Home  •  Forum  •  Blogs  •  E-Mail  •  Support Categories
MyBasicISP Categories Finance Travel Real Estate Games Autos Entertainment
How do we Love?

A Dinosaur Death Match

As it darted across the sand dunes, the velociraptor was hungry. The deserts of Mongolia were a harsh environment during the Upper (Late) Cretaceous, with small herds of dinosaurs eking out an existence around gradually evaporating ponds refreshed by seasonal flooding. Seasonal clouds still hung in the air as the velociraptor navigated the now treacherously sodden landscape. It was small and birdlike, not much bigger than a turkey, with a vicious, curved claw on the second toe of each foot. Its feathers moved in the breeze.

The velociraptor was heading into the territory of a protoceratops, a medium-sized herbivore with a ridged head, like a small triceratops without the horns. From other fossils, we know that protoceratops was a good source of food for Mongolian velociraptors. The small carnivores stole eggs, scavenged protoceratops corpses, and probably hunted them as well. Perhaps our velociraptor attacked the protoceratops, or perhaps the territorial protoceratops charged the raptor as it scavenged for eggs. Either way, they fought.

It was a brutal battle. The protoceratops threw the raptor to the ground and caught the predator’s right arm in its jaws, biting down hard enough to break it. Shrieking in pain, the raptor desperately seized the herbivore’s head with its left arm. Bringing up its deadly toe-claw, it slashed into the protoceratops’s neck, probably severing an important blood vessel.

There are competing theories as to what happened next. Most likely, a nearby sand dune, soaked through by the torrential rain, collapsed and buried the combatants as they struggled together. Such dune collapses were common after rains in the area, helping to make Mongolia one of the richest sites for fossil-hunting. Another theory suggests that the raptor was unable to free itself from beneath the dead protoceratops and starved to death, with the pair being covered by a later dune collapse or sandstorm. Either way, the fossils of the two ancient enemies were uncovered in 1971, frozen in combat for 80 million years.


A Druid’s Deadly Game


In 1984, a worker cutting peat near Manchester Airport tried to pick up a lump of soil and realized he was holding a human foot. He had discovered Lindow Man, one of the most perfectly preserved “bog bodies” in British history. Thanks to extensive study, we now know a great deal about Lindow Man, including the dramatic details of his last day.

Lindow Man died around 2,000 years ago, deep in Celtic Britain. He was young (30 or younger) and handsome. His hands were perfectly manicured, and he was well-nourished, suggesting that he was a man of wealth or power. 

He had no old scars or injuries, so he probably wasn’t a fighter. Unlike Celtic warriors, who sported only mustaches, Lindow Man had a full beard of red hair. Historians think he was a druid, a priest of the ancient Celts.

On the day he died, Lindow Man and his fellow druids played a game. A thin, flat

barley cake was cooked over a griddle, with one end allowed to burn until it was black. The druids then broke the cake into pieces and hid them inside a leather bag. They passed the bag around, each taking a piece and eating it. Lindow Man drew the burned one. It was still in his stomach 30 minutes later, when they sacrificed him.

The use of a “burned bannock” to choose a sacrificial victim is referenced in Celtic lore, but Lindow Man’s stomach contents were the first solid evidence for its historical use. Was Lindow Man dismayed when he drew the burned piece? If so, he didn’t show it. Analysis of his facial muscles indicate that he went to his death with an expression of calm serenity, outwardly willing to die for the gods. He was naked except for a strip of fox fur around his left arm. 

To propitiate three gods at once, his fellow druids subjected him to the so-called “Triple Sacrifice.” For Tarainis, they smashed his skull in. For Esus, they strangled him with a cord and cut open his windpipe. And for Teuttates, they drowned him in the bog, where his body would be preserved for the next two millennia.


Prehistory, the time before written records emerged, ended at different times in different places, but it dwarfs written history everywhere. For a historian, that’s frustrating, since it means that most of the past is beyond typical research. However, prehistory doesn’t have to be an entirely closed book. Thanks to careful study and analysis, historians and archaeologists have retrieved some truly amazing stories previously lost to us in the modern world.


The Last Stand Of The Pharaoh

Around 3,600 years ago, a pharaoh handled his horse skillfully as he led his soldiers on an expedition far from home. He had spent most of his life on horseback, permanently altering the muscles of his femur and pelvis. 

This was a break with tradition—horses had only recently been introduced to Egypt and were still uncommon in warfare along the Nile. But Pharaoh Senebkay needed every advantage he could get.  

The mighty empire of Ancient Egypt had broken apart as the invading Hyksos took over the northern part of the country, leaving Senebkay, the self-declared ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, confined to a rump state around Abydos. Threatened by the Hyksos, Egyptian rivals in Thebes, and at least one major Nubian invasion, the pharaoh had spent most of his life at war.

Around 1600 BC, Senebkay was riding out against his enemies when he found himself under attack. He must have fought back. Tissue recovered from a related mummy revealed a muscular man who built strength by performing repetitive arm motions, probably in the form of combat drills, demonstrating that the Abydos pharaohs were trained to be warriors

The position of Senebkay’s wounds indicate that he fought on horseback, giving him a substantial advantage as he slashed down at his enemies. However, he was surrounded by multiple assailants who stabbed him repeatedly in the knees, hands, and lower back. A powerful cut almost severed his foot entirely. Then he was pulled down. An enemy soldier stepped forward, hefting one of the curved battle-axes common in Egypt at the time. He delivered three massive blows to the pharaoh’s head.

Senebkay’s body wasn’t mummified for several weeks, indicating that he died a long way from Abydos. His people may also have had trouble recovering his body. He was laid to rest in a painfully modest tomb, revealing the poverty of his dynasty . Even his sarcophagus had to be stolen from the tomb of an earlier ruler. In fact, Senebkay’s dynasty was so obscure that historians only learned of its existence in 2014, when his tomb was unearthed. The University of Pennsylvania’s Josef Wegner led the study of the pharaoh’s skeleton, revealing the dramatic details of his death . 9