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How the RCMP found Canada's most wanted fugitives with a raven, a Cree trapper and luck

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The sun is already setting as we head out on a quad toward the mouth of Sundance Creek, rumbling down a rocky path. Billy Beardy leads the way, a hunting rifle resting next to his rubber boot in case of trouble with wolves, black bears or, on the off chance, a polar bear.

When we reach a steep pitch, he stops and calls out to his wife, Tamara, who is driving the quad behind.

“Make sure you hold your brake,” he tells her before pushing the throttle back up.

We travel nearly four kilometres, branches smacking our faces as the trail narrows to the Nelson River. Along the way are boundless stands of tamarack, black spruce, jack pine and poplar, packed tightly together into an nearly impenetrable fortress of trees.

This is where B.C. murder suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky hid.

“So now you know how hard it is to see somebody from here,” Mr. Beardy says on a cool September evening, his eyes fixed on the wilderness ahead.

A month has passed since the Cree trapper was with the Manitoba RCMP on the hunt for Canada’s most-wanted fugitives. He was there that Wednesday morning when their lifeless bodies were found lying in thick brush near the Nelson River. His sharp eye and intimate knowledge of the land helped the Mounties end one of the most intense manhunts in Canadian history and bring relief to terrified residents of Fox Lake Cree Nation and Gillam.

The extraordinary discovery came in the nick of time.

That very day, after more than two weeks of searching, the Manitoba RCMP were preparing to wind down the manhunt. They believed Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky were dead, but unsure if they would ever find them.

Until a raven appeared.

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Provincial Rd 290

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Sundance

Creek

Nelson

River

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH

Provincial Rd 290

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Sundance

Creek

Nelson River

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH

Stephens

Lake

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Provincial Rd 290

Sundance

Creek

Nelson River

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH


The Beardys’ home hums with the frenetic energy of four children, three cats and four dogs, who bark at the arrival of visitors.

The family lives in a grey siding-clad house in Bird, a Fox Lake Cree Nation community of about 200 people in the middle of the rugged northern boreal forest.

From Bird, it’s a long drive to anything except the woods. The reserve is some 55 kilometres from the nearest grocery store and gas station in Gillam, a small blue-collar town of hydro workers. The isolated communities are connected by two main gravel roads, and both dead end at the bush. This isn’t an easy place to get to or to leave.

The first homes in Bird went up in the early 1970s and were little more than shacks. There was no running water or electricity. Residents chopped wood for heat and light and shared food from their fishing and hunt trips.

Despite the hardships, the new community was their haven from a rapidly expanding hydroelectric industry that had muscled into Fox Lake’s traditional territory in the sixties, bringing with it a more acute racism that made life in Gillam untenable for some Indigenous people.

Mr. Beardy was a year old when his family moved to Bird in 1971. While many Fox Lake band members now reside in bigger communities such as Thompson and Winnipeg, he has never wanted to live anywhere else. He is most at home out on the land, and that’s where he was when the B.C. murder suspects arrived on Bird’s doorstep.

Some of the Beardy children and their cousins play in the back of the Beardy family home in Bird, on Fox Lake Cree Nation, in mid-September.

The Beardys were on their way home from picking strawberries with their youngest daughter, Pesim, when the couple spotted black smoke billowing into the evening sky on July 22. They weren’t sure what was on fire and drove over to check whether anyone was in danger.

The couple found a vehicle engulfed in flames in a ditch next to Provincial Road 290, near Sundance Creek. Worried that someone was trapped inside, Mr. Beardy told his wife and daughter to stay in the truck as he checked, but the flames and smoke were too intense and he backed away. Mr. Beardy called the RCMP, and the family waited for about 45 minutes for emergency workers to arrive.

Drawn to the scene by the smoke, a group of nearby residents and power workers gathered to see what was going on. There were tire tracks and matches on the ground. To Mr. Beardy, it looked as if the vehicle had been pushed into the ditch and set alight. The couple wondered whether it had been torched as part of an insurance scheme.

