New report finds weird things lurking in the desert

Pulp authors prose proves prescient

New report finds weird things lurking in the desert
Photo by Giorgio Parravicini / Unsplash

They call it the "Empty Quarter" for a reason...

The TENTACLII blog reports on an article in this month's (August 2021) issue of New Scientist:

Many of the researchers who work [in the Arabian desert] were told not to bother because “there was no prehistory in Arabia” and were even laughed at. Those researchers are getting the last laugh.

The desert once was green

A mere 8000 years ago, it was wet enough for there to have been many lakes. The same was true at intervals throughout the past million years, when rivers criss-crossed Arabia, forming green corridors where lush vegetation and wildlife flourished amid the sand dunes. For much of recent geological time, the peninsula was at least partly green.

New Scientist (Paywall)

The world as we know it seems unchanging. That forest near where you grew up, the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, they all feel permanent.

That's all a snapshot. Not even a blink of the cosmic eye.

That's all an illusion. Time changes everything.

Imagine watching the history of the Arabian peninsula on fast-forward.

Green explodes across it as forests take hold and rivers cut new paths.

Cut.

The green fades to brown, the rivers vanish into sand, and the lush forests turn to dust as the desert returns.

Repeat a dozen times over the course of a million years.

Time is terrifying.


Dead things sleep eternal under the sands

Arabia’s verdant past is no mere factoid: it suggests that the region was habitable at times in the distant past. That realisation has prompted archaeologists to start looking for evidence of occupation by humans, their ancestors and their extinct relatives. In just a decade, they have found countless sites where these hominins lived, stretching hundreds of thousands of years into the past.

If that won't put a chill in your blood I don't know what will.

Hundreds of thousands of years.

It's all dust now. Buried relics and broken ruins hidden under the scorching desert.

What could have lived there once, in those dark eons before our species learned how to speak?


We still don't have the first idea of what really happened in our distant past

Lots of theories, backed up by fossils and ruins and such.

But how much can you really say when the changing Earth itself collaborates with Time to hide the evidence?

Lovecraft was right, indeed.

Science is at its best when it gives us a better quality of ignorance...

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