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My mom is in town escaping the colder weather in Chicago and visiting the Boca house probably for the last time (we're moving to Gainesville, FL in a few months). :)

 

We'd been talking about taking her out fossil hunting on the Peace River for some time but the last couple of years have been relatively short fossil hunting seasons with the water level on the Peace remaining too high for most of the normal "dry season". This year her visit corresponded well with perfect conditions for an outing on the Peace. The last time we were out was during the week between Christmas and New Year when our friends had their daughter in town. The river was about 2.5 feet higher then and we couldn't get to the deeper site that I wanted to visit which has chunkier gravel with lots of dugong rib bones and a chance of finding some larger fossils. I went walked into that site up to my shoulders and decided that spot was a no-go for that trip. Conditions this visit were much more conducive for hunting in the chunky gravel. Here's the trip report from our last visit:

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/101024-peace-river-trip-before-the-new-year-decade/

 

We rented our canoes from Canoe Outpost as usual and put in at Brownville Park for our normal 8.5 mile run back down to Arcadia. We hoped to meet up with new forum member @Jen Morris but the timing didn't work out. We had a schedule to keep and had to move down from the big well-known gravel bed just downstream from Brownville to hit some other spots and still be able to get the canoes back before 5:00 p.m. (we were in with 5 minutes to spare). ;)

 

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This trip we took our friend's granddaughter, Destiny, with us to fill out a small flotilla of two canoes. Destiny had been wanting to fossil hunt the Peace since moving back to Florida from the Pacific Northwest. After to abbreviated fossil hunting seasons in South Florida this season all the planets aligned and she was able to make the trip with us on her quest to find a meg tooth (a common goal for first time fossil hunters in Florida). We spent nearly 4 hours at the well-known and well-hunted gravel bed just down from the boat ramp at Brownville Park and it took us some time to prospect around and find some productive gravel. A couple months back on our previous visit we did pretty good here with a horse tooth and camelid tooth (but only tiny meg fragments). Though there were not the usual "bomb craters" and huge discard piles that we usually see at this site in the river indicating lots of recent hunting pressure, we had to prospect around quite a bit before we started finding more than just the common tiny shark teeth--even turtle shell and dugong bones were being elusive.

 

Just before our planned lunch break around noon (cold leftover homemade pizza from the night before :drool:) we hit paydirt with Destiny shouting out when a nearly complete meg showed up in her sifting screen. That was matched in kind pretty quickly when my mom joined the Meg Club a few minutes later. We decided that we had worked this site well enough for the day and decided to put a little more distance behind us and paddle for a while to get a bit closer to our destination in Arcadia.

 

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We made it down to the spot with the chunky gravel. This is a spot on a large sandbar. Previous to Hurricane Irma the top of this sandbar was just that--sand! The gravel area was limited to a small strip on the leading edge of this sandbar where the bottom rose up from much deeper water. It was a limited area but has delivered interesting fossils from time to time (like over 2 dozen cetacean tympanic bullae in a few hours). Post Irma we found the site deeper with the top couple of feet of sand peeled off and transported further downstream. While this makes the site more difficult to access during deeper water, it revealed that the gravel seam along the leading edge was just the margin of a much more extensive gravel bed that covers much of the top of this presently lowered sandbar. It is deeper on the upstream side and shallows as you walk downstream on it. Though the temps were very warm--near if not reaching 90F (32C)--the rest of our group didn't feel like venturing into water over waist deep and so I used my fiberglass probe to hunt around for some gravel in the shallower depths. It took me a bit of prospecting till I found the sort of very chunky gravel that this site is famous (to me) for. At this site it is not uncommon to dig up a chunk of matrix rock filling the entire shovel. These bowling ball boulders are shot-putted away from where we are digging a far enough distance that we are not soaked with the ensuing kerplunk of a splash. :blink:

 

We turned up some additional nearly complete meg teeth and enough dugong rib bone pieces to pave a driveway. The finds here are less frequent with the smaller shark teeth being almost absent. The gravel is generally much larger here golf ball to softball size and so there are fewer but larger finds to be had. We scored a nice glyptodont osteoderm to go with the partial Holmesina osteoderm we found at the first stop. Destiny scored a really nice bison tooth and a very cool pharyngeal crushing plate covered with phyllodont enamel teeth from a wrasse or bonefish.

 

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It was getting toward the end of the day and the Earth's gravity had quite obviously undergone a recent local surge as the shovels of gravel and sand were getting noticeably heavier than they'd been at the start of the day. :P We had just about run out of time to be able to paddle our way down the last stretch back to Arcadia and our cars which awaited us with towels and a dry change of clothing. We were finishing up our last few screens and where I was digging the gravel was tapping out to just sand and the annoying sticky gray clay that makes digging and sifting a pain. I looked upstream and noticed that I had without realizing it worked my way about 20 feet from where I had left my probe to mark where I had first found this nice chunky gravel. I decided to return to where I had first found this nice chunky stuff and finish my last couple of screens there.