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Nelson

River

Limestone

River

Limestone Generating Station

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Nelson

River

Limestone

River

Limestone Generating Station

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Nelson

River

Limestone

River

Limestone Generating Station

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH

The suspects’ SUV, as photographed by Billy Beardy while it was still on fire, and the site as seen from the air a few weeks later.

It wasn’t until the next day that they realized the vehicle matched the grey 2011 Toyota RAV4 that police were seeking in connection with the disappearance of Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky. Initially declared missing by the RCMP in British Columbia, the pair were now considered suspects in the deaths of three people killed over four days in Northern B.C.

On the run, they had last been spotted in Northern Saskatchewan, the RCMP said. In truth, they were already well past the province’s boundary by then. On July 24, the RCMP confirmed to the public what the Beardys already knew: the SUV found on fire near Bird had been driven by the murder suspects. Where they were now, no one knew. Mr. Beardy wonders how close he and his family were to encountering the alleged killers. “They could have been watching us,” he says, sitting next to his wife, Tamara.

“That’s what bothered me,” his wife adds, “knowing that anything could have happened to us while we were sitting there.”

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Listen to Billy and Tamara Beardy describe their fears in the first 48 hours of the manhunt.


The challenge of finding the fugitives initially fell to Inspector Kevin Lewis, who at the time oversaw the operations of 22 detachments in the Manitoba North District. The affable commander comes from a family of police officers in Thunder Bay and had been with the RCMP for 17 years, policing in all three territories before joining the Thompson detachment in 2014.

He was used to pressure, but the manhunt for Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky was like nothing he’d experienced before.

“There’s so much desolate land out there in Northern Manitoba that it’s so hard to search every inch of it,” he says, reflecting on the operation. “It’s a needle in a haystack.”

Manitoba RCMP Inspector Kevin Lewis was initially in charge of the manhunt.

With the discovery of the car, dozens of RCMP officers swooped into the region with assault rifles, sniffer dogs, drones and quads. A police plane equipped with an infrared camera flew over the area, but no heat signature of the suspects was detected.

The dogs didn’t pick up a scent because too much time had passed between when the vehicle was found and when the manhunt began in earnest, two days later.

But even as they scoured the area, the Manitoba Mounties were theorizing that Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky were long gone.

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They could have followed the rail tracks and hopped on a train or hitched a ride with a passerby in an area where few think twice about helping a stranger on the road. They could have found a boat by the Nelson or trekked along one of the hydro corridors. They could be hiding in a trapper’s cabin or even made it as far north as Hudson Bay by now. With so many possibilities to consider, the RCMP’s search took in 11,000 square kilometres.

Mr. Beardy was feeling the pressure, too. While the police broadened out their focus, the local community was on high alert. Many residents in Bird were too afraid to leave their houses and struggled to sleep at night.

Despite their nearby sweeps with drones and planes, no RCMP officers were stationed in Bird. Instead, they based their operations in the larger community of Gillam. Realizing their community needed protection, Mr. Beardy and other Fox Lake band members began patrolling the many gravel roads and quad trails around Bird and kept watch over the community overnight.

A proficient trapper and construction supervisor, Mr. Beardy, 48, was seen as a leader in his community – the man many turned to when something needed to be fixed or found. He wasn’t a big talker, except if he was telling hunting and fishing stories. Few, if any, knew these northern lands and waterways better than he did.

“Anytime we’ve had any crisis, he’s come forward and demonstrated this leadership,” Fox Lake Chief Walter Spence says. “He’s quiet, strong. He does what he needs to do, without any hesitation, without any complaints.”

Mr. Beardy’s gut told him the men had not gone far. He kept driving around the abandoned Sundance work camp, checking to see if any trailers had been broken into. From his truck, he scanned the gravel trails, looking for anything that appeared different from the day before. A boot track. The ashes of a camp fire. Animal bones.

