“Soon May the Wellerman Come To Bring Us Sugar and Tea and Rum … “

Alright, unless you’ve been living on a deserted island and have never seen TikTok (or if you don’t know any fifth-graders), you’ve probably heard this song and clapped along with it. “The Wellerman” was a viral sensation that broke the Internet in 2021 and has since spawned what seems to be a million different versions in all sorts of musical styles (there is even a version by the Vienna Boys Choir). Though written at least 150 years ago, the catchy little earworm managed to hit the Number One slot on the music service Spotify in 2021.

But “The Wellerman” has an interesting story behind it.

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Florida’s Terror Birds

Most people today know that modern birds are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs, and survived the great mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period that killed off all the non-avian dinos. But few people know that, for a brief time in what is now the Americas, after the dinosaurs were wiped out, it was birds that assumed their position as super-predators at the top of the food chain.

Titanis skeleton at the Florida Museum of Natural History

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Florida Bushcraft: Bone and Antler Tools

Like Native American tribes everywhere, the people who lived in Tampa Bay before European contact (the Tocobaga) had to meet all their needs from locally-available natural materials.

Because Florida is mostly sand and lacks widespread deposits of stone like chert or flint that are useful for toolmaking, the Tocobaga made many of their everyday tools and implements from alternative materials like bone or shell.

Some alternative materials for tools: antler, oyster shells, and bone

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Forgotten mysteries, oddities and unknown stories from history, nature and science.