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Found 26 results

  1. Florida's Peace River

    The Peace River of Florida (“Talakchopcohatchee” - River of Long Peas in the Creek and Seminole Indian language. Named for the wild pea-like plants that grow along the river.) The Peace River is a “blackwater” river. This means the water is a dark, coffee color that results from a high content of tannins. The riverbed cuts through peaty, organic-rich material which leeches into the water and turns it black. When this water runs shallow over rocks or pale-colored sand, it can be transparent like weak tea. This is especially true if the sun is directly overhead and illuminating the water. In places where the water is deeper, it becomes black and opaque. This darkening is enhanced wherever the river is shaded from sun. Depending on the time day, placement of the sun, degree of sky cloudiness, the depth of the river, and the composition of the riverbed, the water may have good or terrible visibility. This can vary over short stretches. You might be canoeing over sandy bottom that is only inches away from the tip of your paddle, then you go around a bend and the bottom drops away into the darkness and tall trees on the banks block out the sun. The bottom might still be inches away, or you might be paddling over a hole that is ten feet deep. The only way to find out how deep the dark stretches are is to probe the depths with your paddle and see if you can touch the bottom of the riverbed. The dark water also conceals snags and rocks. Fallen trees and rocky outcroppings are hidden in the murky waters. When the water is higher, one can paddle right over these obstructions without knowing they are there. During fossil-hunting season, the river is very low and this exposes most of the hazards, but creates new ones. Shallow runs through exposed rocks create rapids and eddies, which must be navigated carefully. Other times, the water is too shallow for paddling and one must climb out of the boat and drag it over rocks that are often slick and jagged. It is worth noting that some Florida limestone and chert nodules break with razor-sharp edges, so water shoes are a must when navigating rivers like the Peace. When the river height is low and the current is slow, it can be a leisurely paddle against the current going upstream. However, there are numerous places where the river narrows or flows over shallow outcrops, and in these places the current will increase dramatically and with little notice. In wider stretches, the current is usually more gentle, but the wind can often work against you, so one must be prepared to get some good exercise when paddling, regardless of which way the current is going. Even the trip downstream with the current requires a measure of awareness to avoid snags and navigate rapids. On some stretches you can leisurely drift and relax, and then on other stretches you need to pay attention and make correct decisions to avoid getting snagged or submerged. During fossil season (which is generally winter to early spring), the water is cold. It’s not freezing cold, but hypothermia is a real worry. I try to stay dry from my waist up. Having long legs helps in this regard. As long as my core remains dry, I can avoid hypothermia while doing prolonged wading in the cold water. My partner who dives down into the holes wears a rubber wet suit for insulation. This cold water is a boon for fossil hunters because it makes the native reptiles less active. When air and water temps drop, alligators and snakes go into a state of torpor. They are far less aggressive and less interested in humans. One must always be aware of their presence, but the danger of an unprovoked attack is extremely low during the winter. The Peace river runs approx. 105 miles as the crow flies from Bartow in the north at the source, down to Port Charlotte in south. Taking into account the twists and bends in the river, it is a 150 mile paddle from end to end. The river north of the town Zolfo Springs is considered the “Upper Peace” and below Zolfo to the south is the “Lower Peace”. Fossils can be found along the entire length of the Peace, but the most accessible deposits generally are found on the Lower Peace which cuts through the Bone Valley formation of the Hawthorn geologic group. To understand the type and composition of the fossil deposits in the area, one must consider the underlying geology. Along the Upper and Middle Peace, the riverbed is exposed limestone with accumulations of sand, clay, and gravel. Down the Lower Peace, the bottom becomes sandier with thicker sediments of clay and sand. At all points, there are limestone boulders and outcroppings that cut through