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The fugitives were being pursued for the killings of Chynna Deese, Lucas Fowler and Leonard Dyck in Northern B.C., shown in a series of handout photos from social media and the University of British Columbia, where Mr. Dyck worked.

The eyes of the world were fixed on Northern Manitoba as the manhunt dragged on. The killings of tourists Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, and Vancouver resident Leonard Dyck had captured the attention of both Canadian and international media.

Mr. Fowler and Ms. Deese were a young couple in love. He was a spirited adventurer from Australia, the son of a chief inspector for the New South Wales Police Force. She was a generous soul who volunteered at a camp for special-needs families in her hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

They were shot to death on July 15 near the popular Liard Hot Springs in northern B.C. Four days later, the white-bearded Mr. Dyck was found dead near Dease Lake, about a 500-kilometre drive southwest of the hot springs. The 64-year-old was a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia’s botany department.

The B.C. RCMP have not yet disclosed what led them to label Mr. McLeod, 19, and Mr. Schmegelsky, 18, prime suspects in the three deaths or why it took until July 21 to release the pair’s photos to the public, and two more days to warn about their movements and the danger they posed. (The Mounties are set to release their investigative findings at a news conference later today in B.C.)

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, as seen in a a public alert issued by the B.C. RCMP on July 23.

In their hometown of Port Alberni, B.C., a disconcerting picture soon emerged of Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky.

They had an interest in Nazism, Soviet Russia and survivalist video games. Mr. Schmegelsky had a history of making disturbing and violent comments about killing people and then himself. Many who knew them had considered their behaviour odd and unsettling, but not dangerous.

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When the teens left around July 13 in a vintage Dodge Ram pickup truck with a Bigfoot camper top, they seemed to be headed to Yukon and Northwest Territories in search of work. At least, that’s what they told their parents.

Why they came to a road to nowhere in northern Manitoba, in some of the harshest terrain in the country, remains a mystery.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Inspector Lewis says.


During the first week of the wide-ranging manhunt, there were about 40 police officers involved in the search and working flat-out, searching as far as Churchill. Two military aircraft joined the effort on July 27: a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules, staffed with trained search-and-rescue spotters and a CP-140 Aurora that had specialty surveillance capabilities, including infrared camera and imaging-radar systems. But they didn’t spot anything significant.

With no leads or new sightings of the fugitives, Inspector Lewis and his team started evaluating their options. It was then that he received an unexpected call from a veteran officer with B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Staff Sergeant Dan Holt is an expert in tracking and surveilling suspects in rugged and remote environments. He’s been with the B.C. anti-organized crime agency for nearly two decades and has also spent 44 years in the British and Canadian militaries. He was calling to offer his help.

He told Inspector Lewis that he could help track which way the suspects went after they torched their vehicle. Open to new ideas, the search commander accepted his offer and Staff Sgt. Holt packed his black Ford pickup for the long drive to Manitoba.

The sun sets over Provincial Road 290 at the ditch where the suspects’ burned SUV was found.

When he arrived in Gillam, a week had passed since the Beardys found the torched SUV, which had belonged to murder victim Mr. Dyck.

Before arriving near Bird, Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky had been spotted numerous times as they travelled across the country, not yet declared homicide suspects. The SUV they were driving was stuck on a trail in Cold Lake, Alta., and a resident helped free them. They were caught on a video camera shopping in Meadow Lake, Sask., and spotted gassing up in Split Lake, Man., where they asked the cashier whether they could buy booze in the dry Indigenous community.

But their trail had seemingly gone cold near Bird. With no sign of the fugitives anywhere in the country, the Manitoba Mounties developed a new theory about their whereabouts. Maybe Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky never left the area and instead plunged into the woods near Sundance Creek, not realizing the challenging terrain and weather they were about to encounter.

The woods here are unlike that of Southern Canada. Within moments of stepping in, you’re swallowed by trees, sand flies and mosquitoes. It’s hard to see much beyond a few steps. At times, the ground is boggy and there are scant defined trails. One misstep and you’ll be knee-deep in muskeg or clay.

