A dolphin skull has been discovered at Miami's mysterious stone Indian ruins, the first such discovery at an archaeological site outside the Pacific Northwest, officials said Friday.
The muddy-brown colored skull, which an archaeologist put together from 100 parts found in the ruins, was nestled among the remains of a shark and a sea turtle, said Bob Carr, a director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy.
The bottleneck dolphin's skull and other remains were laid upon an east-west axis in the Miami Circle, which is believed to have been used as a trading post by the Tequesta Indians along the Miami River.
The way the findings were aligned makes archaeologists believe they could possibly have been made as a spiritual offering, Carr said.
Archaeologist Alison Elgart-Berry spent three weeks reconstructing the skull dome and a portion of the dolphin's beak. Cut marks and pieces missing at the top of the dome suggest the cranium may have been used as a mask, the dolphin had been butchered or it was used for some ceremonial purpose, Elgart-Berry said.
"It shows the Tequesta in their cosmology were really connected to the sea," said Elgart-Berry, noting the remains could have been offered for success in fishing.
The state and Miami-Dade County bought the 2.2-acre property for $26.7-million after the circle was discovered in 1998 when an apartment complex was torn down. Archaeologists say Tequesta Indians carved the 38-foot circle into limestone 2,000 years ago. They believe it was the base of a large building.