Science

Florida Sinkhole Discovery A Game Changer For Palaeontologists?

By Melvin Alfred Wong , May 16, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

The sinkhole found in Florida could overturn the accepted theory that prehistoric humans arrived in the Americas around 13,000 years ago as stated in the Land Bridge Theory. Compelling evidence discovered in the sinkhole suggests that humans actually started living in the southern state more than 14,500 years ago; a full 1,500 earlier than previously thought.

Located south of Tallahassee in the Aucilla River, the sinkhole is 200ft wide and has a depth of 35ft. The site was already known to archeologists for years, but it wasn't until recently that divers went into the sinkhole and found traces of ancient humans.

For decades, the majority of scientists accepted that the first humans to explore the Americas were the Clovis people; named after Clovis, New Mexico where spearheads were found among fossilized mammoth bones. The discovery does not discredit the theory as a whole, but it does support the narrative of some groups that the arrival of humans on the continent is more complex than the majority of scientists supposed. Even with the compelling evidence found in the sinkhole, however, many in the scientific community are still resisting the idea that there were humans in the continent before the Clovis people came along.

Among the artifacts found on the site are a stone knife and a "biface," which Professor Jessi Halligan insisted could not have been natural and could only have been made by humans. Prof. Halligan is a scientist employed by Florida State University. She has dived into the sinkhole over 126 times.

Other items present in the sinkhole include mastodon bones as well as traces of fossilized dung. At this point, the conjecture is that the sinkhole was just a watering hole 14,500 years ago where local animals would go to drink. Hunting would have therefore only meant waiting for prey to come around for the early humans.

"They were very smart about local plants and local animals and migration patterns," Halligan said.

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