"There are a thousand hacking at the
Modern Myth Articles
Ancient Myth Articles
Ancient Saturn Worship
The Star of Dawn
Site Section Links
A World With One Season
The paper I am about to read is based on the Saturn thesis which, bizarre as it may seem, claims that Earth was once a satellite of the planet Saturn. It is further claimed that this Saturnian system was originally extraneous to the present Solar System even during the advent of mankind. In other words, what is claimed is that man evolved into the being he presently is while in the presence of a sun other than the present one at a time when Earth was still traveling with its proto-Saturnian primary in space outside the present Solar System. Saturn was, at that time, a brown dwarf star of larger mass which generated its own heat and light. It was this brown dwarf star that first acted as the sun of humankind. And whereas the heat radiated by this proto-Saturnian star was of a lesser amplitude than that disseminated by our present Sun, Earth still basked in a warm climate due to its close proximity to its former primary.
It is also claimed that Earth did not orbit proto-Saturn in the same manner in which it now orbits the Sun, and that, in fact, it did not orbit proto-Saturn at all. On the contrary, Earth was situated directly “beneath” proto-Saturn’s south pole in such a way that both bodies shared the same axis of rotation. As seen from Earth, the Saturnian sun was not seen to rise or set, but remained perpetually fixed in one place, that place being Earth’s north celestial pole, the same place that is now occupied by the North Star. This also means that Earth did not experience the succession of day and night—that, in effect, it was always day.
What all this additionally entails is that Earth would not then have experienced a succession of seasons but that, on the contrary, it would have enjoyed a single, non-variable, spring-like climate.
THE NATURE OF SEASONS
At present, the seasons are caused by the inclination of Earth’s axis to the plane of the ecliptic. This means that not all of Earth’s latitudes receive the same amount of direct radiation from the Sun at all times. Summer arrives in the northern hemisphere because Earth’s axis during that time tilts the north pole toward the Sun (closest during summer solstice). In winter, it is the south pole that is tilted toward the Sun (closest during winter solstice). In between, during the equinoxes, both hemispheres receive the same amount of solar radiation because Earth’s axis points neither toward nor away from the Sun. Needless to say, in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed, with summer coming in winter, autumn coming in spring, winter in summer, and spring in autumn. But, while all this is astronomically true, it is not necessarily always apparent down here on Earth. Thus, the fourfold seasonal division of the year can seldom be recognized in the annual cycle itself.
In the Western World, the seasons have been calculated in accordance with the yearly cycle of cultivated plants: Winter as the season of dormancy, spring as that of sowing, summer as that of growth, and fall, or autumn, as that of harvest. However, as we all know, spring and fall are merely transitional periods. Winter and summer are the only two seasons that have a distinctly extreme difference. Beyond that, seasonal temperatures pay no attention to the inclination of Earth’s axis. Parts of spring can be as cold or as warm as winter or summer, as so, also, can parts of autumn. Climate depends on shifting winds, themselves reliant on the evaporation of water, as also on the particular topography of the land.
This is especially true in tropical latitudes where seasonal differences in weather depend on the shifting wind belts where the alteration of rainy and dry days is more important than temperature. Nor do these rainy and dry seasons necessarily correspond with winter and summer. In fact, places close to the equator can experience two rainy seasons and two dry seasons per year. The length and intensity of these rainy and dry seasons also depends on the relief of the land and exposure to winds from different directions.
The Rotumans, living on a small island near the equator, reckon the passage of time in periods of six months, or moons. Changes of temperature there are but slight, with the difference of seasons barely perceptible. Not only can the natives observe no change of season, the vegetation itself is not materially affected throughout the year. So, likewise, in the Kingsmill Islands, also known as the Gilbert Islands, situated directly beneath the equator, where the natives reckon their “year” as a period of ten months without any reference to seasons.
It can thus be seen that, while the official seasons are tied to the astronomical calendar, actual seasonal variations, climates, and temperatures are not entirely dependent on Earth’s axial tilt. All of which raises the question: Are seasons necessary for the propagation and sustenance of life?
THE GOD OF SEASONS
On an Earth bathed in perpetual light, bereft of the succession of day and night, with a radiating warmth reflecting uniformly, or quasi-uniformly, on all parts of the globe, our world could only have experienced a single season. The evidence for whether this was ever so can only be found here on Earth. But, before delving into that, because seasons would eventually have come about, our reconstruction of these primeval events demands that man should have retained a memory of a world with but one season and that he should also have connected the arrival of the four seasons with the Saturnian deity man had been wont to venerate since time immemorial. Can this demand be met?
We note, for starters, that the association of the word “season” with Saturn is discernible in Latin. In fact, the English word “season” is itself ultimately derived, through a meandering route of associated European words, from the Latin sationem, accusative satio, that is “sowing.” According to the ancients themselves, it was this word, satio, and or satus, that is “seed,” from which the name of Saturn—i.e., Saturnus—was derived. And it is this, among other matters, which ended up casting Saturn as a god of agriculture.
There is, in fact, no doubt that, in the minds of the Romans who venerated him, the four seasons were absent during the god’s reign, at which time the world basked in the glory of but one season. Thus, in describing Saturn’s Golden Age, Ovid spoke of mankind as having been “content with foods that grew without cultivation” in “a season of everlasting spring.” It was only after Saturn’s reign had come to an end that the springtime “which had prevailed of old” was shortened while “a cycle of four seasons in the year, winter, summer, changeable autumn, and a brief spring” was instituted. And was it not because of this that Janus, whom the ancients themselves identified as Saturnus, was deified inter alia as the god of the seasons?
It was no different in the New World where the Peruvian Kon Tiki Viracocha was believed to have been the “guiding power in regulating the seasons” which seasons were actually ordained by him.