the banks and riverbed. The banks on all stretches can vary between tall sandy bluffs to low rocky beaches. The banks in areas of interest to fossil hunters occur along undeveloped stretches of the river where the layers of the banks are eroding into the river. These layers alternate between Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene time periods when Florida alternated from being completely underwater (Eocene, Miocene, early Pliocene) to being above water in the late Pliocene to Holocene. Because these layers are laid down in succession, it is possible to find marine Miocene animals like Megalodon shark side by side with Pleistocene megafauna like Mammoths. By carefully examining the banks and riverbed, one can determine which spots might be worth hunting for fossils. In some cases, the fossils can be seen eroding from the banks. It’s not unusual to find a bone or tusk sticking out of the bank or laying on the bank at water level. In other cases, the fossils have accumulated in holes at the bottom of the dark river below the banks. Bends in the river, tree snags, and rapids also tend to trap and accumulate fossils. The presence of large gravel can also be a sign of fossil deposits nearby or transported by flood action. Heavy mineralized fossils tend to accumulate with gravel, phosphate pebbles, and limestone rocks to build gravel beds on the river bottom. These gravel beds can be productive if one doesn’t mind shoveling and sifting – which can be tricky underwater with a current flowing over your shovel. Another fossil clue to look for is shelly layers exposed in the sandy riverbanks. There are Miocene-Pliocene layers that are fossil-rich with marine fossils from the period when Florida was completely under water. The Bone Valley formation that the Peace cuts through has some of these deposits near the surface where they are exposed by the course of the river. You can see these layers if you look closely – they are a stark white line that runs between tan sandy layers and grey clayey layers. The presence of this white shelly layer guarantees the presence of Miocene marine invertebrates, and often contains Miocene vertebrates like Megalodon. These shelly layers are the source of most Megalodon teeth found in the Peace. They erode out of the banks, fall into the river, and are transported downstream where they collect in gravel beds, holes, and rapids. Teeth that are freshly exposed from the banks tend to have lighter and prettier colors. The teeth that have been submerged in the tannin-rich waters are stained dark black over time. Generally speaking, the Lower Peace is more developed and populated than the Upper Peace. Although there are occasional homes and farms along the river, there are also long stretches that are completely undeveloped and surrounded by pristine wetland wilderness. It is these undeveloped stretches that are the most productive for fossil hunting – both because the land is less disturbed, and there is less human traffic in the area (hunters, fishermen, boaters, other fossil hunters, etc). The stretches we hunt for fossils are largely uninhabited, except for occasional fishermen or kayakers passing through. These stretches are usually too shallow for any boat larger than a canoe or kayak, so you never see large motorboats or airboats in these areas. If you go further south to Gardner on the Lower Peace, airboats and loud bassboats are increasingly present and annoying. Although these annoyances do little to deter meaningful fossil-hunting, it ruins the atmosphere and serenity for folks like myself who enjoy the silence and immersion in nature. One can generally avoid these situations by staying far away from the nearest public boat ramps. While there are public access boat ramps dotted along the length of the Peace, there are also remote stretches that are miles away from the nearest ramps – these areas have a lot less traffic, people, litter, noise, and other signs of humans. In the quiet and pristine areas, it is very easy to forget that one lives in modern times and one gets a feel for what it must have been like centuries ago before man intruded on the Peace. There are numerous small creeks that feed into the Peace and some of these creeks are good for fossil hunting. However, many of these creeks extend inland into private property where hunting is not allowed without permission from the land owner. So, one must consider and navigate these creeks with a measure of caution and awareness that is not entirely necessary if one sticks to the main river. While we have hunted some of these creeks, we have not had good luck with them and have made very few significant finds in these creeks. Creeks of interest include