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I’m new at fossil hunting, so please be patient with me. I recently found a fossilized or at the very least mineralized herbivore molar. I was hoping for some help with identifying it, and if possible, learning how old the animal was when it died.
Met-up in Arcadia with a friend of mine who drove down from Jacksonville with his family to do a little river sifting for some "black gold". I humorously refer to the fossils we pull from the Peace River using this term. While standing in the middle of the river scooping sand and gravel into my screen or sorting through the sifted gravel it seems to be normal human nature for folks passing downstream in canoes to ask what we are doing. This action seems to be triggered by the same gene responsible for asking people fishing along the river, "How are they biting?" and possibly also linked to the urge to "Moo" at cows you pass in cars along the road. Oddly, a majority of people out on the Peace River for no other reason but to enjoy the sights (and maybe camp along the shore) the question is not usually phrased along the lines of "Whatcha doing?" but rather the curious, "You looking for gold?" "Black gold" I tell them and explain that we are looking for shark teeth and other things (hard to get into too much detail as they float by on the current). I have to add FOSSIL shark teeth to clear up any confusion when they respond with something like, "Is this brackish water?" as I can see the panic build in their faces with the thought of living sharks patrolling the waters under the canoes they are precariously perched upon (I don't mention the gators so as not to inflict undue stress on an otherwise peaceful outing). My Jacksonville friend came down with his wife and middle school age son who also invited his friend who he has known since pre-school. The boys had an excellent time on the river finding lots of small shark teeth (and a few meg fragments), enough dugong rib bone sections for them to finally lose interest in adding to their burgeoning collection, and a few horse teeth and other oddities thrown in as well. Sunday morning while doing a walk-in for a couple hours before their long journey back north we found a nice coprolite which, as you can imagine, is extra special to a 13 year old boy. I spent most of the weekend digging and sifting with the others, helping them to spot and identify some of the more abstract fossil bits. The learning curve for spotting smaller shark teeth is about halfway through the first sifting screenful of gravel but many other things would likely be left behind by novice screeners without a bit of training. After finding I nice whale ear bone (tympanic bulla) earlier in the day, one of the boys successfully spotted a second one when it turned up in his screen--kids can be such quick studies at that age (as long as it is a topic that they are interested in). Didn't spend a lot of time sifting for on my own but got a chance to add to my collection when the boys were taking a rest and a snack break back by the canoes. I did manage to turn up (in addition to the ear bone) a nice horse tooth, what appears to be a camelid astragalus, a fragment of a huge glyptodont plate, a turtle dermal plate, and what looks like a jawbone section. A few fish pieces as well including: a ray dermal denticle, a few fish scales (gar and otherwise), a couple of what appear to be rostral teeth from sawfish and what I'm guessing may be a tilly bone. The water at the location we were hunting was running clear (despite rains a few days previous). It was reasonably shallow at what I call "frog depth" (knee-deep) . My wife decided to try a little surface hunting when she got tired of shoveling and shaking sifters. She's been a big fan of this approach ever since she turned up a perfect 3.25" meg laying in the sand next to her foot about a year ago. She did it again and found a really nice molar with a different pattern on the chewing surface that I'm assuming is a bison lower molar. Though there were few novel finds I did pull a shamer of a meg tooth frag that came from the largest meg tooth I've ever seen come out of the Peace. Though the temps were a bit chilly in the morning, the overcast sky broke mid-morning and the sun shone through the solid blue sky to make it easier to see while we sifted through the jet black gravel for some "black gold" to take home. At the end of dinner the boys could barely keep their foreheads off the restaurant table so we knew they had a full day that hopefully will be a fond memory for years to come. Here is a shot of a few of the notable finds that made their way into my goody belt over the weekend (not showing the hundred or so smaller shark teeth that go in the (growing) bowl with the others). Cheers. -Ken