Native Village Youth and Education News
September 2009


 Epic carving on fossil bone found in Vero Beach
By Sandra Rawls

Condensed by Native Village

Florida: In what a top Florida anthropologist is calling “the oldest, most spectacular and rare work of art in the Americas,” an ancient bone etched with a clear image of a walking mammoth or mastodon was found in Vero Beach.

According to experts from the University of Florida, the remarkable find demonstrates with new and startling certainty that humans coexisted with prehistoric animals more than 12,000 years ago in this fossil- rich region of the state.

No similar carved figure has ever been authenticated in the United States, or anywhere in this hemisphere.

The bone bearing the unique carving is a foot-long fragment from a larger bone that belonged to an extinct “mammoth, mastodon or ground sloth, "said Dr. Richard C. Hulbert from the Florida Museum of Natural History. These animals have been extinct in Florida for at least 10,000 years.

The bone was etched using highly sharpened stone tool or animal tooth. Tests show that the image was created when the bone was fresh, presumably right after the animal it belonged to was killed or died. The carving and surface are of the same age – 12,000 to 14,000 years old.

“Never before in the Western Hemisphere, has there been a bone from an extinct species incised with a recognizable picture of an animal,” said Dr. Barbara Purdy from the University of Florida. “It would be ancient evidence that people living in the Americas during the last Ice Age created artistic images of the animals they hunted."

“I did everything in my power to show this thing was a fake," she added.  "I was not going to stick my neck out on something this rare unless I was as sure as you can be in science.”

photos: © 2009, VERO BEACH 32963

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