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12,000 - 14,000 Epic Carving On Fossil Bone Found In Vero Beach, Florida

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Author Topic: 12,000 - 14,000 Epic Carving On Fossil Bone Found In Vero Beach, Florida  (Read 534 times)
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« on: June 05, 2009, 09:45:50 am »

World renowned geochemist Thomas Stafford commended Purdy with eloquence on her efforts from his lab in Colorado.

“You have done true and intense due diligence in determining whether or not the object is ancient and therefore science is on your side,” he said in the email read by Purdy to Vero Beach 32963. “If later interpretations agree or disagree with your and others present opinions, it is just the wondrous process of science, by which we asymptotically approach truth. Sometimes this takes a few hours in the case of a mathematical proof; sometimes it takes centuries in the case of discerning evolution’s inner workings.”

In Britain, Dr. Paul G. Bahn, an archaeologist with a doctoral degree from the University of Cambridge, is a specialist in prehistoric art; he led the team that discovered the first Ice Age cave art in Britain in 2003 and 2004. Purdy included him in the loop of information on the Vero bone, and shared his reaction with Vero Beach 32963 as well.

It shows the requisite scientific skepticism of finds as rare as this, and at the same time, his optimism that an amazing discovery has indeed been made in Vero Beach. “When you see something like this, your first thought is that it must be a fake. But there has to be a first time, and this might be it.”

Dr. C Andrew Hemmings, an archaeologist at the University of Texas at Austin, is a specialist in the Paleoindian period of prehistory and in bone and ivory tools. He is especially interested in aspects of ancient Florida, and has worked at underwater sites in the Aculla River. He is currently working on an excavation off the west coast near Tampa, and took a break from his work to send his approbation.

“Andy was cute,” Purdy says. “He took all my reports and said, ‘This certainly looks like a perfectly good mammoth carving to me.’”

Meanwhile, Kennedy, the amateur finder of the fossil, is stunned at the significance of his almost chance discovery of the etching. An avid and longtime fossil hunter born and raised in Vero Beach, Kennedy found the bone as long ago as four years in a northern area of the city. He kept the bone fragment in a box at his home along with others he had found, still caked with soil in places, awaiting closer inspection.

One day in February, he closely examined the bone, wiping fine dirt from the thick fragment. As he cleaned it carefully under the bright light of a work table lamp, suddenly he saw a distinctive shape carved into the smooth, curved side of the dark surface. Like a face arising suddenly from a visual puzzle, the appearance of the animal image took him by surprise.

The clear outline of a striding elephant with large tusks appeared beneath the bright light. He knew he had something important in his hands. Here was something more than man and mammoth together, but a personal expression, a work of art or perhaps a religious presentation from a lost and distant world thousands of years in the past.

“I knew this was the coolest thing I had ever found,” says Kennedy. “I was holding something somebody made thousands of years ago.”

Kennedy immediately called an old friend, Vero attorney Gene Roddenberry. A member of the Historical Society, Roddenberry had helped James with other finds the younger man had made over the years. A large mammoth tooth he found in the main canal as a teenager was donated to the city museum, and other large bones had been donated to the University of Florida.

Both men knew the carving needed to go quickly to Gainesville, the state university system being the base of leading experts in prehistoric Florida.

Right away, scientists wondered at so rare a find: Could the image have been carved more recently into the rock-hard surface of the bone that is at least 10,000 years old? Could an indigenous Floridian from even the last millennium have chiseled an image of a creature that disappeared with the Ice Age?

The image looked old and worn and seemed similar to European cave paintings and to artifacts found far from the Americas, but was it authentic?

The bone, currently housed in a vault locally, first went to Barbara Purdy in early April. Even specialists can be fooled, but to her eyes, it looked quite real. “The thing that struck me at the beginning was, unlike forgeries generally, the image is not deep,” Purdy says. “It could easily be missed. It looked naturally worn, the way a coin does that has been handled a great deal, the image beginning to fade.”

Dr. Michael Warren, forensic anthropologist and director of the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida, has studied the incisions that form the image and the surface of the bone, and has found both to be “ancient.”

In May, Dr. Kevin Jones, the chairperson of the Material Science and Engineering Department at the University of Florida, as well as two other scientists working with him there, also examined the carving.

Using a method called energy dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy and a scanning electron microscope, they were able to study the object in tremendous detail. All three scientists concluded that both the carving and the bone’s surface were the same age, with no evidence of recent tampering.
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