carrying it to the dump went right by the front door of my food bank,” she said. “It wasn’t like it would have been out of the way.”

Pattison said peanut butter is a major source of protein and a staple for hungry people. Her food bank places single-serve peanut butter cups in packages it gives to children whose parents rely on its services.

“For it to just be deliberately thrown away is disappointing,” she said.

Costco officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment. But court filings indicate the product was made with $2.8 million worth of Valencia peanuts owned by Costco and had been sitting in the warehouse since the company shut down and filed for bankruptcy last fall.

After extensive testing, Costco agreed to a court order authorizing the trustee to sell it the peanut butter. But after getting eight loads, Costco rejected it as “not merchantable” because of leaky peanut oil.

Coll said “all parties agreed there’s nothing wrong with the peanut butter from a health and safety issue,” but court records show that on a March 19 conference call Costco said “it would not agree to any disposition … other than destruction.”

So instead of selling or donating the peanut butter, with a value estimated at $2.6 million, the estate paid about $60,000 to haul the 950,000 jars of nut butter — or about 25 tons — to the Curry County landfill in Clovis, where public works director Clint Bunch says it “will go in with our regular waste and covered with dirt.”

The last of 58 truckloads was expected Friday, the same day Golden Boy Foods of Canada was to close on its $26 million purchase of the plant.

Sunland made peanut butter under a number of different labels for retailers like Costco, Kroger and Trader Joe’s, along with products under its own name. But the plant was shut down in September 2012 after its products were linked to 41 salmonella cases in 20 states.

It later reopened for about five months, but shut down last October after the company’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

Sunland processed Valencia peanuts, a sweet variety of peanut unique to the region and preferred for natural butters because it is flavorful without additives.

Sonya Warwick, spokeswoman for New Mexico’s largest food bank, declined to comment directly on the situation, but she noted that rescued food accounted for 74 percent of what Roadrunner Food Bank distributed across New Mexico last year.

“Our fleet picks up rescued food from hundreds of locations weekly and brings it back to the food bank,” she said. “Before distributing it, volunteers help label, sort or repack it for distribution to partner agencies across the state.

“Access to rescued food allows us to provide a more well-rounded and balanced meal to New Mexicans experiencing hunger.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0328/Peanut-butter-dumped-in-landfill.-Costco-blamed