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Reevaluation of the Alexon Bison Kill Site, Wacissa River, Jefferson County, Florida

Authors:
  • Aucilla Research Institute
Cite as:
Mihlbachler, M. C., C.A. Hemmings, and S. D. Webb. 2000. A reevaluation of the
Alexon Bison Kill Site, Wacissa River, Jefferson County, Florida. Current Research in
the Pleistocene 17: 55-57.
... In 1981, ex situ pieces of a Bison antiquus skull were discovered at the Alexon site (8JE570), which is submerged under 2.4 m of water in the Wacissa River, Florida (Figure 1; Mihlbachler, Hemmings, and Webb 2000;Webb et al. 1984). These pieces were refit to reconstruct a large portion of the upper skull. ...
... These pieces were refit to reconstruct a large portion of the upper skull. Embedded in the right frontoparietal region of the cranium is a lithic object identified as Suwannee chert that is interpreted to be the mid-section of a lanceolate projectile point that was intentionally driven into the skull (Figure 2; Mihlbachler, Hemmings, and Webb 2000;Webb et al. 1984). The lithic object is reported to be biconvex in cross-section, but flake scars typically found on lithic projectile points are absent on the lithic object. ...
... The lithic object is reported to be biconvex in cross-section, but flake scars typically found on lithic projectile points are absent on the lithic object. The pattern of negative flake scars that presumably once existed on the projectile point are suggested to have sheared from both faces when the projectile point stuck the skull, were removed by weathering processes, or a combination of both (Mihlbachler, Hemmings, and Webb 2000;Webb et al. 1984). The reported chert projectile point was suggested to most likely be part of a Clovis, Simpson, or Suwannee projectile point based solely on the cross-section morphology and width of the fragment (Mihlbachler, Hemmings, and Webb 2000;Webb et al. 1984). ...
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A chert object embedded in the cranium of a bison found at the Alexon site, Florida, is cited as direct evidence of human and megafauna interaction at the end of the Pleistocene in the American Southeast. Previous analyses identified the chert object as the mid-section of a lanceolate projectile point. Radiocarbon ages on unpurified bison collagen from two separate bison elements yielded Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene ages. We were able to relocate the site and examine the stratigraphy, but our attempts to radiocarbon date the bone failed. We obtained micro-computed tomography scans and used digital imaging software to generate a three-dimensional rendering of the embedded object. Finally, the skull and embedded object were visually examined. We conclude that the object embedded in the skull is not an artifact and that the Alexon site is a paleontological locality.
... Alexon, Florida:Webb et al. (1984) document a fragmented and reconstructed Bison antiquus skull within a gravel bar in the Wacissa River that includes a portion of a chert biface embedded in the right fronto-parietal.Mihlbachler et al. (2000) tentatively identify it as a Clovis, Simpson, or Suwannee projectile point, which coincides with the Late Pleistocene age of other dated Bison antiquus remains. However, the radiocarbon dates obtained from the site at this point are from other Bison elements recovered nearby that are not necessarily from the same individual (at least tw ...
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The first human groups in southeastern North America would have faced a very different landscape than we see today. Although glaciers were receding, and even at the furthest southern extent were located far to the north, late Pleistocene climate changes had a significant effect on vegetation and faunal communities in the southeastern US. This chapter reviews the record of changes in climate, vegetation communities, and mammal communities across the southeastern US over the last glacial period (71-11.5 ka) with particular attention to geographic trends in vegetation responses to changing climates, regional patterns in mammal biodiversity, the chronology of megafaunal extinctions, and localities with human-megafaunal associations. Book Chapter (in press) in D. Shane Miller, Ashley M. Smallwood, and Jesse W. Tune (book editors), "The American Southeast at the End of the Ice Age." Archaeology of the American South: New Directions and Perspectives Series. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
... The evidence for human predation is much more compelling at the Alexon (or Wacissa River) site, where an object that appears to be part of a projectile point was found embedded in a bison cranium (Webb et al., 1983(Webb et al., , 1984Mihlbachler et al., 2000). This object is made of chert and has been identified based on its cross section as likely either ''a Clovis, Simpson, or Suwannee point'' (Mihlbachler et al., 2000, p. 56). ...
Article
North American archaeologists have spent much effort debating whether Early Paleoindian foragers were specialized hunters of megafauna or whether they pursued more generalized subsistence strategies. In doing so, many have treated the foraging practices of early North Americans as if they must have been uniform across the continent, even though others have pointed out that adaptations appear to have varied among groups inhabiting different kinds of environments. Resolving these issues fully requires referring to archaeofaunal data and evaluating those data critically. In this paper, we conduct such an evaluation of the existing Early Paleoindian faunal record, which we then use to test the hypothesis that early Americans across the continent specialized in the hunting of megafauna. After detailed attention is given to taphonomic issues, to the limited geographical distribution of sites with secure associations between humans and prey taxa, and to differences among sites in the roles that they likely played in settlement and subsistence systems, it becomes clear that the faunal record provides little support for the idea that all, or even any, Early Paleoindian foragers were megafaunal specialists. It does appear, however, that there was considerable variability in Early Paleoindian prey choice across the continent, which was likely related to variability in the environments that different groups inhabited.
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