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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 08, 2009, 06:33:39 pm »

Bone find suggests humans on Treasure Coast 13,000 years ago

By Elliot Jones
June 8, 2009

- Treasure Coast amateur fossil collector James Kennedy appears to have made an unprecedented archaeological discovery that might help confirm a human presence here up to 13,000 years ago.

A 15-inch-long prehistoric bone fragment found near Vero Beach contains a crude engraving of a mammoth or mastodon on it, said Dr. Barbara Purdy, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Florida.

"It is humbling to realize that we are seeing what the hunter saw more than 13,000 years ago," Purdy said.

Tests so far have shown it to be genuine.

If so, it appears to be "the oldest, most spectacular and rare work of art in the Americas," she wrote in a report to other scientists.

The only comparable images are found in European cave paintings, she said in an interview Friday. The bone contains "the unmistakable incising of an ancient proboscidean [elephant]," she said.

Kennedy found the brown and tan bone two years ago and put it under his sink. About two months ago, he took it out for cleaning and spotted unusual lines. He had been considering selling it at a flea market.

Instead, he showed it to a fellow collector, William Roddenberry of Vero Beach, who was amazed. They took it to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville for examination.

When Kennedy learned it was so historically valuable, he said, "It blew me away. I was absolutely baffled."

The etched bone is being kept in a vault. The site where it was found isn't being disclosed.

"There could be so much more out there" from early people in Florida, he said.

The incised bone was picked up near where other collectors in 1915 apparently found ancient human bones near the bones of extinct animals, a find that launched a national scientific debate that hasn't been settled. That site is near the Indian River County Administration Building.

This month, a Florida State University archaeologist is leading a team that is taking soil samples from the site at the administration building. That is in preparation for a scientific excavation there next year to help try to settle whether or not humans co-existed here with mammoths and other extinct species.

The bones are from a drainage canal dug early last century through an ancient stream bed that once drained into the Indian River Lagoon. Through the decades, dozens of bones of long-extinct animals have been found there.

"The incising would have to be at least 13,000 years old because that is when the animals became extinct and more recent people would not have seen an elephant to etch," Purdy wrote in her report about the find. The etching is on bone from either a mammoth, mastodon or giant sloth.

Scientific experts she sent the report to all "expressed great excitement about the discovery of the unique specimen, but all of them, naturally, cautioned that its authenticity should be documented.''

So she had University of Florida scientists run tests that showed that the three-inch-long image wasn't recently made.

Those tests and some subjective factors "cause me to conclude that this object is not a fake," Purdy said.

"The incising is real," she said.

Next week, university researchers are expected to finish a test that will show whether the artifact is from Indian River County. They're comparing soils from the bone and the discovery site.

Archaeologists across the nation are excited by the discovery.

"There is nothing else like it," a piece of art dating to around the end of the last Ice Age in the New World, said Steven Holen, curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "It is one of the most spectacular finds in American archaeology in recent history."
« Last Edit: June 08, 2009, 07:03:56 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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