Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Flintstones Lived In Florida? ::: Smithsonian does not dispute authenticity of find in Vero Beach

A 13,000 year-old etching of a woolly mammoth found on a bone near Vero Beach... hmmm...

VERO BEACH — The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has found no reason to dispute the authenticity of an one-of-a-kind archaeological discovery that might help confirm a human presence here up to 13,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.

In early 2009, local fossil collector James Kennedy cleaned off an old bone he found two years earlier and noticed some lines on it — lines that turned out to be a clear etching of a walking mammoth with tusks.

The location where he found it hasn’t been disclosed, except that it came from an area north of Vero Beach.

University of Florida researchers scrutinized the four-inch etching on the 15-inch prehistoric bone with an electron microscope and their tests showed it to be apparently genuine.

In May, Kennedy took the bone to the National Museum of Natural History for further studies. There Smithsonian Institution archaeologists made a copy and used advanced techniques to look at the etching.

“We have found no traces that would indicate that a (modern) metal tool was used to carve the bone,” said the institution’s Dennis Stanford, who specializes in early North American archaeology.

“While we see no evidence that it is a forgery” the institution doesn’t authenticate objects unless they are donated to the museum, Stanford wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Kennedy is keeping the bone in hopes of selling it by auction.

“I want to auction it to the person with the most money, although I would rather it go to a museum,” Kennedy said.

It is presumed to be the oldest known art object of its type found in the New World, said Richard Hulbert, a paleontologist with the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.

The person who created the etching, presumably with a shark tooth or flint implement, had to have seen a live animal to have drawn it in such detail, he said.

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