Further north in Arizona, the Indians of Oraibi venerated a god called Machito who, like the Saturnian deity of other races, existed at a time when “there was no sun, no moon, and no stars,” but before the appearance of the seasons. In fact, it was after Machito had produced the Sun, together with the Moon and the stars, that he “appointed times and seasons.”
Much more can be said but, at this point, I must stop because we are now encroaching on the era of Saturn’s Golden Age which actually came much later than the time I wish to concentrate upon.
One objection that might be raised against the hypothesis I am here presenting has to do with photoperiodism, which is not to be confused with photosynthesis. Photoperiodism is the response of organisms to the duration of light and darkness generated by the succession of day and night. It should however be noted right from the start that temperature, nutrition, and environmental factors can greatly modify this response. Also, closely related varieties of species can, and do, respond differently to identical photoperiodic conditions due to inherited differences in their make-up.
When it comes to fauna, the most conspicuous activities correlated to photoperiodism consist of changes in pelage and/or plumage, the migratory instincts of birds, and the reproductive process, each of which occurs with marked regularity at a particular time each year. When animals held in captivity are subjected to artificial lighting conditions which mimic a day-night succession that is different from the natural one, reproduction, bird migration, and other activities can be induced out of season. This seems to prove that such activities are regulated by the changing daily periods of light and darkness—in other words by the succession of the seasons.
Changes in physiological responses, such as change in breeding season, occurs in certain birds and mammals when transported from a southern to a northern latitude and/or vice versa. And yet, in equatorial regions, where day lengths are constant, mammals and birds continue to breed, change their plumage, and migrate as if the day lengths actually varied. Do they then keep count of the days? Can they keep time? Or is it that they have adapted so well to their environment that their physiology changes without response to photoperiodism? To be sure, studies of certain species of birds failed to show any influence of light on their reproductive cycle. Would animals not breed had there been no succession of day and night? Would they stop breeding in an environment of perpetual light and an everlasting spring? Or would they adapt?
The flowering of plants, the formation of roots, runners, tubers, and bulbs are also controlled by photoperiodism. Not all plants, however, react the same way. Short-day plants, for instance, fail to flower when days exceed a certain duration; long-day plants fail to flower unless days exceed a certain duration. The critical day lengths for these plants, moreover, differ widely not only from species to species but also among varieties of the same species. Other plants flower regardless of day lengths.
Red light, meanwhile, can prevent the flowering of short-day plants while promoting that of long-day ones. However, the inhibition of flowering by short-day plants through red light can be prevented by the inclusion of red light of greater wave length (or what is known as far-red). Since Saturn is here posited to have been a brown dwarf star, its propensity of red light, mainly in the far-red, which brown dwarfs are known to propagate, would therefore have been conducive to plant growth.
On the other hand, as every gardener knows, some flowers close up at night and re-open when the Sun comes up. What, then, would have happened to such plants attempting to thrive in a world where the succession of day and night was replaced by a perpetual day? The answer is quite simple: Had such plants existed at the time, they would have had to adapt to their environment as others have done, and continue to do, in the present world.
But then theories, especially those based on mythology, are a dime a dozen. So the question that needs to be asked at this point boils down to this: Is there any hard evidence, right here on Earth, which indicates that such a situation ever prevailed?
THE SUB-TROPICAL ARCTIC
As early as the nineteenth century it was “admitted by all scientific authorities that at one time the regions within the Arctic Circle enjoyed a tropical or nearly tropical climate.” These words were written in 1885 by William Warren in his attempt to prove that man’s original Paradise had been located at Earth’s north polar region. He did not assert this as merely his say-so; he named authorities and quoted from them.
“The Arctic regions, probably up to the North Pole, were not only free from ice, but were covered with a rich and luxuriant vegetation.”
“One of the most startling and important of the scientific discoveries of the last twenty years has been that of the relics of a luxuriant Miocene flora in various parts of the Arctic regions. It is a discovery which was totally unexpected, and is even now considered by many men of science to be completely unintelligible…”
“In the early Tertiary period the climate of the northern hemisphere, as shown by the Eocene animals and plants, was very much hotter than it is at present; partaking, indeed, of a sub-tropical character. In the Middle Tertiary or Miocene epoch the temperature, though not high, was still much warmer than that now enjoyed by the northern hemisphere; and we know that the plants of the temperate regions at that time flourished within the Arctic Circle.”
“One thing at least is certain, that till a very recent period, geologically speaking, our earth enjoyed a warm and genial climate up to the actual poles themselves, and that all its vegetation was everywhere evergreen, of much the same type as that which now prevails in the modern tropics.”
Even Charles Lyell, the very proponent of the uniformitarian principle, was compelled to write:
“The result…of our examination…of the organic and inorganic evidence as to the state of the climate of former geological periods is in favor of the opinion that the heat was generally in excess of what it now is. In the greater part of the Miocene and preceding Eocene epochs the fauna and flora of Central Europe were sub-tropical, and a vegetation resembling that now seen in Northern Europe extended into the Arctic regions as far as they have yet been explored, and probably reached the Pole itself. In the Mesozoic ages the predominance of reptile life and the general character of the fossil types of that great class of vertebrata indicate a warm climate and an absence of frost between the 40th parallel of latitude and the Pole…”
And yet, seeing as so much has been discovered since the nineteenth century, can we still adhere to these conclusions?
More so than ever.
