Florida divers Derek Demeter and Henry Sadler found a four-meter, 50-pound mammoth femur embedded in the sand at the bottom of the Mir River last Sunday. In an interview with Orlando Sentinel, they called it a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.
“When you find this fossil and realize that there are giant, elephant-like creatures roaming around a once-likely pasture in Florida, it gives you a sense of wonder what it was like in ancient times,” said Demeter, director of Emil Buhler’s Planetarium. college in Seminol, he said. “It’s kind of like our way of traveling through time. It blows your imagination.”
The couple originally intended to head to Venice to look for shark teeth that day, April 25, but strong winds held them back, Sadler told NBC2. Instead, the diving friends decided to dive into the Mir River, a waterway located in the city of Arcadia.
“[Henry] He came out and he said, “Derek, I found something amazing,” and he just went crazy, “Demeter said.” When I saw him, I couldn’t believe it. I was in denial.
They both suggest that the bone belonged to a Colombian mammoth. Such a tall “man will have to stand on the second floor of a building to touch his head,” according to the National Park Service, Colombian mammoths inhabited Florida between 2.6 million and 10,000 years ago. Predation from humans may have contributed to their extinction, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
“This one is much denser, so somehow we think it’s somewhere in the middle. Probably 100,000 years old,” Demeter told FOX 35 Orlando about the bone. In an Instagram post, Sadler, who found mammoth teeth in the river on a previous occasion, described him as “almost completely unharmed and very well mineralized.”
While Sadler and Demeter usually donate their fossils to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Sadler, a high school teacher in St. Petersburg, placed the mammoth bone in his classroom to teach his students about the life of Ice Age animals. There, “they can see it, touch it, feel it and really get a history of the natural world,” he told the Sentinel.
“They’ve heard of saber-toothed tigers and have actually found a piece of one of these animals and revived it for these children – it’s just great,” he said.
In addition to the mammoth bone, Demeter and Sadler also found the remains of an ancient shark and the tip of a saber-toothed tiger dog while diving, according to FOX 35.