Planet Earth: Unexplored Regions of Earth Part 1

About the unexplored regions of the planet Earth, including an investigation of Baja for fossil remains, history of exploration.

UNEXPLORED EARTH

Although they have been photographed from the air, there are still a few regions of our planet that have never been penetrated by man. These include, for example, regions of the central mountains of New Guinea, parts of the Amazon and African jungles, the Greenland ice cap, Antarctica, and northwest Siberia. They are quite remote, virtually inaccessible for close examination by man.

Although aircraft (particularly helicopters), snowmobiles, jeeps and other off-road vehicles have made many areas more accessible, methods of exploration still require the use of dog teams in Arctic regions, camels in the desert, and even shanks' mare in many areas. Mapmakers continue to be key figures in exploration today, and the modern surveyor has sophisticated equipment to enable him to measure longitude more easily than the early explorers could do it.

In the past century, many explorers were men carrying the flags of their countries with the objective of claiming the territory they discovered, particularly in the Antarctic. Today scientific work is the main goal of exploration. Much of it is done in slow stages--by examining rocks, collecting specimens found in various areas, and gradually forming a picture of life on earth in the past and the present.

In the late summer of 1974, a joint American-Mexican team of investigators found a series of major fossil beds that yielded the remains of giant tortoises, primitive horses, camels, whales, and sharks at some 18 sites in about a 350-mi. stretch between Santa Rosalia and Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. Some of the remains date back 60 million years. Although the exact age of the fossil bones had not yet been determined and no human bones had been found, authorities said there was reason to believe that some of the beds will eventually turn up evidence of man. There were flakes and chips of obsidian and flint scattered throughout the sites. If these artifacts prove to be as old as the geological layers in which they were found would seem to indicate, it will strengthen the theory of scholars who claim that man entered the New World 50,000 or even 100,000 years ago. The majority view has been that migration occurred only 20,000 to 25,000 years ago. The Baja investigation was funded by the National Geographic Society.

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