THE CANADIAN HIGH ARCTIC
The Canadian island of Axel Heiberg, in Nunavut, well above the Arctic Circle, well beyond the present tree line, is littered with the remains of ancient forests—stumps, logs, and remnants of leaves and even fruit. Although the relics of such forests are known from other parts of the world, those on Axel Heiberg are exceptional because, unlike other remains, they have not been petrified. On the contrary, the remains have maintained their original form and even tissue. The retrieved wood still splits and splinters and can be carved with a sharp knife. It burns as good as modern wood. It has even retained the hue of soft lumber. Not only trees have been preserved, but also leaf mats the likes of which one finds on the ground in modern forests. Barren, gaunt, and forbidding as the island now is, its rolling hills bear the traces of more than twenty separate forest layers, stacked on top of each other, all of which are found in situ, testifying to growth on the spot rather than transmission by the forces of nature. The age between each individual forest layer, which consist of sediment a few meters in thickness, has been calculated to be anything from a few hundred to thousands of years.
As James Basinger noted, these vestiges point to “a lengthy warm spell during the Eocene epoch…when mean annual polar temperatures ranged from seven to 15˚ C.”
“Tall trees not unlike the towering redwoods of the Pacific Northwest—and genetically similar to birch, alder and swamp cypress—grew beside a meandering river delta hundreds of kilometers wide. Some of these giants were 35 m high, with stumps 2.5 m around, and appear to have lived for as long as 1,000 years.”
The problem that has been facing paleobotanists is how such forests could have thrived in a latitude which at present would have forced them to “sleep” through the long polar night. As Art Johnson, who has been studying these remains, noted: “We have no forests on Earth where the trees are so big and have to sit in the dark for three months.”
Axel Heiberg Island is not the only area in Canada’s High Arctic where the remains of ancient forests have been found. The coal-bearing sediments of the Eureka Sound Group scattered throughout most of the Arctic Archipelago also contain such remains. Plants dated to the Paleocene from the Fosheim Peninsula of Ellesmere Island resemble similar Paleocene flora from Western Canada’s interior, indication of a cosmopolitan temperate zone. Some of the plants from these Tertiary forests have been described as being akin to those growing in the present cypress swamps of Florida. Trees from the middle Eocene in the same area reached up to 50 meters high.
The fossils of animals found buried amid the remains of these forests—ancestors of the horse and rhinoceros, giant lizards, land tortoises, salamanders, snakes, alligators, crocodiles, flying lemurs—all testify to the warmth of the climate at that time, as so does the discovery of fossil palm trees and huge exotic ferns by Soviet paleobotanists in the islands of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago far within the Arctic Circle. Even fossil tapirs, the descendants of which now live in the equatorial Amazon forest, were found on Ellesmere Island. As Ian Johnson (not to be confused with Art Johnson, cited above) noted, finding the tropics in such high latitudes raises serious implications for paleontologists:
“This far from the equator means 4 months of polar darkness…If the night temperature was always 10 degrees Celsius, in conjunction with 4 months of darkness, plants would die…Crocodiles, lizards and turtles are well adapted to forest life but some of the discovered species [the crocodilians] cannot tolerate near freezing temperatures for very long. This implies that there had to be considerable warmth in the Eocene High Arctic all throughout the year.”
“Crocodilians are a test of the reconstructed polar forest community because they have changed little since the end of the Triassic…the crocodilians have been consistent throughout their long evolutionary history in their limited tolerance of the cold. Crocodilia have never occupied ecological niches where near-freezing cold persists continuously for months.”
The scientific establishment, meanwhile, has not been entirely silent when it comes to propositions concerning the solution of the puzzle which the one-time existence of these Arctic forests raise. Thus, for instance, writers in New Scientist proposed that the Arctic Eocene’s subtropical climate can be explained if the oceans transported far more heat to the poles than they do at present. But evidence of the atmospheric circulation required for this, which depends on temperature differential, is lacking. Moreover, the small size of particles retrieved from Eocene deep-sea sediments confirm the lack of wind speeds at that time.
Continental drift must also be ruled out because Axel Heiberg Island is “only a few hundred kilometres closer to the North Pole than it was when the forests flourished”—which is definitely not enough for it to have been located outside the Arctic Circle at that time.
Leo Hickey claims to have returned from his 1979 field season with fossil leaf fragments one of which measured two feet in width. Gigantic leaves are known to develop when plants are grown under constant lighting conditions. Thus, his conclusion was that these forests “grew under conditions of continuous light.”
Curt Teichert was honest enough to admit that “attempts to explain rapid climatic changes throughout the Tertiary have been ‘especially vexing and unsatisfactory’.” As D. H. Campbell wrote: “It is difficult to imagine any possible conditions of climate in which these plants could grow so near the pole, deprived of sunlight for many months of the year.” Or, as David Mech was forced to conclude, the causes behind such a radical different climate “remain a mystery.”
But consider now: If Earth had basked beneath Saturn’s constant radiation rather than that emitted by our present rising and setting Sun, these forests would not have had to “sit in the dark for three [or four] months” of the year; they would not have had to “sleep” through the long polar night. The Saturnian sun would have supplied the required heat, and would have done so continuously.
Scientific consensus, meanwhile, favors a dimmer sun during Earth’s past geologic ages. Could not this dimmer sun have been the Saturnian sun which later greeted man’s appearance on Earth?
FROM POLE TO POLE AND IN BETWEEN
I have been stressing the discoveries in the Canadian High Arctic but, if the truth is to be known, similar evidence is available from other parts of the northern hemisphere. Oswald Heer described 2,632 Arctic plant species, 1,627 of which were actually discovered by him. In his seven-volume epic on the subject, published between the years 1868 and 1883, Heer stressed the luxuriant plant life that thrived during the Tertiary in northern polar regions. Among those that grew in Greenland, he noted magnolias and fig trees. Similarly in Spitsbergen where he noted the Tertiary thriving of such trees as pines, firs, spruces, cypresses, elms, hazels, and even water lilies. Forests which once flourished in Spitsbergen have left seams of coal from twenty-five to thirty feet thick. Fossil specimens of fig palms and the giant Redwood, which now grow in California, have been retrieved from an area stretching from the Bering Strait to north of Labrador. Fossil corals, which can only grow in tropical waters, were also discovered there in large formations. Corals, in fact, grew all over polar North America—in Alaska, Canada, and even in Greenland.
The same situation is evident at the opposite end of the world in the freezing regions of Antarctica. Early in the twentieth century, E. H. Shackleton discovered seven seams of coal at about latitude 85˚, each of which was between three and seven feet thick, testimonials to ancient forests which once grew where now not a single tree, not even a blade of grass, can grow. The coal seams that run through the Transantarctic Mountains are some of the most extensive on Earth. Sandstone, associated with this coal, was found to contain petrified coniferous wood. Fossils from the Pliocene include well-preserved wood in the form of tree stems as well as roots together with the remains of marine life. In 1935, Admiral Byrd could write that: “Here at the southernmost known mountain in the world, scarcely two hundred miles from the South Pole, was found conclusive evidence that the climate of Antarctica was once temperate or even sub-tropical.”
The Eocene evidence of vast forests in the Antarctic has been attributed to a paleolatitude which was close to that of present Madagascar, while Antarctica is supposed to have still been drifting toward the pole. Continental drift can therefore be used to solve the mystery by those who adhere to this belief. Melvin Cook, however, is of a different opinion. According to his findings, Antarctica “appears not to have moved appreciably in continental shift” since the continents which were once in contact with it “left Antarctica in radial directions,” thus leaving it more or less in the same locality. Besides, as we have seen, the problem also involves the Arctic regions where, even according to orthodoxy, continental drift cannot save the day. But the enigma entails more than just Earth’s polar regions; it also embraces the latitudes in between. Thus, from early in the twentieth century, many paleobotanists were convinced that “during by far the greater portion of time since the Azoic era, mild, benign climatic conditions have existed.” According to Dolph Hooker:
“It is also the concensus [sic.] that, astonishingly and inexplicably, such conditions were comparatively uniform over most of Earth’s surface; that temperate climate extended both north and south to within the polar circles. It is also believed that, amazingly, seasonal effects during most of geological time have been much less pronounced than they are now.”
Writing in 1912, F. H. Knowlton stated that:
“Relative uniformity, mildness and comparative equability of climate, accompanied by high humidity, have prevailed over the greater part of the Earth, extending to or into polar circles, during the greater part of geologic time since at least the Middle Paleozoic. This is the regular, the ordinary, the normal condition.”
By 1953, this belief was still in vogue as exemplified by a paper published by Edwin Colbert in which he wrote:
“So far as past climates can be interpreted from the record of fossil vertebrates, it would appear that during much of Earth history the world has enjoyed uniformly warm, equable climate over most of its surface…the general picture of past vertebrate life is that of warmth-loving animals living over wide ranges of latitude, from the southern tips of the continental land masses through the middle latitudes to regions as far north as the Arctic Circle.”
According to Colbert, “the definitely zoned climatic belts, so familiar to us at the present time, apparently did not exist.” Moreover, this situation prevailed from long before the Tertiary period as Elso Barghoorn indicated: “From the paleontological evidence available, it would appear that there was very slight climatic zonation between high and low latitudes during the major part of the Carboniferous.”
There was thus an added problem that confronted paleobotanists. How could Earth’s polar regions been blessed with a sub-tropical climate while the rest of the world remained little, if at all, warmer than it is at present? As Barbara Bell admitted: “It is by no means clear that solar radiation sufficiently intense to keep the poles as warm as they appear to have been at times would not heat the tropics more than observations indicate.”
THE CRETACEOUS CLIMATE
As we have seen, continental drift cannot be made to account for the sub-tropical fauna and flora of the Tertiary period, the remains of which are now found within the Arctic Circle, for the simple reason that the Arctic regions were already close to their present location at the time. But what of earlier eras?
The climate of the Cretaceous period does not seem to have been that much different. As Richard Kerr noted:
“The earth of the Cretaceous Period 100 million years ago was unaccountably warm, as it generally had been since the end of the last great ice age 140 million years earlier…”
“Explaining Cretaceous climate has been difficult because it differed so from today’s. Coral reefs for which warm water is essential ranged as much as 1500 kilometers closer to the poles than they do today, as did nonseasonal land plants. Deep ocean water that now hovers near freezing was 15˚ (Celsius) warmer…Alligators and crocodiles seem to have thrived at latitudes as far north as that of present-day Labrador. And there is no evidence of any permanent ice like that which today deeply buries Antarctica and Greenland.”
“Not only was it generally warmer during the Cretaceous, but it was particularly warmer in the polar regions.”
Because the positions of the continents during the Cretaceous would have been different from the locales they would have occupied later during the Tertiary, scientists continued to seek an answer to the riddle of the earlier climate via continental drift. This was not only because the lands within the present Arctic Circle would have been farther removed from polar regions than they would have been during the following Tertiary, but also because the different continental configuration would have led to the development of an entirely different climatic regime. It was thus reasoned that:
“Continents bunched in low latitudes near the equator, as Cretaceous continents tended to be, would allow warm ocean currents to carry heat poleward. High-latitude polar oceans, being less reflective than land, would also absorb more heat and further moderate climate.”
Eric Barron and Warren Washington therefore decided to test this hypothesis by recreating the Cretaceous climate through the use of a computer model. Others followed suit. There is no point here in tracing the ups and downs of these various attempts and the disagreements between them. Suffice it to say that, in 1984, Kerr could safely state that “there must be more to the long slide from the balmy Cretaceous period into the ice ages than the drifting of continents.” Turning to the contradictory results of these studies, he came to the conclusion that, so far, “computer models have failed to warm Earth as much as it was warmed in the Cretaceous, suggesting that a single geographic factor or perhaps even a combination of them cannot totally explain long-term climate change.”
