Lost World
© redOrbit

Communities of anthropologists throughout the world are buzzing with excitement as researchers in U.S. and Canada have reported finding an unusual wooden pole at the bottom of Lake Huron, leading to speculation that they may have stumbled upon artifacts from a "lost world" of previously unknown ancient North American caribou hunters.

Experts believe that this prehistoric nomadic people may have had a "kill site" in the U.S.-Canada border region some 10,000 years ago, making them some of the earliest human inhabitants of the North America.

Now submerged beneath over a hundred feet of water, researchers believe that the 100-mile long Alpena-Amberley Ridge was deluged by glacial melt at the end of the last Ice Age in what is now Lake Huron. Scientists first began theorizing that the site may have been a prehistoric hunting ground after researchers discovered a system of man-made rock features that appear to have been used to herd together migrating caribou into narrow channels, thus making them easy prey for the spear-hunting natives to take down.

A number of extant Inuit hunters in Northern Canada still use these so-called "drive lanes" to bottle-neck and hunt migrating herds of caribou. Additional clusters of boulders were also found alongside the narrow rock channels. Experts suspect that these may have been used to conceal the hunters from passing caribou.

The most recent find, a roughly 6-foot-long wooden pole, further corroborates the theory about the origin of the stone structures. The artifact has been dated to about 8,900 years ago, and scientists working on the project say there's little doubt about what its intended use was.

"The first thing you notice is that it appears to have been shaped with a rounded base and a pointed tip," said anthropologist John O'Shea of the University of Michigan in a summary of his team's research.

"There's also a bevel on one side that looks unnatural, like it had to have been created. It looks like it might have been used as a tent pole or a pole to hang meat."

Mr. O'Shea's colleague at the University of Michigan, marine engineer Guy Meadows, told reporters last March that the Lake Huron rock formations provided "promising" but not conclusive evidence of a prehistoric community.

At the time, he noted that researchers "really want to produce an artifact, and not just these rock structures that look very promising. [...] But the area is obviously enormous - it's a proverbial needle-in-a-haystack problem."

Yet the researchers appear to have found their oversized needle, which is currently undergoing detailed examination to look for evidence of definitively human modifications.

The team has also enlisted the help of paleo-ecologists to search the underwater sites for chips of stone known as "microdebitage" that are often found at ancient archeological sites. Meadows and O'Shea are also collaborating with a team of computer scientists from Wayne State University to construct a digital, 3D virtual model of the ridge.