For the first few days, the B.C. fugitives would have enjoyed warm, dry weather. Then the temperature plunged from a high of 30 C in the day to the low teens with a biting rain. “Those woods are ferocious,” says Inspector Lewis, who was recently promoted to superintendent of Manitoba North. “It was going to be very tough for them to stay alive in those woods for any extreme length of time. Even a week would be very difficult.”

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The decision early in the second week of the manhunt to refocus the search on the area surrounding the burnt SUV had been fruitful. Around July 29, something was found that pointed police to a direction of travel. Inspector Lewis can’t yet say what it was because of the B.C. homicide investigation.

Meticulous and philosophical, Staff Sgt. Holt, or “Tracker Dan,” as he became known in the field, located more evidence the next day in the bush near Sundance Creek, when a new search commander, Inspector Leon Fiedler, arrived to relieve Inspector Lewis, who was headed on a family vacation.

The evidence was one of the first things that police felt they could directly link to the suspects, says Inspector Fiedler, a 27-year veteran of the RCMP and a critical incident commander in the Mounties’ Alberta division. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have found that evidence,” he says of Staff Sgt. Holt, explaining how he followed tracking signs through the bush to make the find. He did so under the protection of tactical officers who trekked with him, assault rifles at the ready in case the fugitives were still alive and armed. He also had help from a B.C. emergency response member who also had some tracking experience.

As more evidence linked to the pair was discovered, a previously announced scale-back of the manhunt never really happened. About 30 officers were on the ground and the RCMP’s infrared-equipped helicopter was brought in from Alberta to help scan the shoreline and woods.

The banks of the Nelson River, where the search continued.

While the Mounties were finally making headway, news of their discoveries was kept under wraps until a wrecked rowboat was found on Aug. 2 in an eddy of the Nelson River, past the Lower Limestone Rapids. That day would prove to be a turning point, as a cascade of events led police to find evidence connected to the fugitives as well as some items that likely weren’t.

It started with river guide Clint Sawchuk. He was cruising on the Nelson River, taking a group of tourists to the national historic site of York Factory, when he spotted a blue sleeping bag in the water, tangled up in some willows near Hudson Bay. He notified the RCMP, which sent its helicopter to have a look. While flying to the reported location, officers spotted other items closer to their targeted search area, along with a wrecked rowboat (police would eventually come to believe the suspects had never used it).

There are only two or three people who can navigate that treacherous stretch of the Nelson by boat: Billy Beardy is one of them. He was at work in Bird when he received a call in the afternoon, asking if he could take the RCMP on the Nelson River in his jet boat to recover the items spotted from the air.

The trip wouldn’t be easy. The items – another blue sleeping bag and a black backpack – were found below a high cliff and near the big rapids. The water moves fast there and Mr. Beardy had to devise a safety plan. “If your boat actually stops in that area, you’re pretty much a goner,” Mr. Beardy recounts. “You got maybe 8 to 10 foot swells there,” he adds. “It’s pretty dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.”

The other potential danger was the murder suspects. Tactical officers offered firepower protection and a helicopter kept watch overhead.

An RCMP helicopter watches the banks of the Nelson River near where the dive team is searching.

In his jet boat, Mr. Beardy guided the police safely to the evidence. He didn’t see what was in the backpack, but he heard it contained toiletries, including a razor and shampoo. “I was glad that I was there because I knew they were there” in the bush, he says.

As Mr. Beardy became more involved in the search – taking an RCMP dive team on the river two days later – his wife grew increasingly worried about his safety. What if the fugitives were still alive and looking for one last showdown with the police? “You have young kids to worry about,” she kept telling him, in tears one day. “You have a lot at stake, too. Not just them.”

The potential danger he was in and the risks he took only hit him afterward. “I was sitting out there like a sitting duck, no armour, with my work jacket on,” he says. “I could have been killed at any time.”