One problem we still have to resolve is this: How could a sun, that is our proto-Saturnian brown dwarf star, permanently stationed above Earth’s north polar region, have also warmed Earth’s southern pole, to say nothing of the latitudes in between?
One of the main reasons why some paleo-climatologists have been reluctant to accept a former universal spring-like environment to account for the previous existence of Arctic and Antarctic sub-tropical flora and fauna is that evidence exists which does seem to point to past seasonal stability. This evidence comes from tree rings. As every Boy Scout knows, tree trunks are marked out in transverse section into concentric rings, one ring for each “season” of growth. In order to tell the age of a felled tree, Boy Scouts are taught to count the number of rings laid out in its trunk. Known as annular rings, these growth marks owe their emergence to differences in the elements at the beginning and end of each growing period.
Fossilized trees from various past ages show distinct annular rings. Others do not. Wood retrieved from late Paleozoic deposits in the southern hemisphere has been said to show pronounced ring growths. So, also, fossils of deciduous trees from the Cretaceous. In fact, fossilized wood samples ranging all the way from the Devonian to the Eocene have been claimed to show well marked annular rings. More recent work has tended to show that rings are either lacking or very weak in all known specimens from the Devonian period which seems to indicate a non-seasonal environment. Most fossil trees from the Carboniferous period, which followed the Devonian, also lack rings. As Elso Barghoorn noted:
“One impressive indicator of uniform climate over great areas of the Carboniferous continents is the great absence of annual growth rings in coal-swamp trees. The entire question of ring development in woody plants is one fraught with botanical variables as well as climatic variables. However, the consistent absence of any index of seasonal growth seems difficult to explain except on the assumption that winter cold and seasonality of rainfall were absent or at a minimum."
By the time we come to the late Permian period, still within the Paleozoic era, we end up with a mixed bag. Fossil woods from Canada, Europe, and Asia have weak or non-existent rings, while those from South America, Africa, and Antarctica show prominent and wide growth rings. A mixed bag from trees growing in different areas may be expected. But what about a similar mixed bag from trees known to have grown in the same locality? Thus, moving slightly closer to our time, we come to the Triassic period of the Mesozoic era. Few fossil trees are known from this period and, up till now, all of them come from Arizona’s petrified forest. One specimen from this collection lacks annular markings, but others display very wide prominent rings. In samples from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the same Mesozoic era, as well as from the Early Tertiary period, tree rings range from prominent to non-existent.
When it comes to polar fossil plants, as Edward Berry noted: “Detailed comparisons of these Arctic floras with contemporary floras from lower latitudes…show unmistakable evidence for the existence of climatic zones…” C. P. Brooks reached the same opinion, claiming that climatic zones existed in the Eocene, as so did Ralph Chaney, who pushed the margin up to the Pliocene. As Jane Francis noted, samples of wood collected by her on Axel Heiberg Island showed clear annular rings over a quarter of an inch wide. And, because the darker latewood added at the end of the growing season featured very narrow bands, the conclusion has been drawn that the trees grew rapidly during the twenty-four hour sunshine period of the Arctic summer and then closed up shop during the winter hours of darkness.
The problem with this, however, is that trees would not have survived such prolonged periods of darkness. And then there is the fauna to consider. What—did tapirs and crocodiles sleep through these darkened months? Could land tortoises have migrated to warmer climes and back again every year? Besides, where did the warmth that would have been needed to thaw the Arctic ice cap come from? The present Sun is not capable of accomplishing that feat. And if the Sun, as accepted by orthodoxy, had been dimmer in those eras, it would have been able to accomplish it even less. Or are we to believe that sub-tropical flora and fauna existed in an ice-bound region, and for millions of years at that?
Needless to say, the evidence of the tree rings poses just as much of a problem to the Saturnian scenario we have been considering. All of which forces us to ask yet another question: Are annular rings really indicative of seasonality?
Actually, annular rings are only formed in those plants whose growth is interrupted by a regular winter or dry “season.” The increment of new wood formed in these trees is marked by a distinct line which is produced by the contrast between the late summer of one year and the spring of the next. The lines of separation between successive rings marks the limit of a microscopically thin layer of cells, known as the cambium, which lies between the wood and the bark, at the end of each successive growth period. The bark then cracks and/or expands to allow for the new growth of wood, and the tree trunk is thus thickened. It should be noted, however, that the cambium responds mainly to conditions of temperature and rainfall rather than the incidence of light.
But what about trees growing in tropical and equatorial regions where seasonal differences disappear? Do they still grow rings? As it happens, many kinds of evergreen tropical trees do not grow rings. But others do. As Barghoorn reported: “In existing woody plants, annual ring development may occur under nearly uniform climatic conditions, as in equatorial rainforests.” What, then, is it in this seasonless environment that tells these trees that a year has passed and that it is time to grow more wood and thus form a new ring?
That the growth of annular rings is not tied to seasonal change is evidenced by the fact that some trees have been known to grow as much as three or four rings in one year. Nor is this an uncommon situation, as Nelson Glueck noted, especially in trees which grow on sloping ground that turns wet and dry several times in one year because of rapid outflow of water. According to an item in Nature magazine, multiple rings in larch trees were normal in 1919; in fact, larches seem to be prone to multiple ring growth.
Meanwhile, trees which miss growing a ring in certain years have also been known. As Herbert Sorensen pointed out:
“In dry and climatically harsh years, no detectable growth may occur. In this case no ring is formed and the ring is missing for that season of the year.”
