Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oldest Ice Age animal art found at Vero Beach, Fl

Vero Beach, Florida – The recent discovery of an incised mammoth bone depicting by intaglio one of the beasts electrified this seaside town on the Treasure Coast.

Located just south of famed Cape Canaveral and an hour's drive north of Palm Beach, the town is a retirement mecca, headquarters of Piper Aircraft, the former winter home of the Dodgers, and a major citrus growing area on the Indian River.

The bone fragment is believed to be about 13,000 years old, the oldest and first of its type to have been found in North America, according to Dennis J. Stanford, curator of North American Archeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, co-author of a report that appeared in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Cave paintings showing animals have been found in Texas, but those were dated to about 4,000 years in the past – much more recent than the scrimshawed bone.

The image carved on it is about 3 inches long from head to tail and is about 1¾ inch high from head to foot.

Because the bone material is heavily mineralized, it was impossible to date it through standard means of carbon 14 dating, but it is known that mammoths died out 13,000 years ago, so it's got to be older than that, according to the experts.

The bone fragment was found near the Old Vero Site, a place extensively excavated during the period 1913-16, where human bones were found side by side with the bones of extinct Ice Age animals.

“There was considerable skepticism expressed about the authenticity of the incising on the bone until it was examined exhaustively by archaeologists paleontologists, forensic anthropologists, materials science engineers and artists, said Barbara Purdy, lead author of the article and a professor at the University of Florida.

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