Charlie Creek, Payne’s Creek, Bowlegs Creek, Whidden Creek, Joshua Creek, Shell Creek, and dozens of smaller, unnamed tributaries. Flora and fauna along the Peace are plentiful. Common sights include alligators, turtles, wading birds (cranes, egrets, etc), raptors (hawks, eagles, etc), snakes, deer, wild pigs, otters, and the occasional coyote. All of these animals live in the wilderness that surrounds the river and the shy species make their presence known with tracks and calls. Alligators are a constant in all sizes from babies up to 12-foot maneaters. In colder weather, they are very lethargic and do not pose a threat. They lie on the banks soaking up the sun and have little interest in the humans passing by. Snakes are also a constant presence, with the predominate venomous species being cottonmouth (water moccasins), rattlesnakes, and the coral snake. Again, in the cold months, these snakes present little threat, but one must be aware of them when flipping over rocks and reaching into holes. The predominate vegetation in most areas are the bald cypress tree, various pines, assorted palms, scrub oaks, and palmetto bushes. Vines and wildflowers are also present and provide a pleasant injection of color into the landscape when they are blooming. One favorite of mine was a big mound of Moonflowers that would greet us in the morning as we paddled away from the boat ramp. For practical matters, it is important to note that cellular service is spotty in the more remote areas. Cell phone service is 3G at best with only one bar of reception if you are lucky. Service is more reliable closer to towns and near the parks with boat ramps, but once you go a few miles down the river into the boonies, your cell service diminishes rapidly. If you have an emergency while out on the river, don’t rely completely on your cellphone. In most cases, first responders or rangers would have a difficult time locating and reaching you. There are no roads to these areas, no place to land a helicopter, and the river is too shallow for Marine Patrol or Game Warden boats. You are literally “on your own” when exploring many of the areas on the Peace. (End of Part One)
  2. Went fossil hunting again in Florida's Bone Valley Formation. We returned to the Mammoth site where the large tusk section was recovered on the previous trip. After extensive searching in the area, no further Mammoth specimens were found. We still believe more of the beast is buried nearby, but this site is large and it's like looking for needles in a haystack. So, we are done with this site for a few months until the river drops further to allow better searching. We left the Mammoth site and continued downstream until we arrived at another one of our "honey holes" - a spot in the river that has previously produced numerous Pleistocene megafauna fossils. The site did not disappoint. We were likely the first hunters to arrive at it (it's too far downstream for casual lookers) and there was a lot of low-hanging fruit laying around. Josh proceeded to do some diving in the murky waters, and I waded around the knee-deep tea-colored water - doing a lot of the same bending and stooping that I do while shelling at the beach. The sun was directly overhead at this time, so it illuminated the coffee-black water and made it appear a tan tea color that was much more transparent. Things on the river bed could be easily seen. Lots of pebbles, logs, branches, clay lumps that resemble rocks, and fossils. All of these things are laying in a chaotic mess all over the riverbed in certain places. This lighting would not last, once the angle of the sun changes, the level of illumination drops and the tea colored water slowly changes to opaque coffee black. While the Sun was good, I found numerous bones including some vertebra and phalanges - the former is likely alligator and the latter is probably deer. Some of those appeared to be recent Holocene specimens and some were fossilized and were late Pliocene to late Pleistocene. Also found were numerous turtle scutes, some soft-shell turtle plastrons, some unidentified "chunkasaurus" bone fragments, a piece of Miocene coral with calcite replacement, and a strangely shaped bone of some kind. I left the best for last. Although not a fossil, I found an intact coyote skull that is in wonderful condition and has almost all of the teeth, including the canines. Also found was a partial small skull that is likely a raccoon or possum. These will clean up nicely and go into my growing collection of skulls. Footnote : strangely, we found NO shark teeth, which is very unusual for this site. Although, to be fair, we weren't really focused on shark teeth this time.
  3. Turtle or glyph scute frag?

