Saturday, May 10, 2008

Scuba Divers' Find Could Rewrite History

It's not every day that a scuba diving session produces a 12,000-year-old, history-re-writing fossil.

Our history books may be wrong. Archaeologists have found signs of stone-age humans who were not supposed to exist in Sarasota County's Little Salt Springs.

The springs act as a pre-historic time capsule because there is very little oxygen in the water to rot whatever falls in.

"We're working on something that can have a big impact on the whole archaeological world," said Florida Aquarium spokesman and dive participant Tom Wagner.

Divers expected to find interesting fossils. But they also found signs of early humans that carbon date back 12,000 years.

Humans are commonly believed to have developed in Africa, and then spread through Eurasia, and into America through Alaska.

"The current belief is that there was a land-bridge 12,000 years ago, humans migrated south and did not get here (in Florida) until 9,000 years ago," explained Wagner.

That's where the divers in Sarasota may have just re-written pre-history. They found a 12,000-year-old wooden spear.

"The basic question is how did they get here. They could not have come across the land bridge. They had to come another way," said Wagner. "If I'm part of something that rewrites history, it's something you remember for the rest of your life."

That's why divers will soon hunt for the people who made those spears. In July, Tom Wagner will join a team of divers and archaeologists for the hunt of a lifetime. They'll go back to the same ledge where they found that spear and look for actual human remains that will also carbon date 12,000 years.

"The better we understand where we came from, the better we understand where we are going," said Wagner.

Divers have already found ancient spear tips and pre-historic animal bones in Little Salt Springs. Some of those fossils are now on display at the Florida Aquarium.

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