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I took the opportunity to volunteer with the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) in April of 2014 and had a great time (though it was off to a rough start with a rain out on the first weekend we tried. We finally did manage to do some digging and found a spectacular carnivore mandible toward the end of the dig which was our "trip-maker". For anybody who missed this tale, you can find it here: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/45220-thomas-farm-volunteer-dig-spring-2014/ I missed the Thomas Farm dig in 2015 as I was out of the country playing a coral reef scientist on TV (one of my numerous avocational interests). When the opportunity came around this year I jumped on it. Because of the new Montbrook site that the FLMNH is working this year, they are spending a limited time (5 days) at Thomas Farm this year--so not wanting to miss any of the fun, I signed up for the entire 5 day dig. The new Montbrook site dig will continue through mid-May and I encourage any who have the opportunity to give it a try. I'll probably try to get back there once more before the end of the season. Here is my report from a month ago: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/63056-volunteer-dig-with-the-flmnh/ So anyway, back to Thomas Farm. The section I was digging back in 2014 (which they continued in 2015) was now dug down deep enough that they wanted to balance out the area by going back to a section that they haven't dug for several years. When I was there last it had an aluminum frame car port with a canvas top covering a cache of sandbags and some other stored gear. They moved all of those sandbags up out of the digging area to ground level near the outbuilding on site. The plan is to dig this area down to match the level of the adjacent section which is now quite a bit lower. They like to try to keep things relatively level as it promotes good water run-off during the rainy season (though Florida seems to have nothing but a rainy season this year). For anybody who has been to the Thomas Farm site in the recent past, here is what the site looks like now:
This weekend my wife and I are heading up to volunteer at the Thomas Farm fossil dig in Gilchrist County that is being run by the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. I discovered this opportunity when visiting their website to renew my Florida fossil permit. True, you don't get to keep what you might find but you do get to see fossils in situ in the sandy clay matrix rather than all tumbled and jumbled (and blackened) in a sifting screen while standing waist deep in the Peace River. I checked the website and it seems (from their last update) that there may still be some volunteer slots open for some of the dates. I have no idea how current their website is being maintained but I'm assuming there are still opportunities here for this year. If you are interested an application form and contact email for Richard Hulbert (who is organizing and leading this dig) can be found here: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/Spring_2014.htm As the first of this year's sessions is already underway (started yesterday) I'm assuming Dr. Hulbert will only be having a chance to catch-up on emails in the evenings. If you think it would be fun to work with scientists (and other volunteers) to dig at one of the most fossil rich sites in Florida, there may still be opportunities for this year. Visit the link above and contact Dr. Hulbert to see if you can still be part of this year's efforts. Videos and photos from a previous dig are also available on the FLMNH website via this link: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/thomasfarm/videos/ http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/thomasfarm/images/ I'll post some photos from our trip after I get back next week. Cheers. -Ken