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Project Recover

Two B-25 Bombers That Went Missing in World War II Have Been Found

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Project Recover

The remains of two B-25 bombers that disappeared from the skies over 70 years ago have been located in the waters off Papua New Guinea. IFL Science reports that the planes were discovered by Project Recover, an organization dedicated to tracking down U.S. aircraft that crashed into the sea during World War II.

World War II planes have been recovered from lakes and backyards, but finding decades-old wreckage at the bottom of the Pacific poses more of a challenge. The team of marine scientists and archaeologists at Project Recover uses aquatic robots, sonar scans, thermal cameras, manned dives, and historic data to pinpoint the underwater resting places of World War II soldiers around the globe.

One resource was particularly helpful in this case: the first-hand accounts of long-time residents of a seaside village in Papua New Guinea. After speaking with people in the town, the team narrowed down their search area and eventually came across the wrecks off the island’s coast.

During its heyday the B-25 was one of the most formidable bombers in the skies, with a bombing capacity of 5000 pounds. They were a common sight over that region of the Pacific between January 1942 and August 1945. The two recently discovered artifacts are among the planes that never returned home.

According to military records, one of the planes carried six crew members: five who became prisoners of war in Japan and one who perished in the accident. Today, the coral-covered B-25s blend in with the sea floor, making them easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. “People have this mental image of an airplane resting intact on the sea floor, but the reality is that most planes were often already damaged before crashing, or broke up upon impact,” Katy O’Connell, Project Recover’s Executive Director, said in a statement.

After documenting the wreck site, Project Recover plans to return to the area later this year in pursuit of more leads.

Underwater wreckage of World War II B-25 bomber plane.

Underwater wreckage of World War II B-25 bomber plane.

Underwater wreckage of World War II B-25 bomber plane.

[h/t IFL Science]

All images courtesy of Project Recover

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Dave Einsel, Stringer, Getty Images
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
9.7-Million-Year-Old Teeth Discovered in Germany Have Scientists Puzzled
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Dave Einsel, Stringer, Getty Images

Scientists in Germany say they've found ape teeth that are surprisingly similar to the teeth of an early human relative dating to millions of years later. As the Independent reports, the team of experts unearthed a pair of 9.7-million-year-old fossilized teeth that, they say, have some of the same features as the teeth of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum in Mainz found the fossils a year ago in nearby Eppelsheim but have waited until now to publish their findings—partly because they weren't sure what to make of the puzzling discovery. Of the two teeth, a canine and a molar, the canine tooth bears a striking resemble to that from "Lucy," one of the first known ancient human relatives to walk upright, who lived in Africa some 3.2 million years ago.

"They are clearly ape teeth," researcher Herbert Lutz told local media in a press conference. "Their characteristics resemble African finds that are four to five million years younger than the fossils excavated in Eppelsheim. This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery."

They dated the fossils using the remains of an extinct horse which was found buried in the same spot. In their paper, the scientists describe the canine’s similarities to other remains found in the lower half of the globe, but they still don't have answers to many of the questions the report raises. They plan to continue examining the teeth for clues. The public will also have a chance to see the teeth for themselves, first at a state exhibition this month, and then at Mainz's Natural History Museum.

[h/t Independent]

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Divers in Michigan Discover 93-Year-Old Shipwreck at the Bottom of Lake Huron
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iStock

On the evening of September 21, 1924, the cargo steamship SS Clifton met its end in Lake Huron while carrying a 2200-ton load of crushed stone from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to Detroit. The vessel was likely caused to sink by a gale, and the disaster resulted in the deaths of 25 crew members. Bits of wreckage were later found, but the freighter’s resting place ultimately remained a mystery. Now, more than 90 years later, the Associated Press reports that the SS Clifton’s location at the bottom of the Great Lake has been confirmed.

Scuba diver David Trotter—who’s reportedly located more than 90 Great Lakes shipwrecks—discovered the SS Clifton in September 2016, following a 30-year search. He waited to publicly share the news until his company, Undersea Research Associates, was able to investigate and document the steamship's remains last summer.

Trotter had spent decades searching for the SS Clifton, but finding it was ultimately a matter of serendipity, he says. In June 2016, Trotter and his team were surveying two wrecks—the schooners Venus and Minnedosa, which sank in 1887 and 1905, respectively—when they spotted yet another submerged ship. They logged its coordinates, but only managed to get a closer look several months later, in September 2016, during a quick dive trip.

GoPro footage confirmed that the ship in question was a whaleback steamer, a unique type of 19th century cargo steamship with low, rounded hulls, decks, and deckhouses, which were designed to cut down on water and wind resistance. “The Clifton was the only whaleback ship left in Lake Huron that hadn’t already been found,” Trotter said, according to WZZM-TV. “There was no question we had found the Clifton.”

The USS Clifton sits on its side, around 100 miles south of where some shipwreck hunters initially believed it had sunk. Its bow is shattered, likely from the collision with the lake’s bottom, while the stern, inside paneling, and architecture remain well-preserved. Divers also spotted an unopened suitcase, and signage inside the ship.

So far, there isn't any clear mechanical evidence as to why the USS Clifton sank, but Trotter's team did find “that the self-unloading mechanism was still in position,” he says. This was “an interesting discovery because we now realize that the unloading mechanism didn’t break free, causing the Clifton to have instability, resulting in her sinking.”

Trotter hopes to explore the USS Clifton’s engine room and cabins, and to bring the suitcase ashore to examine its contents. Until then, he can remain satisfied that he’s finally solved a mystery that had eluded him for much of his career.

[h/t Associated Press]

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