The researcher, Craig Lee, a researcher at University of Colorado, Boulder, identified the weapon as a birch atlatl dart, about 3 feet long. Lee theorized that because glaciers and ice patches are melting at a faster rate in recent years, more archaeological discoveries are being discovered.
Lee commented, “We didn’t realize until the early 2000s that there was a potential to find archaeological materials in association with melting permanent snow and ice in many areas of the globe.”
The spear found near Yellowstone is just one of many potential relics that can be found in melting ice. Lee is working with other researchers to create a geographic information system (GIS) to pinpoint other possible locations of frozen artifacts. In addition, he said that the most likely things uncovered in melting ice would be discarded or lost weaponry, like arrows or darts that missed their target.