10 Discoveries Made in National Parks

10 Discoveries Made in National Parks


This year is the 100th Anniversary of the
National Park Service, and to celebrate we’ve partnered with the The National Trust for
Historic Preservation and American Express to give you just a glimpse into how our national
parks have benefited the world of science — and, therefore, all of us here on Earth! The National Trust and American Express have
partnered together to give away two million dollars in grants to preserve historic treasures
as part of Partners in Preservation: National Parks. And you can help decide which projects get
funded! Just go to VoteYourPark.org to show your support. Until July 5th, you cast five
votes per day at VoteYourPark.org. Now, you might think of national parks as
a nice place to see a geyser, or a canyon, or historic landmarks that you don’t typically
see around your neighborhood, like cabins and footbridges and lookouts. But there’s more to them than that: there’s
tons of scientific research going on, and a lot of awesome discoveries have been made
in these parks. Over the past 100 years, US national parks
have produced some of the biggest, oldest, deepest, and creepiest discoveries that have
been made in this country! Really, there have been too many to talk about
in just ten minutes. But if I had to choose 10 of the awesomest discoveries made on park
lands? They’d definitely include these: In 1959, an anthropologist exploring Santa
Rosa Island, part of Channel Islands National Park in southern California, discovered the
bones of an adult male eroding out of a canyon wall. The bones turned out to be more than 13,000
years old — making them likely the oldest human remains ever found in the United States. And this discovery helped fuel a whole new
way of thinking about human migration in the New World. The first North Americans came from Asia at
the end of the last Ice Age, moving south from Alaska wherever they could find a route
that was free of giant glaciers. And for much of the 20th century, anthropologists
thought that they must’ve moved down through the middle of the continent. But the discovery made in Channel Islands
National Park — a find that became known as Arlington Springs Man — showed that people
had already reached the coast of southern California 13,000 years ago. And what’s more, they were hanging out on
islands. This helped spawn what’s now known as the
coastal migration theory — the idea that at least some of the earliest Americans populated
the New World by moving south along the Pacific Coast, instead of through the interior. Do you wanna go back even farther in time? Then, let’s talk dinosaurs. No, let’s actually talk: the oldest dinosaur. In 1984, an exquisite set of fossils was discovered
in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park that turned out not only to be of a new species
of dinosaur — at the time, it was the oldest dinosaur ever found on Earth. The bones belonged to a little, two-legged
carnivore — about the size of a small ostrich — and they were found in a layer of mudstone
that was more than 215 million years old. At the time, this pushed back the known range
of dinosaurs some 5 to 10 million years. And the new species, named Chindesaurus has taught
us a lot about what life was like back when northern Arizona was swampy marshland. Since the the discovery of Chindesaurus, some
older dinosaurs have been found in other parts of the world. But “Gertie,” as the Petrified Forest
specimen came to be known, is still probably the oldest dinosaur fossil ever found in the
US. But here’s the thing: Scientists are discovering
new species all the time in America’s national parks. Living species! That live among us
today! The number of plant and animal species that
have been discovered in the parks is almost impossible to pin down, so it might be easier–
and more fun! — to tell you about the forms of life that have been found only recently! For example! In 2006, teams of biologists
set out to explore the network of marble caves that runs under Nevada’s Great Basin National
Park. They ended up discovering at least three species
of invertebrates that were totally new to science, including a creepy looking pseudoscorpion
— kind of like a scorpion without the stinging tail — as well as a pale white millipede,
and a springtail — a weird arthropod that escapes danger by flicking its tail to propel
itself to safety. Oh, sorry. Is three new species not enough
for you? Well, at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
in California, a different research team in 2006 turned up 27 kinds of invertebrates that
had never been described before — including more pseudoscorpions and millipedes, along
with previously unknown kinds of pillbugs and spiders. Now, most of these newly-found species are
endemic to the areas where they were discovered, meaning that they’re only found there. But another creature discovered in a national
park takes the idea of endemism to the extreme. First recorded in 1930, a species of tiny
fish known as the Devil’s Hole pupfish is found only in a single pond of water inside
a cavern at Death Valley National Park. In addition to being the rarest fish in the
world — with a population of only 115 as of 2016 — these tiny fish also have the smallest
geographic range of any vertebrate on Earth. This picture shows their entire worldwide
habitat. So, caves and caverns are great places to
