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View Full Version : Do skeletons still exist in the deep, deep hulls of the Titanic?


PSXer
09-28-2014, 11:57 PM
Like where they got sealed off in those metal doors in the movie.

Try2B Comprehensive
09-29-2014, 12:02 AM
Probably. Like at Pearl Harbor, aren't these kind of shipwrecks considered graveyards?

engineer_comp_geek
09-29-2014, 12:21 AM
There might be, but only in places where the bodies were not only sealed as the ship sank but also managed to stay sealed after the ship slammed into the ocean bottom. If a room broke open on the bottom then deep sea scavengers would be able to get in and devour the remains.

Robert Ballard has said that he would not be surprised to find fairly well preserved bodies in places like the ship's engine room, which was pretty deep inside the hull.

I don't know if Titanic is officially considered to be a grave site, but a lot of people treat it as if it is. I know there was legislation proposed at some point to make it an official grave site but I don't know if it was ever passed.

user_hostile
09-29-2014, 12:35 AM
Fuzzy memory tells me that had Robert Ballard declared the wreck as "his" when he rediscovered the Titanic, it would have been off-limits to others w/o Ballard's permission (re: PBS episode of NOVA).

There's more to this, right?

robert_columbia
09-29-2014, 12:40 AM
What's the oldest shipwreck on which human remains have been found? E.g. are there any Ancient Greek or Roman wrecks that were rediscovered in the 1940's and found to contain bodies?

bienville
09-29-2014, 01:34 AM
Ancient Greek or Roman wrecks that were rediscovered in the 1940's and found to contain bodies?

Isn't there an ancient Greek shipwreck that has a preserved original skeleton?
Except that the skull had been replaced, and the rib cage and sternum are newer, and the clavicle is a substitute for the original that had gone missing, but other than those only another 200+ bones had been switched out over the years.

bob++
09-29-2014, 05:01 AM
Not a shipwreck, but there is this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140515-skeleton-ice-age-mexico-cave-hoyo-negro-archaeology/

The skeleton, dubbed "Naia" (an ancient Greek name related to water nymphs) by her discoverers, belonged to a teenage girl who fell more than 100 feet to her death nearly a half mile inside an elaborate network of karst caves that were largely dry at the end of the Pleistocene. Divers who found Naia in the cave on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula named her watery grave Hoyo Negro ("Black Hole" in Spanish).

Heracles
09-29-2014, 01:03 PM
Isn't there an ancient Greek shipwreck that has a preserved original skeleton?
Except that the skull had been replaced, and the rib cage and sternum are newer, and the clavicle is a substitute for the original that had gone missing, but other than those only another 200+ bones had been switched out over the years.

I saw what (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus) you did there. ;)

Habeed
09-29-2014, 01:10 PM
Deep sea creatures eat bones? Why would they do that?

Telemark
09-29-2014, 02:12 PM
Deep sea creatures eat bones? Why would they do that?
Calcium?

Bryan Ekers
09-29-2014, 02:40 PM
If sea creatures DIDN'T eat bones, by now the oceans would be filled with the bones of a billion years' worth of dead sea creatures.

Ale
09-29-2014, 02:47 PM
What's the oldest shipwreck on which human remains have been found? E.g. are there any Ancient Greek or Roman wrecks that were rediscovered in the 1940's and found to contain bodies?

Ballard found some human bones, from the 4th century B.C, on one of the Black Sea wrecks he's been investigating.

mbh
09-29-2014, 02:52 PM
If sea creatures DIDN'T eat bones, by now the oceans would be filled with the bones of a billion years' worth of dead sea creatures.

It's called limestone. Sometimes it morphs into marble.

Ignotus
09-29-2014, 05:13 PM
mbh

It's called limestone. Sometimes it morphs into marble.

Yes; once microorganisms have finished their meal of the protein matrix, the remainder of the bones crumbles into dust, which settles on the seabed as lime.