In some cases, as much as five percent of the rings may be missing. In fact, growth rings are lacking in a majority of trees which thrive in subtropical and tropical climates while others fail to grow rings regardless of climate.
What all of this declares is that tree rings are poor indicators of seasonal change. In fact, let us be honest about it, they are not indicative of seasonal change at all. But if tree rings do not indicate seasonal change, what, then, do they indicate?
We have already noted that the cambium responsible for the growth of trees responds mainly to conditions of temperature and rainfall rather than the incidence of light. And, in fact, when it comes to the growth rate of trees, water is the limiting factor. In other words, water is the one true constituent which limits the growth of cambium and thus the formation of growth rings. This is what tree rings, when they grow at all, truly indicate—a cycle dictated by the availability and cessation of an adequate water supply.
That being the case, the lower incidence of light from the Saturnian sun, as compared to the higher incidence from our present sun, would have posed no obstacle to the growth of trees. Temperature would also have posed no problem because, while the Saturnian sun would not have been as hot as our present Sun, its proximity to Earth would have compensated for its lower caloric output.
As we have seen, it is quite apparent that trees grow rings, or fail to grow rings, regardless of seasonal change or stability. More importantly, if trees can, as they do, grow rings in tropical and equatorial regions in which there is no appreciable seasonal change, what is so problematic with having trees growing rings in a sub-tropical Arctic which enjoyed but one spring-like season?
THE AXIAL TILT HYPOTHESIS
Some might ask: Why not leave Earth in the Solar System and simply straighten Earth’s axis?
This, too, would have ensured a world with one season, an eternal spring. And as difficult as it might be to later tilt Earth’s axis to the angle it now holds, it seems more feasible than the hypothesis we have been proposing. This, in fact, had been suggested by various authorities at the end of the nineteenth century as, for instance, by Julius Hann: “The simplest and most obvious explanation of great secular changes in climate, and of former prevalence of higher temperatures in northern circumpolar regions, would be found in the assumption that earth’s axis of rotation has not always had the same position, but that it may have changed its position as a result of geological processes, such as extended rearrangement of land and water.”
By an “extended rearrangement of land and water,” Hann had in mind a redistribution of the weight brought upon the surface of Earth by the elevation of land in one place and the sinking of others in a different locale. But, as James Croll pointed out: “A continent ten times the size of Europe elevated two miles would do little more than bring London to the latitude of Edinburgh, or Edinburgh to the latitude of London.”
This debate involved some of the giants of science that lived at the time, including William Thomson (better known as Lord Kelvin), George Darwin, Simon Newcomb, and Giovanni Schiaparelli, the latter of whom wrote:
“The permanence of the geographical poles in the very same regions of the earth cannot yet be considered as incontestably established by astronomical or mechanical arguments. Such permanence may be a fact today, but it remains a matter still to be proven for the preceding ages of the history of the globe.”
To which he added:
“The possibility of great shifting of the pole is an important element in the discussion of prehistoric climates and the distribution, geographic and chronologic, of ancient organisms. If this possibility is admitted, it will open new horizons for the study of great mechanical revolutions that the crust of the earth underwent in the past.”
The axial tilt debate then spilled into the early years of the twentieth century. Thus, in 1929, Harold Jeffreys could still ask: “Has the inclination of the earth’s axis to the plane of its orbit varied during its history?” As he himself confessed: “The answer to [this] question is a definite ‘Yes!’” By 1937, W. B. Wright continued to maintain that “the earth’s axis of rotation has not always had the same position” and that the “many changes of the position of the climatic zones on the surface of the earth” were “due to a displacement of the pole from its present position.”
In this respect it is noteworthy to note that when, in the 1980s, remains of sub-tropical flora and fauna were discovered by Soviet scientists in Spitsbergen, the axial tilt hypothesis was revived and, as of now, continues to be the standing Russian (previously Soviet) understanding of what had to have transpired in ages past.
According to Bernard Delair, theoretically, Earth ought to rotate on a vertical axis “and may actually have done so in the geologically recent past.” As he stated: “There ought to be no reason why any Earth-like planet undisturbed for untold ages should not have a vertically-positioned axis.”
Unfortunately, there are various problems with the axial tilt hypothesis. To begin with, Delair’s declaration did not go unchallenged. As Michael Reade pointed out, “a spinning ball forced to traverse an elliptical orbit around a primary would adopt a tilted attitude.” As he, in turn, assured his readers, “it is never possible to get a free-spinning ball to spin with its axis either vertical or horizontal: the principal axis of the ball always settles to a well-defined and seemingly invariable angle of tilt.” This, as Reade pointed out, “has long been known to engineers: spinning bodies, such as turbines or speed governors, impose asymmetric stresses on their shaft bearings.”
True, as Jane Francis noted, had Earth’s axis been perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, the Sun would have bathed the polar regions with twelve hours of light every day. The Sun’s rays, however, would have been weak and low-angled, similar to those experienced just before sunset. And this would have been insufficient for the growth of plants such as the remains of which have been discovered in polar regions.
At bottom lies this additional fact: While the axes of the Solar System planets point in different directions, those of Saturn and Earth come close to coinciding. Saturn is tilted at 26.7 degrees while Earth’s tilt is at 23.45 degrees. Both axes point to about the same spot in space. Saturn’s present north star is the same as Earth’s. This is a situation that would be expected had Saturn and Earth once shared the same axis of rotation as the thesis being expounded here demands.
