This category combines a few different scientific disciplines to create an understanding of all the forces that shaped the wild spaces in our area before European settlers developed and clearcut land. This is a landscape that took millions of years to create, and only a couple of hundreds of years to radically change. These stories compliment our coverage of ecosystem and watershed restoration efforts, where humans are trying to recreate what had once existed.
Our natural north Florida landscape contains many links to this area’s ancient past. Rivers like the Wacissa and Aucilla, for instance, are full of Paleo-Indian archaeological sites. One of those sites, the Aucilla’s Page Ladson, was recently dated to 14,500 years ago. This is earlier than people had been thought to have been in Florida, and is challenging notions about human migration into the Americas. Florida waterways may contain further clues to the early settlement of our continent.
We also explore more contemporary indigenous people, looking at native groups present during the first European contacts with our area to today. This allows use to try and paint a picture of how people lived and developed culture over the millennia. By learning how people lived on our natural landscape over this time, we can create a fuller picture of what our ecosystems looked like in a time before they were altered by clearcutting and development.
In some cases, Florida waterways expose fossils from millions of years ago, as we saw along the Apalachicola River at Alum Bluff.