Experts dig for ancient remains in Vero Beach

Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-05 08:41:48-05

Researchers in Vero Beach say they could be close to drastically changing what we know about how long ago humans migrated to North America, suggesting people could have been right here in Florida 14,000 years ago.

Right in the heart of Vero Beach you'll find scientists digging away in soil thousands of years old, dating back to the ice age.

But they're not the only ones unearthing pieces of ancient history.

Volunteer Xander Martin says, "We're finding bones. I was really lucky that I found one bone."

Here, just like the Martin family, anyone can volunteer to sift and search for remnants of prehistoric animals.

Volunteer Ian Martin says, "It's just amazing to see that creatures back 8,000, 10,000 years ago are in the ground."

In a separate tent, and digging a little deeper than the visitors, a team of professionals is working in a layer of soil more than 10,000 years old.   

Their goal is to change North American history as we know it.

100 years ago an anthropologist found human remains that appeared to be 14,000 years old at this site.

Since then, most scientists have written his findings off - saying there's no way humans were on this continent, much less in Florida, until about 6,000 years ago.

Lead archaeologist and FAU researcher Dr. Andy Hemmings believes his team can prove humans were here earlier than most people think.
Their rationale is that the soil they're digging in is 11,000 to 14,000 years old and it's charred throughout, appearing to have been burned by humans.

All Hemmings needs is to find a human bone, tooth, or even a tool in this layer of soil.
"We need just a little bit of luck at this point, to go from being convincing, equivocal, suggestive, to oh yeah, they were right there," Hemmings says.

As long as they're still looking, they'll keep taking volunteers to help them out.