In what a top Florida anthropologist is calling â€œthe oldest, most spectacular and rare work of art in the Americas,â€ an amateur Vero Beach fossil hunter has found an ancient bone etched with a clear image of a walking mammoth or mastodon.
According to leading 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 brown, mineral-hardened bone bearing the unique carving is a foot-long fragment from a larger bone that belonged to an extinct â€œmammoth, mastodon or ground slothâ€ according to Dr. Richard C. Hulbert, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History museum. These animals have been extinct in Florida for at least 10,000 years.
Etched into the bone by a highly sharpened stone tool or the tooth of the animal is the clear image of a walking adult mammoth or mastodon. Extensive tests over the past two months have shown that the image was created when the bone was fresh, presumably right after the animal it belonged to was killed or died.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers