FOSSIL DISCOVERY AT MONKEY JUNGLE
HELPS SOLVE ANCIENT MYSTERIES
Miami, Florida--The richest fossil deposit in Southern Florida, including evidence linking the 10,000-year-old Paleo Indians to South Florida, has been unearthed at South Dade's historic Monkey Jungle tourist attraction by an archaeological team headed by Dade County archaeologist Robert S. Carr.
More than 5,000 specimens, representing one of the largest quantities of Pleistocene fossil bones and teeth, have been discovered at four sites located within the 30-acre tourist attraction, which originally opened in 1933 as North America's first colony of free-ranging monkeys and is located within a hardwood hammock on a relic Pleistocene limestone dome.
Key finds include bone and shell tools, burnt bones--evidence of cooking--and thousands of bones from extinct animals such as the short-faced cave bear, Pleistocene horse, saber tooth tiger, camel, bison and dire wolf.
The fossils are factual evidence of the area's biological diversity and provide clues as to when certain animals migrated to this part of the continent. They will also be part of a scientific inventory for future nationwide DNA studies.
Since many of the species that once roamed South Florida failed to survive the area's dramatic climate changes since the end of the last Ice Age, the finds at Monkey Jungle are a window to this important part of our past, Carr said.
"These exciting discoveries present physical evidence of everything that lived in the region, providing data that enables us to better reconstruct South Florida's environment 5,000 years before the creation of the Everglades or Biscayne Bay," said Carr.
Carr and a team of students and volunteers have spent the last three months at Monkey Jungle examining three 10-foot-deep solution holes within the site's limestone bedrock and sediments dredged from an alligator hole at the attraction in the 1960s and left untouched until their recent re-discovery. Previous studies in the 1970s had indicated that thousands of specimens should be preserved there.
Third-generation Monkey Jungle owners Sharon and Frank DuMond received a grant from the State of Florida's Division of Historical Resources for clean-up following Hurricane Andrew, which caused extensive damage to Monkey Jungle in August 1992.
"We were concerned about possible damage to the fossil deposits during the reconstruction process, and sought assistance from archaeologists and others who would conduct an environmentally sensitive clean-up by hand," said Sharon DuMond, who also operates the DuMond Conservancy as a center for primate research and education.
A museum and other new exhibits at Monkey Jungle are planned to help visitors understand and appreciate the attraction's importance as an archaeological landmark.
Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm, Monkey Jungle is located at 14805 S.W. 216 Street in Miami. For information, call (305) 235-1611.|
Bed and Breakfast Inns