How about, then, a perpendicular axis with an Earth in phase-lock around proto-Saturn, much in the manner in which the Moon is presently phase-locked around Earth, even if the Saturnian system was outside the Solar System? This, too, fails to fill the bill because, while such a system would entail a world without variable seasons, it does not occasion one universal spring-like climate. Only that hemisphere facing proto-Saturn would have been able to bask in perpetual warmth, while the other hemisphere would have experienced perpetual cold. More than that, even that hemisphere facing proto-Saturn would not have reveled in a uniform warm regime. True enough, the climate would not have been variable, but tropical and equatorial regions would still have been much warmer than the poles. The poles, in fact, would have been the recipients of low slanting rays and if such slanting rays from our own Sun would have been inadequate to allow the thriving of sub-tropical flora and fauna at the poles, neither would the slanting rays from a brown dwarf star.
This brings us to the question I asked at the end of the first part of this paper: How could proto-Saturn, permanently stationed above Earth’s north polar region, have also warmed Earth’s southern pole, to say nothing of the latitudes in between?
A DENSER ATMOSPHERE
In 1991, Frederic Jueneman proposed a hypothesis in which he indicated that Earth might once have been cocooned in a more massive atmospheric envelope. This hypothesis is not foreign to orthodox astronomy. In 1997, Armand Delsemme had also proposed a terrestrial envelope “100 times denser than the present atmosphere.”
Although those who have posited this hypothesis have done so for reasons of their own, this proposal can be extended to encompass a greenhouse environment. Under such conditions, the warmth radiated by the north polar Saturnian sun would have penetrated Earth’s dense envelope, which would have also helped to spread it around, while disallowing it to re-penetrate back out and dissipating in space. This is the mechanism which astronomers presently accept to account for the excessive heating of the planet Venus.
One problem this poses for the Saturnian model is that such a dense atmosphere might have hidden proto-Saturn from terrestrial view, and we know from man’s own fossilized memory that this was not the case. True, man was not yet on the scene during the Tertiary period so, perhaps, this should not concern us too much. Besides, there is the possibility that the Saturnian sun could still be seen in a diffused sort of way through the heavy clouds. At present, the same is true on Venus since the Venera photographs of its surface show shadows. It is thus thought that “a hazy Sun” might be “shining over Venus’s surface,” and that such a “hazy Sun” would be visible in the sky.
An alternative way in which this theory could be brought in line with the Saturnian model is if Earth’s dense atmospheric envelope exhibited a north polar clearing—a hole if you wish. Again, such a polar opening in a planet’s atmosphere is not all that foreign in the Solar System. Venus has such a polar opening—a “huge hollow” 1,000 kilometers wide—in its own dense atmosphere right over its north pole, through which the Sun might possibly be shining. If such was the case, the Saturnian sun would have been clearly seen through the opening. More than that, it would have warmed Earth’s Arctic regions even more effectively. Unfortunately, a lamentable objection has to be raised against this hypothesis since the proximity of the proto-Saturnian sun would have raised Earth’s atmosphere in a tide precisely above Earth’s north polar region. Thus, if a denser atmosphere did prevail on Earth, it would have to have lacked a polar opening.
THE PLASMA SHEATH
An alternative hypothesis is to have the Saturnian system encased within a plasma sheath. The first person I know to come up with this hypothesis, as early as 1976, was Ralph Juergens. “Presumably,” he wrote, “both [Saturn and Earth] would be enveloped in a common magnetosphere which…I would equate with a sheath between the solar-wind plasma and any material body, or closely coupled systems of bodies, at non-plasma potential.” In 1981, Roger Ashton extended this idea by supplying this plasma bubble, which is what a magnetosphere really is, with an opaque surface that would have reflected proto-Saturn’s radiation back toward both Saturn and its terrestrial satellite. Similarly, Wallace Thornhill, many years later suggested that the “heat and light of an electric star [such as he believes the proto-Saturnian brown dwarf star to have been] is radiated both outwards and inwards from the photosphere”; that “Earth, situated inside the speherical envelope of such a star…would find the energy flux almost equal over the entire planet”; and that “all objects orbiting in that region would receive the same energy per unit area of their surface.”
In the end, it may even be found that both postulates—a denser atmospheric envelope and a plasma sheath—are quite compatible with each other, since a denser terrestrial atmospheric envelope might have existed within the Saturnian plasma sheath. We would thus have a situation in which the light and heat from the proto-Saturnian sun would have been reflected back, or otherwise radiated outward and inward, from the plasma sheath and dissipated evenly through the greenhouse property of Earth’s denser atmosphere.
CLUES FROM ASTRONOMY
Is evidence concerning any of this available from other planets of the Solar system? Only to an extent because, after all, the case I have been presenting is somewhat unique—which is not to say that similar systems might not yet be discovered out in space. Meanwhile, the extent to which other planets can provide some evidence, no matter how slim, is exemplified by Uranus. Very much like the Saturnian system I have been describing, the temperature of Uranus is not only globally warm, but, again like proto-Saturn, its north pole was found to be warmer than the rest of the planet. Of added interest here is that when Voyager 2 made this discovery, the north pole had been in darkness for forty years. As Thornhill indicated: “This offers a clue as to how the Earth might have had a uniform global climate during the Saturnian era…”
Even more recently, it has been discovered that Jupiter’s satellite, Io, also has its poles as warm as its equator. “Aside from hot spots at volcanic sites, night temperatures on Io appear to be about the same near the equator as near the poles even though, as on Earth, the equator gets more direct sunshine to heat the surface.”
True, Uranus and Io do not have a north polar sun to heat their northern regions, and I only include these data to show that such a state of affairs—global uniform temperature with a slightly warmer north pole—is not of itself a bizarre situation.
That being the case, what need have we of an axial alignment between proto-Saturn and Earth? Why do we need to have the proto-Saturnian sun stationed in Earth’s north celestial pole to account for the single spring-like season in which the Earth basked in past geologic eras. After all, this state of affairs could just as easily have come about had Earth been in a normal orbit around its primary. In other words, nothing I have presented so far demands an axial alignment of the two bodies concerned.