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Upon reflection, Mr. Beardy wishes he had the same armoured protections the RCMP had. Listen to him speak about his concerns for his safety during the search.


It had been 12 days since police began their manhunt around Sundance Creek, and despite finding evidence of the fugitives, Inspector Fiedler was considering winding down the search.

Manitoba RCMP officers believed the men could not have survived, and there was a good chance their bodies would never be found. Predators such as bears and wolves may have gotten to them. Or they could have drowned in the Nelson River and been swept to the Hudson Bay.

He had planned to remove most of his team on Aug. 7, and he was scheduled to return to Edmonton later that day. But before calling it quits, he had one last spot that required further searching. He sent a team to the area where the sleeping bag and backpack had been found five days earlier.

“We really did not want to leave there without giving some kind of sense of closure for the community,” he says. “That’s why we kept pushing as long as we did.”

That morning, the RCMP turned to Mr. Beardy again to take three officers and the tracker back on the Nelson River. They set off just after 9 a.m.

The officers weren’t sure exactly where the sleeping bag and backpack had been found, but Mr. Beardy remembered the spot. He powered down his jet boat as they approached the rapids, but they were still moving quickly in the fast-flowing water, giving them only split seconds to scan the shoreline.

That’s when Mr. Beardy noticed a raven jump up from the brush. “Did you see that?” he asked the officer behind him.

Mr. Beardy spun the boat around and headed toward where the raven had been. A lifelong hunter, he knew the bird could be scavenging on something.

“As soon as we got to the shore, sure enough, we saw them,” Mr. Beardy says.

At first, they could only see one of the fugitives in the sloped thick brush, Kam McLeod. An RCMP officer scrambled out of the boat and raised his gun. Mr. McLeod was bearded, dressed in a camouflage top and black rain pants, Mr. Beardy recalls.

Mr. Schmegelsky was found about one and a half metres away, lower down on the slope. He was dressed in full camouflage. Police believe the pair killed themselves with guns. Their bodies were found about eight kilometres from the torched SUV.

The manhunt finally was over.

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Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Sleeping bag and

backpack found

near here

Suspected route

the fugitives hiked

Provincial Rd 290

Nelson River

Bodies found

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

GOOGLE EARTH; MANITOBA RCMP

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Sleeping bag and

backpack found

near here

Suspected route

the fugitives hiked

Provincial Rd 290

Nelson River

Bodies found

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

GOOGLE EARTH; MANITOBA RCMP

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

Suspected route

the fugitives hiked

Provincial Rd 290

Nelson River

Sleeping bag

and backpack

found near here

Bodies found

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GOOGLE EARTH; MANITOBA RCMP

The wooded area where the bodies were found, with the raven’s help.


A chilly mid-August air hovered over Fox Lake residents as they gathered for a cleansing ceremony at the spot where the B.C. fugitives had set their SUV on fire. Several men began by building a fire on the sooty gravel road and formed a circle around the flames to share how the manhunt had affected them and shattered their sense of security.

During the two-week search, many residents in Bird and Gillam had been too scared to stray far from their homes or let their children play alone outside. Some struggled to sleep at night and kept hunting rifles next to their beds in case the fugitives made a sudden bolt for their isolated communities.

For some Fox Lake band members, the flood of outsiders – including the police and media – triggered painful memories of historical traumas.

The discovery of the murder suspects’ bodies brought great relief to the residents of Fox Lake and Gillam, but a pall lingered, even over the Beardys.

The time had come to wipe away the negative forces that had descended on their land and reclaim authorship of its story from the two B.C. fugitives who drove to a dead-end road and then seemingly vanished into the wilderness.

Until a raven appeared.

The Beardys’ youngest daughter, Pesim, in the family’s backyard. The manhunt is over. Her father is safe.



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Interstellar visitor is reddish, new study finds – CBC.ca

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In a new study published in Nature Astronomy on Monday, astronomers are pulling back the curtain on some of the mysteries behind our solar system’s first confirmed interstellar comet.