find species that have never been recorded before. But the caves themselves can be pretty cool
too. Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave — which can be
found at its namesake national park — has long been known as the longest cave on Earth. But in 2013, explorers announced that they
had discovered at least 16 new kilometers of caves within the system, and even a previously
unknown entrance to the whole thing. But these discoveries weren’t all made at
once. It took a team of speleologists — the scientists who study caves — several years
to find and explore these new underground passages, a little bit at a time. And they’re still being studied, as scientists
look for new species, even more new tunnels, and new insights into how the world’s longest
cave system came to be. Now let’s go back to the West Coast, where
naturalists exploring Redwood National Park in California made another find for the record
books. In 2006, they discovered a coast redwood that
stood 115.61 meters tall, making it the world’s tallest known tree. They named the tree Hyperion, after one of
the Titans from Greek mythology, and ten years later, it still holds the title of the tallest
plant on Earth. Now, scientists are looking for even larger
trees, which many think are still waiting to be discovered elsewhere in the park. Some discoveries are made in places that are
already national parks. Other discoveries have been so huge that the
places where they were made have been turned into national parks. One such place is Thomas Edison National Historical
Park in West Orange, New Jersey — the site of Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory. Edison’s lab witnessed such breakthroughs
as the invention of the phonograph — the first instrument that could record sound AND
play it back — and of course the improvements that Edison and his team made to the incandescent
lamp, which involved using a carbon filament carrying an electric current to make a practical
light bulb. Another monument to scientific discovery?
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park — also known as the Wright Brothers’
bicycle shop! Sure, everyone knows about Orville and Wilbur’s
first flight in North Carolina in 1903 — but that event was the culmination of years — you
might say, centuries — of experimentation by generations of engineers. And their Ohio bicycle shop is where the Wrights
made their biggest contributions to the science of flight. By the time Orville and Wilbur started working
on a vehicle for powered flight in 1899, other engineers had already figured out ways to
control some aspects of how an aircraft might move. Like, there were already designs that could
control its pitch — or vertical movement — as well as its yaw — or how it moves from
side to side. But — supposedly after watching buzzards
flying in circles near their bicycle shop — Wilbur discovered that there was another
factor that no one had thought of: roll — the rotational movement of a flying object. So, he and Orville designed an aircraft with
flexible wings that allowed an on-board pilot to control the vehicle’s roll. And the rest
is engineering history. Finally, no list of the national parks’
contributions to science would be complete without mentioning a little island that’s
been the site of the longest-running ecological study in history. On Isle Royale, the largest island in Michigan’s
Isle Royale National Park, biologists have been studying the interaction between two
charismatic animal species — wolves and moose — since 1958. Before this research began, it was widely
believed that predators and prey always lived in equilibrium, with the proportions of hunters
and hunted staying pretty much the same all of the time. But thanks to the contained environment of
Isle Royale, scientists were able to study the wildlife in isolation, and discover that
that wasn’t actually the case. In the 1970s, the number of wolves spiked
dramatically, probably because the population of moose was getting older, and therefore
more vulnerable. That meant more food for the wolves, and then
more wolves, as females began having more pups, and more pups survived to adulthood. But this only lasted for a few years. Because
so much of the moose herd had been hunted, there wasn’t enough food left for the new,
bigger wolf population. Suddenly, by the 1980s, the wolf numbers plummeted,
and in some cases, the wolves even began attacking each other. Entire books of research have been written
about the natural drama that’s played out on Isle Royale. But it won’t last much longer. As of 2016, only two wolves remained on the
island. So, in just a hundred years, the national
parks have witnessed all kinds of scientific discoveries. They’ve taught us about life on earth, both
below ground and on the surface. We’ve discovered new species — living among
us today, and in the distant past. And they also include places where we learned
to fly, and discovered how to illuminate the world. Now, your park needs your help to unlock its
part of two million dollars in preservation funding. So head on over to VoteYourPark.org to show
your support, where, until July 5th, you cast five votes per day. And thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which was brought to you by the US National Park Service and our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support this show, just
go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “10 Discoveries Made in National Parks