    Cant really tell ? I'm used to turtle I always find turtle fragments but this looks diffrent .
  4. Possible enamel ?

    Possible enamel ?
  5. Sea biscuit!

    Small but in amazing shape !
  6. These are finds from the Bone Valley Formation in south Florida. Dry land site a couple of hours south of Tampa. The site is predominately Miocene/Pliocene marine fossils, with some Pleistocene land fauna mixed in. This first find appears to be a operculum of some kind (not sure which species). What interested me, is the little black crystals(?) growing in the attached remnants of matrix rock. I have seen these little black pieces in shelly-matrix from different sites in Bone Valley, and I am curious as to what mineral they might be. Or, are they organic? Could they be phosphate or something else?
  7. Hey guys. I am offering up a 4.13” Bone Valley meg from my collection for trade. Absolutely massive tooth for the location and in incredible condition. Only flaws are two feeding marks, but the tip is intact which is hard to get in BV, especially on a tooth this size. Incredible color, amazing bourlette, sharp serrations... just a killer example that doesn’t come available often. No repair or restoration of any kind. I’m looking to add more Peruvian teeth to my collection, specifically a meg. Also always interested in 6”+ megs or high quality megs from any location. Let me know what you have! TJ
  8. Hunting with Steve

    Summer is usually a drag for SW Florida fossil hunting. I was flushed out of the Peace River on May 28th and have not been back. So I was commiserating (generally whining) with my pretty constant (in season) hunting buddy Steve a week ago. What can we do,, what can we do? Steve was a drag line operator for most of 25 years in Bone Valley Phosphate mines and has lived within walking distance of the Peace River most of his adult life. So, he and I both made suggestions on a Florida Fossil Focused agenda for what turned out to be yesterday!! 1) Arrive at Steve's home and unidentified fossil museum to check out some of his treasures and maybe purchase a few of my favorite tiny horse teeth from the Miocene era phosphate mines. Here are just a few of my new tiny horse teeth.... 2) Take a road trip in the Vicinity of Fort Meade, checking out feeder creeks to the Peace River, to determine whether these smaller creeks present an opportunity for fossil hunting. I am not trying to dissuade anyone but it is worth your life to go into many of the creeks I saw. As an example, little Paynes Creek is normally 1-2 feet meandering thru the woods. We went over a bridge where it was a torrent 30 feet wide and 8 foot deep. Best to wait until that subsides. 3) We were on a historical trip back in time visiting the Phosphate mines from 30 years ago and 100 years ago, passing old rusting mine buildings, cemeteries where mine towns used to be and are not any more, roads that went nowhere, huge tracks of land with no trespassing signs from MOSIAC Company. Steve talked about places he work for decades that had perfect Red Megs that no one bothered to pick up because the money was in mammal fossils. He said that in the 1970s, anyone could walk into the mines searching for fossils. The owners did not care as long as you stayed away from buildings and equipment during working hours. Kids would go searching for fossils on Sundays. 4) We were in the area , so we stopped at the Phosphate Mine Museum in Mulberry Florida. Really interesting place, I liked the baby Gomph tooth, Rhino tusk, Croc, and dugong ribs... In that 1st photo above, that is a Drag line bucket from decades ago. The museum fills the area with pebble rock that contains small fossils and tiny shark teeth from the mines. There was a family with 2 kids digging for fossils. I was fortunate to have some waste fossils in my pickup that I gave them and they thanked me profusely. I am not selective when I hunt, I pick up almost everything that is not rock, sort it out at home and on my next trip back, dump it back in the river, so broken unidentified bones, dugong ribs, ray teeth, turtle pieces, etc, etc. Sometimes fragments of gator . mammoth, mastodon, horse teeth. 5) From the museum, we went across the street for the big mac meal with fries and a drink. And then back to searching for those feeder creeks and defunct phosphate mines. All in All , it was a better fossil day than I had in over a month. We talked about visiting more local museums (Bradenton, Clewiston, Ft Myers), Steve loaned me a book on Florida Artifacts and so I have a lot of fossils activities to do for a few weeks until I need another day, hunting with Steve.
  9. IMG_0939aTxt.jpg

    From the album FloridaWhales

    Order: Artiodactyl Infraorder: Cetecea Family: Kogiidae Genus: Kogiopsis Species K. Floridana Whale tooth, Length 9.2 cm, 3.6 Inches Crystalized core
  10. Whale5MergeTxt.jpg

    From the album FloridaWhales

    Bone Valley Phosphate Mine Fort Meade, Florida Kogiopsis .sp 3.6 Inch Whale tooth
  11. Hunting the grapevine

    I really like going out hunting... the thrill of the instant of finding something unique is pure joy and I like to relive that joy over and over, so I take lots of photos. I also have a lot of hunting techniques and many do not require a shovel and sieve. For example , I go to fossil shows and local fossil club auctions, and sometimes I trade and even purchase occasional fossils. So here is a hunting technique.. I live in a fossil rich area of the world.. There is all sorts of stuff here in central and southwest florida, including the gulf of mexico, bone valley , the Peace River, etc. I just put out the word to fossil friends, fossil dealers, hunting buddies, that I am very interested in some specific types of fossils (whale, sloth, small horses included) and if they happen to come across any of that in their wanderings, give me an opportunity to acquire them. That is IT... Over time , it is amazing the number of "damaged fossils" I am gifted!!! and some of those damaged fossils are pretty good. The above is just background to what occurred yesterday. I went "normal hunting" to the Peace River on Sunday and found a bunch of small shark teeth, a few excellent hemis and tigers, a nice Bison lower tooth, an unerupted horse tooth, a 3 plate chunk of mammoth tooth, assorted turtle spurs and footpads. A good day but not fantastic. However, my other method of hunting really paid off... My normal hunting partner got wind of a relative of a friend who had the leftovers of his father's collection of mostly bone valley fossils from 20 years ago... and some were broken whale teeth... Was I interested ???? Do bears live in the woods??? The bucket had 30 fossils 2 half dollar sized shark verts, 1 dolphin tooth, 1 small croc scute, and 27 partial to almost complete whale teeth. Most were dusty and needed some cleaning, but I was only offering about $7 per fossil and I had already seen at least 5 that were very attractive... Here are 2 of those: This 1st is a sperm whale tooth (note the tip and shape), a relative rarity in South Florida, and will fit very well in a display of the only sperm whale tooth I have ever found in the Peace river. The 2nd one is Kogiopsis .sp. I have found these before, and while not as good as my best, it is pretty close.... Length of each tooth is approx 4.25 inches. This last tooth has the tip shaved on 2 of 3 sides from grinding against the tooth/teeth in the opposite jaw... Definitely belongs in my collection... A great day for alternate hunting techniques.
  12. Mastodon tooth? - from bone valley

