Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 4 October, 2011

13,000-Year-Old Bone With Mammoth Or Mastodon Carving May Be First In Western Hemisphere
Condensed by Native Village

Florida: An ancient bone fragment carved with a mammoth or mastodon image has Vero Beach, Florida mapbeen discovered in Vero Beach. The image is about 3 inches long from head to tail and about 1 3/4 inches from head to foot.

The carving is at least 13,000 years old.

"It's pretty exciting, we haven't found anything like this in North America," said Dennis J. Stanford from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Humans hunted these animals, Stanford explained. "You see people drawing all kinds of pictures that are of relevance and importance to them," he added.

Dietrich Stout from Emory University agrees. "Much of the real significance of such finds is in the tangible, emotional connection they allow us to feel with people in the deep past," he said.

The carving was found near an excavation site where bones from humans and extinct Ice Age animals lay side-by-side. Since mammoths and mastodons had died out in the Americas 13,000 years ago, the carving has to be older than that.

The only other North American ancient bone carving of a mastodon came from Mexico in 1959. However, questions were raised about it's authenticity, and it has since disappeared.

While prehistoric art of animals with trunks has been found in Europe, this may be the first in the Western Hemisphere. The newly found Florida image is much like ancient carvings overseas. Stout said the similarities between this and ancient European art may imply some cultural contact or movement of people across the Atlantic.

This idea, however, has attracted a lot of criticism and skepticism from other archaeologists.

David J. Meltzer of Southern Methodist University was part of the study team. He doesn't  "for a moment, think the specimen begs any questions about the larger issue of the peopling of the Americas," he said. "It's just one specimen albeit an interesting one of uncertain age and provenance, so one should not get too carried away."

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