Pic: Florida divers find Columbian mammoth leg bone from Ice Age-era at the bottom of a river

Columbian mammoth (No Author/WikiCommons)

Florida beaches give up all sorts of, well, treasures.

Sometimes you find bales of drugs valued at over a million. (Not that you get to keep it.) A naval sea mine washed ashore along Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in April. And just a month prior, U.S. military target drone washed ashore on the beach at Ocean Ridge Hammock Park.

But what Derek Demeter, the director of Seminole State College’s Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium, and his pal Henry Sadler, a Florida school teacher, discovered embedded in the sand while scuba diving Peace River in Arcadia on April 25, has been waiting to be found for a long time.

The pair uncovered a giant Columbian mammoth leg bone — dating from the Ice Age period. How long has the 4-foot-long, 50-pound body part been sitting under sand and water? Try no less than 10,000 years. Maybe 2.6 million. That’s when these giant furry Columbian mammoth ancestors to the elephant roamed free, according to the National Park Service. The exact age isn’t clear, but Demeter puts their femur find at about 100,000 years old, he told Fox 35 Orlando.

“This one’s much more dense, so we kind of think it’s somewhere in the middle,” he told the age of the thigh bone that once carried the giant beast across Florida’s prehistoric savanna grasslands.

“It has been such an amazing experience to share it with so many people,” Demeter told the Miami Herald.

“When you uncover this fossil and realize there were these giant, elephant-like creatures roaming around what was probably once a grassland in Florida, it gives you a sense of wonder for what it was like back in ancient times,” he noted to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s kind of like our way of time traveling. It makes your imagination go wild.”

Sadler and Demeter’s previous fossil discoveries are at the Florida Museum of Natural History. But this Columbian mammoth’s leg bone is in Sadler’s classroom at Admiral Farragut Academy where he teaches science at the St. Petersburg school. There, it helps give his students a real feel for the Ice Age and its animal life. His students are “able to see it, touch it, feel it and really get a history of the natural world,” Sadler told the Orlando Sentinel.


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