The comet, 2I/Borisov, was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov on Aug. 30, though its orbit was unknown.

But by the end of September, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center confirmed that the comet came from beyond our solar system

Because Borisov is so distant — 420 million kilometres from Earth — it’s difficult to determine a lot of its characteristics. However, this new study, the astronomers were able to determine a few of its interesting qualities.

Using two telescopes, the Gemini North Telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the William Herschel Telescope in La Palma, Spain, they were able to determine that the nucleus, or core, is roughly one kilometre in diameter. 

They also identified a short tail and an extended coma, or cloud of debris that gives comets their fuzzy appearance. And they determined its colour.

“We found this colour of the comet is almost the same as other colour of the typical comets in our solar system,” said co-author of the paper Piotr Guzik, an astronomer at the Astronomical Observatory at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. “It’s not red like Mars … it’s just a bit more red light in its spectrum than the blue light.”

In another study, researchers also found that Borisov contained cyanogen, which is made up of a carbon atom and a nitrogen atom that are bonded. It is a poisonous gas to us, but commonly found in comets.

Second interstellar visitor

Borisov is the second known object to come from another star system.

The first was 1I/’Oumuamua. It’s believed that it was an asteroid, however, it’s also been hypothesized that it did have some activity — called outgassing — that is similar to a comet’s.

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar object, 1I/’Oumuamua. It was discovered two years ago by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. (M. Kornmesser/ESO)

While ‘Oumuamua was detected on its way out of the solar system, Borisov was detected on its way in, which means astronomers will be able to study this one for some time.

“The next year is going to be extremely exciting, as we will be able to follow 2I’s evolution as it zooms through our solar system,” said Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, in a statement. “In comparison, we had only a few weeks to study ‘Oumuamua before it became too faint.”

So far, the Borisov findings suggest it isn’t very different from our own local comets, something that Guzik believes could shed light on exoplanets, which orbit other stars.

“Such objects are just part of other planetary systems. It was not until, I guess, around 1990 that we found the first planet systems around other stars, and now part of such a system is here,” Guzik said. “So we can investigate some material that left some planetary system and compare it to what we see here and probably learn something about the formation of other planetary systems.”

Though the recent study found cyanogen, Guzik said that he’s hopeful that, as the comet gets nearer the sun, astronomers will discover more about its composition.

“It will be very interesting to find out more, especially what’s driving its activity,” he said.

Borisov will reach perihelion — its closest approach to the sun — on Dec. 7, when it will be roughly 300 million kilometres away. 

Guzik also hopes that, eventually, astronomers will be able to determine its home star system.

“It would be really nice to know where it originated,” Guzik said. “If we could point to the star and say, ‘This is the star.'”

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Asteroid news: Did alien space rock dust cloud spark new life on Earth? – Express.co.uk

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Scientists have now posited an asteroid disintegration once blanketed Earth with dust millions of years ago. It is thought the cosmic event dramatically cooled Earth, triggering an ice age followed by significant increases of new animals. The work, led by Professor Birger Schmitz of Sweden’s Lund University, provides new insight into the impact of extraterrestrial events on Earth’s evolution.

The asteroid expert told the Observer: “We know about the 6 mile (10km) asteroid that crashed on Earth 67 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs, but this event was very different.

“It occurred about 470 million years ago when an asteroid 3,000 times bigger than the dinosaur-killer was destroyed during a collision with another asteroid beyond the orbit of Mars.

“It filled the solar system with dust and caused a major dimming of sunlight falling on Earth.”

The theory is a reduction in radiation made the planet’s temperatures drop significantly.

READ MORE: Dashcam fireball footage shows space rock hurtle above Alberta

This triggered a succession of ice ages, meaning water froze, ice caps spread and sea levels dropped.

This created isolated shallow seas which were an ideal breeding ground for generating new species.

Cold water also holds more dissolved oxygen, which would also have boosted speciation.

