Archaeologists unearth Vero Beach's past

Has man been in our area for 13,000 years?

VERO BEACH, Fla. - With Florida expected to surpass 20 million residents soon, there's no question the Sunshine State is a popular place to live.

But how long has man known that?

A group of archaeologists are digging into that question just south of the Vero Beach airport.

The team, based out of Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., is sifting through history.

"When the main relief canal in Vero was excavated, human remains were turned up," explains Andy Hemmings the lead archaeologist.

That was in 1915.

Vero Man was found alongside extinct mastodons and other animals.

Hemmings' team is working to definitively determine if man and mastodon were actually here at the same time. 

"We want to know when the first people were here in Vero and how they made a living and where they came from and what they were up to," said Hemmings.

The archaeologists have been at it since January, and they'll be here until mid-May. Tours are offered at 1 p.m. every day except Wednesday.  And if you're interested, they'll put you to work.

Ed Elliott says he and his older brother used to dig along the same canal bank in the 1940s. He's volunteered at the site almost every day.

"It's remarkable the amount of material that's come out of here over all those years," said Elliott.    

On May 5, an artifact and fossil show will be held at the Vero Heritage Center on 14th Avenue from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  For more information on volunteering, click here.

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