Last week I shared a story of one type of technology –– in this case a drone –– helped researchers discover an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon. Today, we have this story about a completely different type of technology that is allowing scientists to fill in the blank spots on the map and discover places that we didn’t even know existed before. This time out however it was Google Earth that revealed hidden wonders.
According to this story from The Verge, a Welsh researcher by the name of Dr. Julian Bayliss used Google Earth to locate a high-altitude rainforest found in a remote region of Mozambique. This forest is special because it sits inside a collapsed caldera of a volcano called Mount Lico and has remained untouched by man for thousands of years. In other words, it is a completely hidden world that Bayliss was sure had many secrets to share.
Earlier this year, Bayliss led a 28-person research team made of scientists, climbers, and filmmakers into this lost world to see what they could find. Just getting to the mountain was a challenge, with the crew having to pass through dense forests without roads, settlements, or much in the way of modern conveniences. Once there, they still had to scale Lico’s near vertical walls, which rose 700 meters (2296 ft) above the jungle, just to get to the rim of the crater. On the other side, they would have to rappel back down to being their exploration of the interior.
The “dream team” of explorers included two expert climbers, a dizzying array of scientists, including three from Mozambique, a chef, a small support staff, and others. The squad spent two weeks on Lico in May, uncovering potentially new species and exploring a place that had remained out of reach. Well, at least seemingly out of reach. While no one is aware of any other humans ever going up the mountain, the team did find ancient pots buried in the ground. How they got there and how long they were buried remains a mystery, as does how anyone could have scaled the outer walls of the volcano without sophisticated climbing equipment.
Bayliss and his team are now studying the species that they found inside of Lico to determine if they are newly discovered. Those creatures includes toads, snakes, shrews, frogs, and other creatures. There was even a new flowering planet that was unfamiliar to the botanists who were part of the team, indicating that the lost world they had entered may have revealed many of its secrets.
In the Verge article linked to above, many members of the exploration team are interviewed and share their story. It’s a pretty fascinating read to say the least. It seems modern exploration is alive and well, and there are still some really amazing places to be yet uncovered.
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