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On This Day In Science History

On April 1, 1901 a historic discovery was made by Kentucky State University Professor Simeon Fess. A professor of Native-American archaeological studies, Fess and his team unearthed the “Pawnee Lakebed” limestone carvings. Dating the site back to approximately 1400 to 1430 AD, the limestone carvings were interpreted by Fess and his colleagues to be the instructions for the construction of a set of fabricated wings, utilizing the bark and wood of the Northeastern Spruce tree, sewn together with silk fibers along with the thin, yet durable, skin of the White-tailed Deer (odocoileus virginianus). Depictions of tribesmen attempting to take flight wearing the artificial wings accompanied the instructions. Located at the deepest portion of what was once a lake, The Pawnee Lakebed site is noted for the dozens of skeletal remains of the local tribesmen that fell to their deaths in their attempts to achieve flight by launching themselves off of the cliffs just above the lake, wearing these artificial wings. In some cases, the remains still had the artificial wings affixed to their arms and backs. Fess’ discoveries helped launch his career up through the ranks of academia, where he would eventually serve in the US Congress as a Senator from his native state of Ohio.

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