Guarding Our Heritage

Fort Pierce, FL – A fence has finally been erected around a piece of land on the Treasure Coast that has great scientific importance. It's a prehistoric site on the Main Relief Canal south of the Vero Beach airport. In 1915, partial skeletons of ancient humans were found there. They were possibly 13-thousand years old. One set of remains, consisting of 44 bones, became known as "Vero Man." And I thought "Vero Man" was a retired gent in a blue blazer, khakis and slip-on boat shoes. But seriously. Interest in the Vero Man site was revived last year with the discovery of a fossilized bone not far away. On the bone is the sketch of a mastodon - perhaps the oldest work of art in the Americas. The bones from the Vero Man site were shipped hither and yon and not given the respect they deserved. Neither was the place where they were found. Souvenir hunters and vandals had easy access. Then a couple of months ago, the City of Vero Beach put up a six-foot chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. City Manager James Gabbard told me by e-mail that the city "is committed to protecting the site for future research initiatives." Now that Vero Man's homestead is secure, archaeologists can dig for more evidence of Treasure Coast residents who were here long before the gents in blue blazers. For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.

Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.