  1. hey , overamped motor mouth !! So have you ever even done any research as to how many thousands of people have mysteriously VANISHED or been found dead with no explanations from National Parks? but you are in TOTAL lala land …..

  2. Don't forget the discovery of Taxol (used to treat breast cancer) in Washington State’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The drug was isolated by scientists in the 1960s from samples of the pacific yew

  3. Out of pure curiosity
    I dug up Logie Baird
    And I asked him what petrified forests see
    To make them all so scared

  4. Hi there, thanks again or another great video. I have a minor request, could you please consider that there are people other than Americans watching your videos? It's a small issue really, but does unfortunately support the nationalist American stereotype. You are celebrating 100 years of the American National Park Service. Congratulations, it is a worthy celebration. In my country, this year we celebrate the 120th anniversary of our first national park, which is also a World Heritage Site, one of three in our country. Where do I live? Hint we have 63% of California's area, and 12% of its population.

  5. The pup fish were doing fine until the government started studying them. They are actually in Amargosa Valley at a place called Devils Hole and not in Death Valley.

  6. Is is possible to determine the geographical origin of rock? I mean, like what park it came from. I got some rocks that were stolen from a park in California and I need to know which one.

  7. I grew up in a small town that was a 20 minute drive from Sequioa National Park. Just an amazing place to begin with! If you're ever there, make the time to see Boyden and/or Crystal Caves. Secondly, I attended college at HSU, and had the privilege to meet Steve Sillett, the scientist who led the expedition up Hyperion. Also highly recommend going through the Avenue of the Giants if you're ever in Northern California. An amazing drive through the redwoods there!

  8. i went to mammoth in 2002 on a school trip. i'm not surprised they found more to it, it was really vast. i was hella creeped out between the space and the dark and the bugs but i still liked it enough to remember it fondly. and the wild angry turkeys roaming outside >_>

  9. Wolves Battle Royale on Isle Royale…sorry. We have done modeling of predator and prey populations in Ordinary Differential Equations class and it is pretty fun to see the chaotic results.

  10. National park? The Wright brother’s home and bike shop was moved to the Henry Ford museum in Detroit…. the location of the first flight in kitty hawk?…now that is a national park.

  11. In my environmental science class a few years ago we did simulations on the Isle Royale using a relatively simple program that accounted for the seasons, available plant life, and the populations of wolves and moose. In one random permutation of testing my group accidentally found a viable ratio that lead to near extinction of both the wolves and moose at the same time, but with 2 wolves (probably some cubs already too) and a handfull of moose the populations managed to work themselves back into good numbers and didn't kill eachother off… ever. We ran our simulation for 500 years and they kept steady, with occasional dips here and there.

    Just thought it was a little neat.

  12. So when predators are allowed to get too powerful, it eventually screws them out of existence? Bankers and politicians take note.

  13. I live like 30 minutes from Edison’s lab and went there once for a Boy Scouts thing, so it’s kind of weird seeing a picture of it on a big YouTube channel.

  14. The wolves vs moose thing sounds like dieback, like what happens with snowshoe hairs & the linx. But I highly doubt there was 0 interference from poachers of the wolves there. Trophy/Game hunters are assholes.

    Lynx-Snowshoe Hare Cycle | Environment and Natural Resources
    https://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/en/services/lynx/lynx-snowshoe-hare-cycle

  15. so sad , the way you claim these parks as your national heritage. For about 12,000 years these places were the ancestral homelands of the Indigenous peoples of what we now call america. Millions died after brutal invasions by Europeans.

  16. So we're supposed to support scientists that go out, (on our dime) to camp in the National Parks only to fine "EXCUSES" to cordon large areas of public access to deny the Public's access to large parts of the wilderness that is our right.

  17. I wish this guy did more research The oldest presence of humans in the North America was made in San Diego when they found a Mastodon Tusk that had it's marrow taken out by a human

  18. Sorry, but I was studying biology in the ‘70s and there was nothing new back then about the periodicity of predator/prey population dynamics—they had been observed and documented for well over a hundred years at that point, so I don’t see what’s so special about your Isle Royale example, except its tenuous nature in a small, isolated ecosystem.

  19. I always like your videos, but this time there is a big flaw, in not mentioning the fact that all of the so called "national parks" in the usa is basically stolen land, and not just taken from displaced previous inhabitants but taken over killing complete civilizations, nations with culture and language, etc. You as a scientists at least have to mention that this is a fact called not to forget my contemporary fist nations survivors. and even there are lots of legal conflicts active about it. So science is not made in a ivory tower, but in societies, and it has to be aware of social problems that are its context.

  20. SciShow people, I'm really glad you're doing the work you doing, but please add "in the USA" or "America" to titles when it's solely about that continent. You've got many viewers from all around the world interested in information from all around the world, myself included. Tbh it's quite annoying to expect a video with information about the whole world and the video then being limited to just one continent.

  21. Yes let's fund the national parks and not talk about all the people that disappear under mysterious circumstances. Government funding my ass government social experimentation. Edinson is a joke puppet like many others.

  22. Top 10 things not discovered in National Parks. All the people who go missing there and never turn up and no record of their disappearance is kept by the National Park system.

  23. There's tons of research going on at the national parks on how to include bureaucracy into our public lands, and hand the bill to the owners as though "This is a GOOD THING!"
    WELL BULLSHT! Taxes are paid, you got your money!! What do you mean $50 to get into a park?
    This park makes a billion plus a year?!?!!
    Nice try pal ! then you should be paying us 50 bucks a day to go to work!! Pay up for that free truck and free House too!

  24. The BLM and National Forest have had many more new to science discoveries, the park service can be very hard to work with. A number of institutions will not work with park service because of this.

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