    Is this is mastodon tooth? I think this is mastodon tooth because this is from bonevalley but i can't sure about it. I learned lots of thing here, and be awake about my unknownness. Thanks for your help.
  13. Big and little

    It was a gorgeous day for 5 hours, then the cold front arrived about 1:30pm in Arcadia. I found Makos, tigers, ray bucklers, a llama ankle bone, a couple of antique bullets, and my hunting partner found and asked me to identify BIG (12.5 inches): I guess you can see LITTLE on the previous photo: Thanks for any and all comments and identifications. Jack
  14. Christmas Presents

    The holidays are here. I am running out of days. I have gone hunting 3 times between Sunday and today, in really cold temps for Florida. Today I am on a flight to Connecticut, then Atlanta, and South Carolina returning on the 26th. It will be great to see family and friends in cooler climates. Yesterday, I was at a new location for me, hunting with 2 fossil addicted friends. It was cool but not frigid and a lot of fun sharing stories and talking Florida fossils. One hunting buddy is a Florida Bone Valley Fossil/Meg/Artifact dealer. I met him 5-6 years ago when he invited me over to see his collection. There was a large Rhino tooth that I really loved, but felt was way beyond my budget. But every time I would visit his collection, I would envy that tooth. This year I decided to purchase that tooth... Step up to the plate for my Christmas present. It was plucked out of the Bone Valley phosphate mines in the mid 1980s and I know right where this beauty is going into my growing Florida Rhino collection. Those of you who are overly observant my have noted a Meg pointed to by my index finger. My friend may have thought he was overpricing the Rhino tooth, so he added a BV Meg as a Christmas present. I had a GREAT day yesterday. This one is a little dinged up but easy to get excited over. He purchases a lot of his inventory but he FOUND this one on private property. Think about that.. looking down and seeing this beauty. Happy Holiday to all my TFF friends. May you get the presents you desire!
  15. Florida Rhino fossil

    This morning I happily acquired a Rhino tooth encased in jaw to add to my collection. It is my 3rd Florida Rhino fossil and I have my eye on a 4th. Now I start asking questions. This seems to be a lower tooth, the first or last tooth on the left side. I am also unsure of which exact Rhino species had this tooth. The jaw segment is 4.5 inches and the occlusal length is 2.25 inches. This tooth seems different from the teeth in this FLMNH mandible of Teleoceras proterum . All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  16. Cormohipparion_emslieiSbyS.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Cormohipparion emsliei upper right M1 or M2 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and the size of this tooth identifies as C_emsliei.
  17. N_aztecus_P3#4.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Nannippus aztecus upper left P3 or P4 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and primarily the size of this tooth identifies as N_aztecus.
  18. N_aztecus_P2#3a.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Nannippus aztecus upper left P2 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and primarily the size of this tooth identifies as N_aztecus.
  19. N_aztecus_M12#5d.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Nannippus aztecus upper left M1 or M2 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and primarily the size of this tooth identifies as N_aztecus. Comparison to a University of Florida fossil of same tooth in 1968 paper by Mooser.
  20. N_aztecus_M2#2a.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Nannippus aztecus upper left M1 or M2 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and primarily the size of this tooth identifies as N_aztecus.
  21. N_aztecus_lowerleft_m3.jpg

    From the album Horse

    A Nannippus aztecus lower left m3 found in Hardee County Florida Phosphate mine. The location found, the time era of 11-5 Mya, and primarily the size of this tooth identifies as N_aztecus.
  22. This is my favorite meg in my collection. It is 5cm long, and many colors are mixed!
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