That’s a rare find in Florida! A giant bone of a Mammoth dating back to the Ice Age was just found in the Peace River near Arcadia this week. The 4-foot, 50-pound bone is well over 10,000 years old!
For two Florida scuba divers, ancient history resurfaced when they discovered a 4-foot, 50-pound mammoth bone dating back to the ice age.
Derek Demeter and Henry Sadler, both avid explorers and amateur paleontologists, made their big discovery when diving in the dark waters of the Peace River near Arcadia on April 25.
“[Henry] came up, and he’s like, ‘Derek, I found something amazing,’ and he’s just freaking out,” said Demeter, the planetarium director at Seminole State College. “When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I was in denial. It was really neat to see that be discovered.”
The leg bone once belonged to a Columbian mammoth, a short-haired elephant-like creature that wandered Florida during the Pleistocene era — between 2.6 million and 10,000 years ago. Other megafauna roamed during this ice age, including giant sloths, large armadillo-like creatures called glyptodons, American lions, bears and dire wolves.
Saber-toothed tigers also roamed during this time, as evidenced by a fossil unearthed by Sadler on the same day as the mammoth bone discovery.
“There’s only the top third of it, so it’s missing quite a bit,” said Salder, a middle school teacher in St. Petersburg. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime find, as is the mammoth leg bone. Derek and I seem to be pretty lucky together.”
Though the pair have gone diving all over the Sunshine State, the Peace River has proved a treasure trove for all kinds of fossils.
“You have mammoths and giant sloths mixed in with marine animals that existed in earlier time periods — you have big megalodon shark teeth and others like tiger sharks,” Demeter said. “We’ve found scallop shells, barnacles, shark teeth, fish teeth, stingray spines and all kinds of things.”
Finding these fossils underwater isn’t easy — the divers risk encounters with alligators and water moccasins to uncover these ancient hidden gems. But the work becomes worth it when contributing to science, Sadler said.
“This helps the scientists put together an idea of where these mammoths were traveling, their range and habitat,” he said. “It’s all about painting a picture of the past, getting that window and little bit of insight.”
Plus, Demeter added, it’s a way of returning to an earlier time period without utilizing a DeLorean.
“When you uncover this fossil and realize there were these giant, elephant-like creatures roaming around what was probably once a grassland in Florida, it gives you a sense of wonder for what it was like back in ancient times,” he said. “It’s kind of like our way of time traveling. It makes your imagination go wild.”
Following an earlier dive by Sadler in the Peace River that yielded other leg bones, pieces of mammoth jaw and vertebra, the specimens were donated to the Florida Museum of Natural History. This time, the big bone will serve as a teaching aid, helping to bring textbook concepts to life.
“It’s currently sitting in the classroom where the kids are able to see it, touch it, feel it and really get a history of the natural world,” Sadler said. “I talk to my kids about the movie ‘Ice Age.’ … They’ve heard about saber-toothed tigers and actually finding a piece of one of those animals and bringing it to life for those kids; it’s just awesome.”
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This is indeed awesome… I love dinosaurs and any ancient giant creatures… [Orlando Sentinel]
Learn more about mammoths here…
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