April 10, 2014

Object in focus: A mug made from a walrus

The journey from walrus to mug is actually shorter than you might think, as a few objects in the Burke's collection show.

First, the mug.

Photo credit: Richard Brown Photography
Object ID: Cat. No 1-2177
Gift of Lucille Christ

This mug was found in the mid-1950s when some children were digging in a backyard in Seattle's Laurelhurst neighborhood, but the mug probably originated in Alaska over 100 years ago.

Around the turn of the 20th century, mugs like this were made by Alaskan Native carvers to sell to tourists. This mug was most likely sold or traded to someone in Alaska who then brought it down the coast to Seattle. From there, the mug either got lost or thrown away and became buried.

After the mug was found, it was eventually donated to the Burke's archaeology collection, where it lives today.

But what about the walrus connection?

April 03, 2014

Creativity unearthered! Some favorites from the mammoth naming contest

UPDATED 4.14.14

We just couldn't wait to share a few gems from the mammoth naming contest even though our judges are still hard at work selecting the winning name.

All in all, over 1,000 entries came in! Once the judges make a decision, the winning name will be announced Friday, April 11, at 7 pm, on our Facebook page and the following Monday on SeattleMammoth.org (where you can also follow the tusk's progress and learn more about mammoths).

For now, here's a sampling...

March 07, 2014

Next steps for Seattle mammoth tusk

UPDATED 3.20.14

The Seattle Mammoth had a Twitter account up and running within a day of its tusk being discovered, but when it comes to next steps for the tusk itself, the pace may be a bit more... well, glacial.

Step 1: Stabilize

"For every day you spend collecting something, you can spend weeks,
months or even years getting the preparation work done."
Bruce Crowley, Burke Museum Paleontology Lab Manager

March 04, 2014

Diggin' the South Lake Union Mammoth

By Dave DeMar

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, an employee of Transit Plumbing, Inc. discovered a Columbian mammoth tusk at a South Lake Union construction site in Seattle. I had heard about its discovery that day but hadn’t given it much thought beyond “you never know when or where fossil discoveries are going to turn up.”

The Columbian mammoth is Washington's state fossil and had tusks
up to 15 feet long. These mammoths ranged across North America
until the last glacial retreat about 11,000 years ago.
Image by Charles Knight, 1922, public domain.

The following Thursday around 8:30 a.m., I received a text message from Dr. Christian Sidor, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Burke Museum and University of Washington Associate Professor of Biology, asking if I’d like to help excavate the mammoth tusk. “Sure!” I immediately responded, thinking what an adventure it would be to dig up an ice age animal in the middle of a city.

February 20, 2014

Mask that likely inspired the Seahawks logo discovered in Maine museum

By Robin K. Wright

Shortly after publishing the blog post, “Searching for what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo,” we were contacted by Gretchen Faulkner, the Director of the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine. She informed us that the British Columbia Kwakwaka’wakw mask, believed to be the inspiration for the original Seahawks logo, is part of the Hudson Museum collections.

It is so exciting to know where the mask is today and to have the chance to learn more about it. Gretchen sent color photographs of the mask both open and closed. The image of the closed mask shows the “wings” above the eye lying horizontally rather than vertically like ears or horns, as in the Inverarity photo (below).

A color photo of the mask in its closed position.
Hudson Museum cat. no. HM5521.

January 28, 2014

Searching for what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo

By Robin K. Wright

Since its debut in 1975, people have been speculating about the design influence for the Seattle Seahawks team logo, but until recently, a specific object that most likely inspired the designers had not been identified.

January 15, 2014

Two of Washington's Strangest Arachnids

By Rod Crawford

Out of Washington's 920+ spider species, 50+ harvestman species, and goodness knows how many mites and pseudoscorpions, these are two of the strangest-looking arachnids I've seen so far!

Acuclavella leonardi, front view of live specimen. Photo © Joe Warfel.

On September 3, 1974, I was on a cave-hunting trip with two friends, following up a rumor of a cave at the base of a waterfall near Mossyrock, Washington. The "cave" proved to be a case of over-active imagination, but under wet rocks in the spray zone of the falls I collected several spiders and a 5-mm-long black harvestman with medium-length legs. [Please note: harvestmen are not spiders! They are a separate order of arachnids, just as butterflies belong to a separate order from beetles.]