© Gerald Herbert/AP PhotoForrest Travirca III, walks along Port Fourchon Beach as he searches for artifacts from Pre-historic American-Indian settlements in Caminada Headland, La., Tuesday, June 28, 2011.
Cleanup after the BP oil spill has turned up dozens of sites where archaeologists are finding human and animal bones, pottery and primitive weapons left behind by pre-historic Indian settlements.
It's a trove of new clues about the Gulf Coast's mound dwellers more than 1,300 years ago, but scientists also fear the remains could be damaged by oil or lost to erosion before they can be fully studied.
So far, teams of archaeologists hired by the oil giant have visited more than 100 sites and sent back a growing list of finds to labs for radiocarbon dating and other tests, though extensive excavations haven't been done. Scholars have also accompanied cleanup crews to make sure they don't unwittingly throw away relics.
Larry Murphy is lead archeologist for a council of government agencies and trustees overseeing the oil cleanup. He says neither the discovery of the sites - nor the money to study them - would have come as quickly without the spill.