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This book presents the multidisciplinary results of an extensive underwater excavation in north Florida which yields the most complete results of interactions between early Paleoindians and late Pleistocene megafauna, especially Mammut americanum (American Mastodon), in a rich environmental context in eastern North America. It provides fundamental insights into two urgent issues: "The Peopling of the Americas"; and "The Extinction of the Megafauna". The authors describe and illustrate their unique methods of precise underwater excavations. They show how these techniques allowed them to collect a diversity of zoological, botanical and cultural material with outstanding organic preservation. This wealth of prehistoric evidence was recovered during twenty years of delving into an ancient sinkhole in the bottom of the Aucilla River. The nearly continuous sequence of fine-grained sediments, with an abundance of carbon dates, place the climatic and environmental history of this area in a global context of late glacial climatic cycles. The deepest strata produce clear evidence that the first Floridians lived and hunted here some 14,000 years ago, indicating that this southeastern culture preceded classic Clovis culture in western North America. Clever studies of stable isotopes tell that the Mastodons migrated north out of Florida into glacial terrain during the winter and spring and their digesta, which also contain steroids and epithelial cells, display a rich summer diet. The last section of the book provides a wealth of new evidence from the early Holocene about the flora and climate and how early Archaic people subsisted after the megafauna became extinct. An excellent color photo section expresses the unique setting and adventure of this project, extensively supported by National Geographic Society. "A monument of interdisciplinary scientific analysis and reporting, and absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the early human settlement of the Americas." David G. Anderson, Department of Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA. "An excellent array of interdisciplinary studies conducted at an important site offering new and exciting clues on the origins of the First Americans" Dr. Stanford, Department of Archeology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA
From the contentsSection A: Geology.- Section B: Paleobotany.- Section C: Late Pleistocene Evidence.- Section D: Early Holocene Evidence.- Section E: Conclusions.
During four decades of service to the Florida Museum of Natural History, David Webb led paleontological excavations at two dozen major sites within the Late Cenozoic Era. Some of these, including the Aucilla River Prehistory Project, involved unique SCUBA excavations yielding extraordinary wet-site preservation. Professor Webb served as President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Guggenheim Fellow in western Europe, Visiting Professor of Geology at Yale University, and Distinguished Visiting Curator at the Field Museum in Chicago. He has conducted field work in Central and South America, Africa, China and Australia. He has edited or authored six books, and written some 200 scientific papers. Outstanding specialists from other leading universities, U of Colorado, Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Santa Cruz, Stanford, and Texas have lent their expertise to this extraordinary project.
From the reviews: "A monument of interdisciplinary scientific analysis and reporting, and absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the early human settlement of the Americas." David G. Anderson, Dept. of Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA. "An excellent array of interdisciplinary studies conducted at an important site offering new and exciting clues on the origins of the First Americans" Dr. Stanford, Dept. of Archeology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA "This impressive volume represents the culmination of over 20 years of underwater archaeological and paleontological research on one of the most significant Paleoindian sites in the southeastern United States. ! The many important contributions in this volume have made tremendous progress toward that goal. ! I highly recommend First Floridians and Last Mastodons to anyone interested in Paleoindian archaeology, late Pleistocene paleontology, or Quaternary paleoecology and climate change. It is certain to become an important reference work in those fields." (Gary S. Morgan, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, Vol. 15, 2008) "This collective, edited work represents the culmination of 20 years of research, collection, and management of one of the most productive, underwater paleontological sites in the southeastern US ! . The book is a fine addition to the library for those of us concerned with Pleistocene and Holocene aspects of the fossil record. ! Certainly the book will appeal to academics, scientists and researchers in the fields of geology, paleontology, archaeology, biology, and ecology." (D. M. Jarzen, AASP Newsletter, Vol. 41 (3), 2008)