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Unearthing Our Ice Age History

A fresh dig at the Old Vero Site will offer new clues to our distant past.

Pam Cooper, Supervisor of the Archives Center & Genealogy Department at the Indian River County Main Library, has compiled a traveling exhibit that tells the story of the Old Vero Site up to the present.

Pam Cooper, Supervisor of the Archives Center & Genealogy Department at the Indian River County Main Library, has compiled a traveling exhibit that tells the story of the Old Vero Site up to the present.

Sometime next year, successive waves of archeologists, paleontologists and volunteer worker bees will start descending the banks of the Main Relief Canal behind the county administrative complex for an exacting, mostly teaspoon-by-teaspoon dig in the dirt. The quest: to find fossils and artifacts to complement a dispersed collection of earlier findings from the Old Vero Site – most notably, human bones found alongside remains of extinct Ice Age animals in an excavation conducted nearly a century ago.

The modern-day excavation is being championed by the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee (OVIASC), a growing local group with about 45 dues-paying members. It was formed in late 2009 after antique appraiser and auctioneer Ron Rennick introduced the citizenry to the Ice Age-era mammalian bone fragment discovered within walking distance of the Old Vero Site. Rennick now co-chairs OVIASC with Sandra Rawls, a trained zoologist who formerly worked at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The 13,000-year-old-plus artifact, with an incised image of a mammoth or mastodon, is the oldest and only Ice Age art of its kind in the Americas. The discovery, scientifically authenticated by researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and UF, was made by avocational fossil hunter James Kennedy of Vero Beach. Kennedy plans to sell the artifact, which Rennick says could fetch “possibly millions” at auction.

Read the entire article in the December 2011 issue