Don't believe "creationists" when they tell you that early man cavorted with dinosaurs--the big lizards died off millions of years before we came along. But a new study that determined the age of skeletal remains provides evidence that when humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age, they lived alongside gigantic mammals that are now extinct, including mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths.
The theory centers around the question of whether human and mammal remains found at Vero Beach in the early 1900s date to the same time period. Anthropologist Barbara Purdy says, "The Vero site is still the only site where there was an abundance of actual human bones, not just artifacts, associated with the animals. Scientists who disputed the age of the human remains in the early 20th century just did not want to believe that people were in the Western Hemisphere that early."
The little information known about the first humans to appear in North America is primarily based on bone fragments and artifacts, such as stone points used for hunting. Other sites in California, Montana and Texas show human presence around the same time period based on artifacts, but two nearly complete human skeletons were discovered at the Vero Beach site.
Following discovery of the fossils in South Florida between 1913 and 1916, some prominent scientists convinced researchers that the human skeletons were from more recent burials and not as old as the animals, a question that remained unanswered because no dating methods existed at the time. The same argument is still being promulgated in some "creationist" natural history museums.
But paleontologist Bruce MacFadden says, "These are the beginnings of the people of America."
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