Scientists are already aware ice ages appeared around this time and life underwent a spike in biodiversity, particularly in the oceans.

READ MORE: This is what would happen if an asteroid hits Earth

The first coral reefs began to grow then and peculiar tentacled predators called nautiloids first appeared.

This is called as the great Ordovician bio-diversification event (GOBE).

Scientists have argued over GOBE’s cause but now Professor Schmitz, who studying space dust particles in seabed sediments, believes it was triggered by asteroid dust clouds.

He said: “The sediments laid down at this time are rich in the isotope helium-3 – which they could only have picked up travelling through space. It is a crucial clue.”

READ MORE: NASA chief reveals nuclear ‘game changer’

Professor Rebecca Freeman, of the University of Kentucky, told Science how she agreed with the idea.

She said: “Other scientists have backed his idea. “It isn’t necessarily the answer to every question we have about GOBE, but it certainly ties together a lot of observations.”

Professor Schmitz’s research has also caused interest for another reason.

As the world warms dangerously, some scientists have proposed spreading a veil of dust hovering in space over the Earth, reflecting sunlight away from our overheating planet.

But the idea is controversial with critics because it could have unexpected side-effects.

Now evidence shows such an experiment occurred naturally 470 million years ago.

The result was a major change in our meteorology and the evolution of life here.

Professor Schmitz added: “It is certainly worth bearing in my mind in coming years.”

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Alien life possibly found on Mars in 1970s, ex-NASA scientist says – Fox News

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In a stunning op-ed, a former NASA scientist says he is convinced that the space agency “found evidence of life” on Mars in the 1970s.

In the article, Gilbert Levin, who worked on the Viking missions to the Red Planet during that decade, makes it clear that he believes data from the Labeled Release (LR) in 1976 was supportive of finding life.

“On July 30, 1976, the LR returned its initial results from Mars,” Levin wrote in the op-ed, entitled “I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s.”

“Amazingly, they were positive. As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls, streamed down from the twin Viking spacecraft landed some 4,000 miles apart.”

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about 4 billion years ago when almost half the planet’s northern hemisphere could have been covered by an ocean up to a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep in some places.
(ESO/M. Kornmesser)

NASA: ANCIENT MARS OASIS COULD HAVE SUPPORT LIFE

He continued: “The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet. The curves from Mars were similar to those produced by LR tests of soils on Earth. It seemed we had answered that ultimate question.”

The LR, which was led by Levin, took samples of Martian soil that contained organic compounds and looked for carbon dioxide. Astonishingly, the results seemed to indicate that the carbon dioxide was “being regenerated, possibly by microorganisms as on Earth.”

Fox News has reached out to NASA for comment for this story.

However, Levin seemed to criticize the space agency for not following up on the LR findings, even if NASA concluded that it “found a substance mimicking life, but not life.”

“Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA’s subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results,” he continued. “Instead the agency launched a series of missions to Mars to determine whether there was ever a habitat suitable for life and, if so, eventually to bring samples to Earth for biological examination.”

NASA has made subsequent visits to Mars, including the InSight lander, which landed in November 2018. The Curiosity rover, which has been on Mars since August 2012, detected a surprising spike in the level of methane that it has not yet been able to explain.

Last November, NASA announced that it had picked a landing spot for its upcoming Mars 2020 mission, a rover that will not include “a life-detection test,” Levin wrote.

“With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in a June statement. On Earth, methane is produced both biologically and geologically.

Levin pleaded for the space agency to put “life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible” to be more precise in their hunt for life, but in also keeping “with well-established scientific protocol.” He also wants an independent group of scientists to review the Viking LR data.

“Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life,” Levin concluded. “In any event, the study would likely produce important guidance for NASA’s pursuit of its holy grail.”

The newly published op-ed is not the first time Levin has suggested that life was found on Mars. In 1997, he published “his conclusion that the LR had, indeed, discovered living microorganisms on the Red Planet,” according to his website.

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