Washington, June 8 (ANI): An amateur fossil collector has discovered a 15-inch-long prehistoric bone fragment in Treasure Coast, Florida, which might help confirm a human presence here up to 13,000 years ago.
The ancient bone, found by local amateur fossil collector James Kennedy near Vero Beach, contains a crude engraving of a mammoth or mastodon on it.
"It is humbling to realize that we are seeing what the hunter saw more than 13,000 years ago," said Dr. Barbara Purdy, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Florida.
Tests so far have shown it to be genuine.
If so, it appears to be "the oldest, most spectacular and rare work of art in the Americas," Purdy wrote in a report to other scientists.
The only comparable images are found in European cave paintings, she said in an interview. The bone contains "the unmistakable incising of an ancient proboscidean (elephant)," she said.
Kennedy found the brown and tan bone two years ago and put it under his sink. About two months ago, he took it out for cleaning and spotted unusual lines.
He had been considering selling it at a flea market. Instead, he showed it to a fellow collector, William Roddenberry of Vero Beach, who was amazed.
They took it to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville for examination.
When Kennedy learned it was so historically valuable, he said, "It blew me away. I was absolutely baffled."
The etched bone is being kept in a vault.
"The incising would have to be at least 13,000 years old because that is when the animals became extinct and more recent people would not have seen an elephant to etch," Purdy wrote in her report about the find.
The etching is on bone from either a mammoth, mastodon or giant sloth.
Scientific experts she sent the report to all "expressed great excitement about the discovery of the unique specimen, but all of them, naturally, cautioned that its authenticity should be documented."'
So, she had University of Florida scientists run tests that showed that the three-inch-long image wasn't recently made.
Those tests and some subjective factors "cause me to conclude that this object is not a fake," Purdy said. "The incising is real," she added. (ANI)