But consider now the following:
THE BOREAL CRADLE
Back in 1868, Heer’s study of fossil Arctic flora led him to postulate that the Arctic had served as the centre of new generations of plants which then radiated south to America, Europe, and Asia. To quote Ian Johnson:
“These migrations of new plant species and groups, which originated in the Arctic and then became closely related ‘vicarious’ species through simultaneous differentiation, elegantly account for the mysterious similarity of tree and shrub vegetation in such scattered locations as eastern Asia and Atlantic North America. This theory also explained the resemblance noted by Heer of the Tertiary flora of Europe and the Recent flora of eastern Asia and Atlantic North America.”
As Johnson noted, while Heer’s theory dates to the late 19th century, his “notion of an Arctic evolutionary cradle is startlingly modern, in line with the work of Dawson and Hickey” to which we shall come in a while.
E. C. Pielou, on the other hand, reminded her readers of photoperiodism which presents an “apparent obstacle to long, northward and southward migration of plants” since such migrations would have moved said plants out of their physiological niche. Long-day plants, for instance, cannot survive in the tropics, while short-day plants cannot thrive in more northern latitudes. This is because the photoperiodic length varies from latitude to latitude and from season to season. Because day and night lengths in the tropics approximate twelve hours each all year round, photoperiodic variations are small to non-existent. In the mid-temperate regions, photoperiodic spans can vary from up to nine hours in December to up to sixteen hours in June. In the present Arctic regions, photoperiodicity drops to zero in December, rising as high as twenty-four hours in June.
All this, however, would have been of very little, if any, importance during the Tertiary if Earth had basked under a continuous and universal sub-tropical climate and light regime as seems to be indicated by the evidence presented above. In the case at hand, the climatic requirements would have been close to identical the world over. Migrating plants would not have had to vacate any physiological niches; they would merely have radiated into new areas the climatic properties of which would have been near identical to the ones of their origin.
In the end, it is the available evidence that counts. Does the evidence support the theory of a Tertiary plant migration from the Arctic into more southerly latitudes?
In the Canadian Arctic, Mary Dawson discovered tapirs and flying lemurs which were closely associated in geologic context. But, further south, the tapir was found in a Middle Eocene context, while the flying lemur appeared in an Early Eocene stratum. Meanwhile, Leo Hickey, who had already spent twenty years studying Eocene flora, came to the conclusion that plants, together with marine invertebrates, had risen earlier in the Arctic than in the mid-latitudes. Ancestors of the horse, camel, rhinoceros, land tortoises, together with the flying lemur, and such trees as the Mexican elm, walnut, and the redwood, originated millions of years earlier in the polar regions.
“Dawson and Hickey in the early 1980s co-authored a paper in Science where they argued that certain plants show up in the fossil record 18 million years earlier in the Arctic than elsewhere while some animals evolved 2 to 4 million years ahead of their time north of the Arctic Circle.”
Yet if the entire Earth basked in a sub-tropical climate during the Tertiary period, to which the Eocene epoch belongs, how could this have been so?
This is precisely where the north celestial placement of the proto-Saturnian sun comes into its own. Thus, in addition to a universal climatic regime which would have warmed Earth throughout all its latitudes, proto-Saturn’s northern positioning would have ensured that Earth’s Arctic regions would have been slightly warmer earlier than the rest of the globe. In other words, Earth’s sub-tropical climate would have itself advanced slowly from the polar regions to the more southerly latitudes, with flora and fauna advancing along with the climate—just as the geological and palaeontological evidence seems to call for.
It thus seems that the Saturnian sun was already stationed above Earth’s north pole from at least as far back as the Eocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period of the Cenozoic Era which is dated by geologist to c. 58 million years ago. And even if this time span would have to be drastically shortened, as it probably will have to be, sometime in the future, it remains evident that the situation we have described would have to have prevailed from long before the advent of man.
THE CARETAKER OF THE WORLD
What must, however, also be stressed is that, when man finally arrived on the terrestrial scene, the situation remained much the same, as mythic themes unambiguously maintain.
Thus, much later in time, the Papago Indians of North America who, together with the rest of humanity, were not yet on Earth during the ages I have been discussing, continued to believe in a time when the “sun” was closer to Earth. As recorded in one of their tales, told in 1883: “The sun was much nearer the earth then, so that it was always pleasantly warm.” Of seasons there were none. “There was no winter and no freezing cold.” It was only later, say these Indians, that the “sun” was pushed “farther away from the earth” and then winter, snow, ice, and hail appeared.
In a “sun” that was “nearer the earth” we again recognize the Saturnian brown dwarf star which shed its light and warmth from Earth’s north celestial pole.
So, likewise, with the Zuni who maintain that winter came much later when the “sun” escaped, rose into the sky, and drifted away. Had this been our present Sun, where could it have been before that? Can we not see that the Zuni have retained a memory of that time when Earth had basked beneath the light and warmth delivered by a different sun than our present one? Does this not tally with our conviction that winter came upon the world when our previous Saturnian sun “drifted away” as the present Sun pulled Earth away from its former primary?
It was no different among the Sioux who, as recently as 1981, were still preaching that the four seasons had not pre-existed but were bestowed as a boon at a later time.
What is also instructive is that man continued to hold the north responsible for the eventual arrival of the seasons. The “sun” of Creation, so claim the Sioux, appointed the north to be “the caretaker of this earth.” More than that, at a time when “the sun did not move yet, did not rise and did not go down,” when it “just stood in one place,” the Creator “made the four seasons for the north to take care of…”