Sometimes, an underwater avalanche buries the bones in mud before the process is finished. Those are the rare fossils.

snowthx
09-29-2014, 05:21 PM
Fight my ignorance here. Wouldn't the ship eventually rust away, thereby allowing seawater to breach even the most heavily reinforced voids in the deepest bowels of the ship? The hull is rusting down there, right?

Also, bones exposed to seawater, if not either consumed or somehow disturbed by other life, would they just rot/dissolve? Will mammal bones dissolve in sea water, eventually?

Ignotus
09-29-2014, 07:37 PM
snowthx Fight my ignorance here. Wouldn't the ship eventually rust away, thereby allowing seawater to breach even the most heavily reinforced voids in the deepest bowels of the ship? The hull is rusting down there, right?

Yes, it's rusting, but I wouldn't mind. The pressure down there is a freakin' 400 atmospheres, ferchrissake! So, any needlehole would turn into bloomin' Niagara Falls! :)

Also, bones exposed to seawater, if not either consumed or somehow disturbed by other life, would they just rot/dissolve? Will mammal bones dissolve in sea water, eventually?

As I wrote in my previous post, they are, indeed, partially consumed. What remains is mainly calcium phosphate, which is slowly dissolved by the sea water. The phosphate part is used by plants, and replaced with carbonate ions, which are plentiful. Calcium carbonate is mostly insoluble, so it will precipitate and, in it's time, form part of the seabed!

Sic transit gloria mundi...

Shagnasty
09-29-2014, 07:43 PM
Also, bones exposed to seawater, if not either consumed or somehow disturbed by other life, would they just rot/dissolve? Will mammal bones dissolve in sea water, eventually?

Things don't just rot in water that deep and cold in the same ways they do under conditions most people are more familiar with. Organic material doesn't decay or get eaten like it does in shallow or warmer water. One of the things that irritated me about the movie Titanic is that it is based around a paper artist's sketch found inside a safe but still clearly intact after it was carefully cleaned off under controlled conditions.

I was wrong to disbelieve that plot point. It turns out that was perfectly plausible even though there was no such drawing on the real ship. However, there were hundreds of paper postcards, leather artifacts like belts and suitcases and clothing that were remarkably well preserved. Titanic exhibits like the one at the Luxor in Las Vegas have them on display. The postcards are still perfectly legible and in remarkably good condition.

I don't know of any publicly available photos of the bodies found on the Titanic but it is a certainty that they are there. They most likely better preserved than piles of bones as well due to the conditions where they came to rest.

Zsofia
09-29-2014, 07:59 PM
No, they're just pairs of shoes. (As far as I understand, and obviously I mean the ones they've found, not any potential ones way deep in the ship.)

Shagnasty
09-29-2014, 08:14 PM
I want to clarify my point above. The people that have excavated the Titanic claim that they have never made a positive id of a body on the ocean floor. However, they also have the potential to lose access to the ship if they started finding bodies so it is in their best interest not to look too hard for them or even deny it if they happen across one. Some people are very funny about 'grave sites' as opposed to exploration sites and there would be arguments to close it off from further exploration if bodies were ever proven to be there. I don't understand the distinction myself especially in this case but lots of people think it matters.

Deep parts of the ship are still closed, especially the engine room, to the best of my knowledge. Those would be the places where well-preserved bodies would most likely be found. Most people that weren't completely trapped due to circumstances made it into the water at the surface, died in the water and then floated (for a very long time if they were wearing life-jackets) so they wouldn't be associated with the resting site of the ship itself at all.

Shagnasty
09-29-2014, 08:18 PM
Isn't there an ancient Greek shipwreck that has a preserved original skeleton?
Except that the skull had been replaced, and the rib cage and sternum are newer, and the clavicle is a substitute for the original that had gone missing, but other than those only another 200+ bones had been switched out over the years.

Yes, but it is still the same axe.

