By Joel Acenbach | October 19, 2015
Sawmill Sink is a challenging place to dive. It’s a flooded sinkhole on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. Below 30 feet is a layer of opaque water saturated in poisonous, acidic hydrogen sulfide. But in 2004, a retired military diver named Brian Kakuk figured out how to penetrate the murk and dive into the lightless depths of the hole. Along ledges, he found a trove of bones, including those of dozens of animal species that have vanished from the island of Abaco and, in many cases, become extinct altogether.
A new report in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science describes the discovery, and the authors believe it has implications for one of the great mysteries in science — the wave of extinctions in the Americas at the end of the Pleistocene as the climate changed, and human beings arrived. It may also help us think about our present and future impact on an increasingly stressed biosphere.
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