I found this to be very exciting news when it was first announced. The image of a mammoth was found on a Florida beach, carved into a mastodon bone. It was dated back at least 13,000 years, which makes it the oldest artwork yet found in the Western Hemisphere. However, there was some division on whether it was a modern fake or the real deal; new analysis points to the latter.
The team compared elements in the engraved bones with others from the site, which once hosted giant beasts and nomadic bands of Ice Age hunters.
The scientists also observed the etching via optical and electron microscopy, which revealed “no discontinuity in coloration between the carved grooves and the surrounding material,” according to a statement. This suggests that both surfaces aged at the same time, and that the grooves were not made more recently with metal tools.
Scientists also determined the 15-inch-long (38-centimeter-long) bone fragment had belonged to one of three animals: a mammoth, a mastodon, or a giant sloth—all of which died out in the region at the end of the last ice age, between about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Story: Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic News | Photo: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institute