Fossils of extinct tourists unearthed at Black Canyon

Anthropologists carefully separate history’s deposits near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

(Montrose) Rare vestiges of ancient history were on display this afternoon at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, just east of here. At first just a dribble, the recovered data now covers two parking lots and encompasses several Department if the Interior panel trucks.

Mostly bone and hair, the exhumed artifacts are believed to be from the 15th Century, long before scientists thought tourists visited the continent. Where these visitors might have come from or what they were seeking should be determined before the summer has concluded.

“This is big,” said Ellen Mulvaney-Kelly, a forensics and space expert at the Forest Service. “We have a wide assortment of of material to sort through and catalogue. Then we’ll interface the mounds of new data with what we already have collected. That should tell us where to go for the next step.”

The cornerstone find, Pea Green Man (1996), was found when workers excavated a former organic junkyard to make room for more fast food temples on South Townsend Avenue. It is not clear whether this fellow consorted with the other ancients or if he simply strolled the Uncompahgre Plateau oblivious to his neighbors in the valley.

Kelly said the discovery has only scraped the surface and that three digs just outside the park should shed light on the 16th Century as well as the foggy periods when the Spanish were here and later European adventurers would appear.

“We wonder what the Ute people must have thought about yet another invasion,” said Kelly. “It had to have been a clash of culture, yielding very little for the tribes caught somewhere between the Bronze Age and the arrival of horses in the San Juans.”

At primary glance the scull bones found appear to be genetically linked to today’s modern tourists. Sometimes buried in tombs, with souvenirs and photographs of mountains, the mummies indicate social standing and wealth. The middle class seems to enjoy private burial plots while less distinct groups were simply thrown from the cliffs into the Gunnison River and washed away to fertilize golf courses in Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Anthropologists think most of these early guests had sophisticated transportation and even primitive GPS trackers. Indeed, the original unearthing was somehow linked to tire tracks although no information in that link has been released as of this morning.

“How else could they have had the mobility necessary to explore our back country?” asked Kelly. “Although the net gain of all the digging and rock hauling has yet to be determined, researchers think their assertions will blow the doors off traditional thinking on the subject of the first wanderers in these mountains.

Much of the human motherlode will be displayed at the intersection of Main and Townsend until hunting season. Showcased 24-7, the display is expected to give today’s visitors something to do while they wait in line to make a left turn south onto 550.

“We are proud that a find of this magnitude happened here on our watch,” said Kelly. We expect the breakthrough that we’re seeing will lead to a greater understanding of genealogical and ancestral links. Maybe your relatives are represented here. Maybe not.”

– Uncle Pahgre

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