"In the heart of the Treasure Coast, a team of archeologists is poring over a 14,000-year-old site that could completely rewrite the prehistory of the state and, to some extent, the prehistory of humankind in the New World.
But it took a last-minute intervention by Florida Atlantic University to assure The Old Vero Man site would be around to reveal its mysteries.
The dig's story began a century ago, with the Indian River Farms Company dredging a canal in a backwater called Vero in 1913 — the actual town of Vero Beach wouldn't exist for another six years. The dredging turned up old bones and other artifacts, which in turn drew the attention of state geologist Elias Sellards. He excavated over the next couple years, turning up more evidence of ancient human habitation.
Given the depth of the artifacts and the layers of rock around them, Sellards put human habitation in the area at 14,000 years ago, and was promptly laughed out of the archaeology business.
Back then, the prevailing thought was that people hadn't been in America before the last Ice Age, had not coexisted in the New World with mammoths, mastodons and other now-extinct Ice Age animals. A few decades later, in the 1930s, arrowheads and other artifacts from what experts called the Clovis culture meant that people had been in America some 11,000 years ago — still not ancient enough for Sellards' theory to hold water."