Peace River 2019

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Trent, Zack and Jack team up for the best fossil finds.

From time to time, SCUBAnauts find adventure above–well, somewhat above–the water line. This time, we ventured to Arcadia State Park along the Peace River for some fossil hunting in central Florida.

Fossil Hunt Embarks

Before the hunt, our awesome guide, Kevin Marks, talked about the formation of Florida and displayed some of his greatest finds like whale vertebrae and Mastodon teeth.  After our talk, we loaded on to the bus at Canoe River Outpost to launch. We  paddled our way down the river, stopping at sites that Mr. Marks knew would yield some great treasures .We were not disappointed. Using shovels and screens to sift through the river sediment, we sorted for fossils. The current blew a lot of dirt and rock out of our shovels but was manageable, and the water level ranged from waist deep to chest deep. We found different fossils like dugong ribs and bone shards, sting ray barbs and turtle scoots and lots of different sharks teeth .Some of our rarer finds were a mammoth tooth and even more rare, a glyptodon rosette–both from the Quaternary period, A rosette is a scale from an ancient armadillo who grew to about the size of a Volkswagen beetle.

On our second stop on the river, we found tons of dugong rib bones, These particular bones have no bone marrow and so are solid all the way through,That helped the dugong {manatee) stay submerged close to the seagrass to graze. The weight of the bones acted like ballast in a boat. It was on this second hunt that some very lucky SCUBANauts found a mastodon molar, horse teeth, and a 2-inch megalodon tooth! All these fossils came from the Quaternary and Pliocene period; that’s about 5 million years ago. Florida has the most vertebrate fossils on Earth because of the ice age sand and gravel layers.

By the third stop we were all starting to tire out, but the excitement of finding that one massive tooth–or maybe an entire skeleton!–kept us shoveling. At this stop we switched to a smaller screen to catch more of the smaller fossils. We found lots of shark teeth but no more giant megs’ teeth. It wasn’t long before the position of the sun let us know it was time to paddle that last stretch of the river back to the outpost. Back on land we laid out our treasures, and Mr. Marks helped us identify some of the stranger shaped objects. It was clear we had all become Fossil Fun addicts!