Located south of Tampa on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Sarasota is a city commonly known as the winter home of the Ringling Brother Circus. Though it might seem like nothing more than the average city, Sarasota holds mysteries and remnants from ancient civilization unbeknownst to date. The city is home to 319 discovered archeological sites and surprisingly, 66 contain traces of human remains.
It was Colonel William Royal, an avid diver, who discovered the human remains in the North Port’s Warm Mineral Spring in 1959. He was accompanied by marine biologist Dr. Eugenie Clark who went on to create Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory.
Human Remains in Sarasota
Dr. Clark and Royal were shocked when they discovered human bones that were lodged into the muddy walls of the spring, only 35 feet from the surface. Underwater archaeology was definitely uncommon back in the day so they did what they thought was right – called in a reporter. The camera crew from NBC responded and during the reporting, Royal came across something unexpected: a human skull with a preserved brain.
It was the spring’s mineral-rich water that played a major role in preserving the brain. The skeleton was estimated to be around 7000 years old and some of the bones were dated back to 10000 to 11500 years – this turned out to be the earliest human remains found in North America.
One Step Too Far
While Royal had made an interesting discovery, he continued to scrap the spring’s walls and pulled out 7 to 8 skeletons including human remains, giant sloths, mastodons, and a list of other things. Since the springs were a privately owned tourist attraction, these bones were placed in the hands of the tourists who mishandled them beyond the point of traceability, and some of the bones were taken by Royal himself to place into his fireplace as trophies.
Archeologists weren’t the biggest fans of Royal for removing these remains himself. It was because of Royal’s action that they were unable to chart their position or analyze them at all. Bill Royal claimed that he was left with no choice since no one would’ve believed him if he didn’t pull them out. However, the fact remains that thousands of sites are being damaged this way and traces of ancient civilizations vanishing because of it.