Got CALICHE? Museums and the Web (On-line papers)

VIRGINIA COLLECTOR GUILTY OF STEALING FOSSILS 03/23/99 A man has pleaded guilty to stealing fossils valued at $220,813 from federal land in Wyoming. David A. Hutchison, 51, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing June 10 in U.S. District Court here, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prosecutors said Hutchison took turtle and crocodile fossils that were over 50 million years old between 1976 and 1997 without a permit. He kept them in his Powhatan County home where authorities confiscated hundreds of specimens, photographs and videotapes. There is no evidence that Hutchison sold the fossils for profit, prosecutors said. Hutchison is free on bond pending his sentencing.

OBSIDIAN CHIPPER PRACTICES 250,000-YEAR-OLD CRAFT 03/23/99 HENDERSON, Colo. Doug Dahl is a flintknapper, practicing a 250,000-year-old craft of making knives, arrowheads, spear points and tools from stone. In a recent demonstration at the Adams County Museum and Heritage Center, Dahl held a softball-sized piece of black obsidian in his left hand and struck it sharply with a smaller rock. The impact produced a single stone chip with an incredibly sharp edge. "This is the sharpest instrument known to man," Dahl said. "It is up to 200 times sharper than a surgeon's scalpel. In fact, obsidian blades are still used for some kinds of surgery." Dahl, 47, of Thornton, is among only about 200 flintknappers in the world. He is self taught. In addition to making stone artifacts and lecturing at schools and museums, Dahl also does archaeological site surveys in the western states. "I started out collecting arrowheads, but even as a kid I was interested in rocks," Dahl said. "I was always breaking rock to see what they looked like on the inside." Humans have been shaping stones for tools for at least 250,000 years, he said. Ancient flintknappers probably carried tool kits consisting of a core stone, a baseball-sized hammerstone for flaking off the rough chips or spalls, an antler for beveling and bi-facing the spall, and a pressure flaking tool for delicate shaping, notching and sharpening of edges. With such a kit, the flintknapper could make arrowheads, spear points, stone knives, scrapers, awls and drills. Dahl said one of the most intriguing aspects of flintknapping and arrowhead collecting is thinking about the people that made them. "When I pick up a piece in the field I feel a definite connection with the past," Dahl said. "It may just be my imagination, but I feel I know something about the people and what their lives were like. I get into their heads through the stone.

PREHISTORIC HUMAN BONES FOUND IN GRANT COUNTY 03/23/99 CLIFF, N.M. Erosion has exposed prehistoric human bones of what appear to be four individuals, and one of the graves has been vandalized by pot-hunters, an archaeologist says. The remains were reported by a hiker between Cliff and Buckhorn. The remains have become the responsibility of the state Office of Cultural Affairs Historic Preservation Division, said Neal Ackerly, an archaeologist with a Silver City consulting company. "When prehistoric human remains are found, attempts are made to repatriate them," he said. Federal law requires the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to be notified when prehistoric remains are found. The BIA then contacts nearby Indian groups to arrange repatriation and reburial. State law also makes it a felony to dig in burial sites without a permit. "Under the law, to pull pots out (of graves) and leave the bones is still illegal," said Glenna Dena, state archaeologist. Supervisors yesterday approved spending $275,000 to buy about 33 acres on the northwest side that eventually will be used to expand Tucson Mountain Park. The deal will protect the land from development and save what is believed to be a prime archaeological site. The parcel includes prehistoric walls and buried homes known as cerros de trincheras, which are scattered across Southern Arizona, New Mexico and northern Sonora and Chihuahua. The proposed park also would include a 1775 campsite of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza called Llano del Azotado and the site of the 1858 Butterfield stagecoach station.