Kobal2
09-29-2014, 08:27 PM
What's the oldest shipwreck on which human remains have been found? E.g. are there any Ancient Greek or Roman wrecks that were rediscovered in the 1940's and found to contain bodies?

Dunno about Ancient Greek or Roman (though it wouldn't surprise me - they sunk an awful lot of triremes back in the day...) but I do know a 16th century English ship was found (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Rose) off the coast of the Isle of Wight, with lots of Tudor skellies still in it. Notably longbowmen, whose skeleton had been all distorted by their job (i.e. bone spurs on the left wrist, right arm noticeably stronger than the left etc...)

Balance
09-29-2014, 08:43 PM
Deep sea creatures eat bones? Why would they do that?
Boneworms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osedax) secrete acid that dissolves bones to release nutrients enclosed in the bones. Their symbiotic bacteria digest proteins and lipids and release nutrients the worms can absorb. They're mostly associated with the bones of whales that fall into abyssal zone depths, but experiments have shown that they won't turn up their tendrils at the bones of terrestrial mammals.

Ruken
09-30-2014, 05:19 PM
Yes, but it is still the same axe.Someone let us slow kids in on the joke?:o

Chimera
09-30-2014, 05:28 PM
Someone let us slow kids in on the joke?:o

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

"The ship of Theseus, also known as Theseus' paradox, is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The paradox is most notably recorded by Plutarch in Life of Theseus from the late 1st century. Plutarch asked whether a ship which was restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden parts remained the same ship."

Updated to;

"as in the case of the owner of George Washington's axe which has three times had its handle replaced and twice had its head replaced!"

Kobal2
09-30-2014, 07:25 PM
"as in the case of the owner of George Washington's axe which has three times had its handle replaced and twice had its head replaced!"

I took it as a Pratchett joke/reference - his dwarves put forward the very same philosophical question in... hmm was in The Fifth Elephant or Thud ? T5E presumably, since it echoes with the whole Scone of Stone issue.

Anyway, their answer was yes, btw. It is my granfather's axe even though both its handle and head have been replaced, as the spirit of the thing transcends the thing itself. On Discworld, to the point that it still is an axe and still can kill, even when it has no handle or head any more.

Ruken
09-30-2014, 09:00 PM
Thanks. I know of a few cars of Theseus driving around with welded on VINs being the only original parts.

Little_Pig
09-30-2014, 09:26 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

"The ship of Theseus, also known as Theseus' paradox, is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The paradox is most notably recorded by Plutarch in Life of Theseus from the late 1st century. Plutarch asked whether a ship which was restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden parts remained the same ship."


Look at commercial aircraft.

lost4life
10-01-2014, 09:47 AM
Ship of Theseus paradox on Only Fools and Horses (https://youtube.com/watch?v=BUl6PooveJE).

Guinastasia
10-01-2014, 05:37 PM
Fuzzy memory tells me that had Robert Ballard declared the wreck as "his" when he rediscovered the Titanic, it would have been off-limits to others w/o Ballard's permission (re: PBS episode of NOVA).

There's more to this, right?

IIRC, he's said that he regrets not doing so, because he's against people bringing up artifacts from the wreck.

ExTank
10-01-2014, 08:06 PM
I seriously doubt that there're any sealed compartments left in the stern section of the Titanic's remains. (http://bing.com/images/search?q=Titanic+Stern+Wreck&FORM=RESTAB#view=detail&id=B1EFF227D4C0AC2885916BE9696CABC0C64C2480&selectedIndex=3)

The bow section isn't looking so hot, either. (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CM-t91E-Hk8/T1XE-k7PR7I/AAAAAAAABfo/wh9UdZA67t4/s640/titanic-mightyships.jpg)

Any structural (read: watertight) integrity left after the break up probably didn't survive past 300 feet of depth below the surface* before pressure differential ruptured something, somewhere, and let water in.

Don't know about bones or microorganisms.

*Based, roughly, on the L-class submarine's Test Depth of 200 feet/Design Depth of 300 feet.

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