 

While digging in this larger material you have to get the tip of your shovel down between the larger pieces of rock. This usually requires putting one foot on the edge of the shovel and leaning in some body weight while wiggling the top of the shovel around as the tip navigates down between the rocks so that you can scoop up a full load into the sifting screen. Quite often the bowling ball size chunks that pave the bottom here will fall off the shovel or become uncovered by digging around them and they will need to be pulled up and tossed away so digging can proceed. I could feel one loose piece that was located directly between my feet. I could detect a bit of the shape with one foot on either side and it seemed familiar (yes, I have feet that are trained to detect fossils :P). The water was just shallow enough that I could bend down and grab hold of it with one hand. I told Tammy to pull out the camera. She gave me that look like "Really?" and I nodded my head. In hindsight, it would have been more funny as a video clip but we ended the day with a special find so my mom would remember this Pie Day (3/14) on the Peace River--a nearly 7 pound (3 kg) Colombian Mammoth tooth! :o

 

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Here are a couple of post-trip photos of some of the other interesting finds. A really sweet Glyptotherium and partial Holmesina osteoderm, a nice piece of softshell turtle carapace, and what appears to be part of the jaw of the Long-beaked Dolphin.

 

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Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Nice finds, great weather, and a great time with family and friends - score on all counts.   :)

 

I am jealous of the mammoth tooth. An intact example is still on my bucket list. Josh found one about 20 feet away from me and I have found lots of broken partials, but never a complete or nearly-complete one. Well done. I bet both of you did the fossil dance.  :megdance:

Was that mammoth tooth near the ramp as well? If so, you were blessed and meant to have that one. Whenever I feel something suspect with my feet, it usually turns out to be a rock or tree branch.

 Between that and the megs, those are trip-makers.

 

I am trying to get out there again this week - these water levels are very enticing.

 

 

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Wow, what a great day!  I have that full mammoth tooth on my bucket list too!  

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Tidgy's Dad

Great report and what a lot of lovely finds. :)

Looks like everyone had a good day and found something they were happy with.

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1 hour ago, Bone Daddy said:

Whenever I feel something suspect with my feet, it usually turns out to be a rock or tree branch.

I think @jcbshark said it best with "Every once in a great while it's not just a big rock down there!" :D

 

We had a great time on the river and the mammoth was a trip-maker that showed up in the last bit of the trip.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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deutscheben

Hahaha that sequence of photos with the mammoth tooth is absolutely delightful! Great finds all around, though, thank you for the report. 

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Just now, deutscheben said:

Hahaha that sequence of photos with the mammoth tooth is absolutely delightful!

Yes. I enjoyed how that turned out as well. The expressions are not ad-libbed but genuine. A video sequence might have been funnier with the audio accompaniment but you get the feel of the moment from those photos. :D

 

It was a very nice day on the Peace.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Congrats to Destiny and your mom for joining "The Meg Club"!  And the mammal material is also awesome - what a nice bison tooth and a gorgeous mammoth tooth!!!  I'm happy to hear you all had a nice day out fossil-hunting!

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Those are some awesome finds Ken, you can ask for much more than that :yay-smiley-1:

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And thankfully no air boats or jet skis on the river as we had novices with paddles. This was Destiny's first time in a Canoe and my mom hasn't been in one since she got her merit badge in canoeing back in Girl Scouts. For that badge the scouts had to purposely tip their canoes in deep water, get out, rock their canoes to empty them of water and hoist themselves back in. Thankfully, none of that had to be practiced last weekend. With the lack of recent significant rains the river is very clear (and low) at the moment. You have to zig-zag a bit to try to stay in the deeper tea colored areas as the shallow sandy areas a numerous. Logs and tree stumps in the dark areas can cause quite the surprise when the reach up and grab hold of the canoe. Luckily, I was usually the first canoe down the river and I was able to get us unhooked without flipping and could signal back to let the other canoe avoid the danger. :)

 

It was nice to get out and enjoy a day on the Peace. Hardly even stiff and sore after a long day of shoveling and lifting heavy sifters up from shallow water. Here's a free tip (take it for what it costs) that might help some newer fossil hunters on the Peace extend their hunting time by reducing fatigue. I see lots of hunters bent over trying to scan their sifting screens as they float (half submerged) on the water's surface or holding their screens against their waists with an outstretched arm holding the back edge--both make me tired and sore just looking at them. Once I've filled my sifter, I always plant my shovel firmly in the hole I'm digging in the river bed. After I've shaken the sand out of my sifting screen I hoist it up and rest the rear edge of the screen on the tip of the shovel handle. It doesn't take much skill to balance it there so it can hold most of the weight while the front edge can be comfortably supported with one hand. Working smart extends my digging time significantly.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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15 hours ago, digit said:

we ended the day with a special find so my mom would remember this Pie Day (3/14) on the Peace River--a nearly 7 pound (3 kg) Colombian Mammoth tooth!

 

What an awesome memory to share with your Mom!

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Very nice trip, and good to see that "family paleontology" doesn't limit to the usual "dad and 7 year old" combo

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Great variety! I’m still waiting to find a big complete mammoth tooth!

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In 13 years of occasional hunting on the Peace (a few outings each season) I've been extremely lucky to have been able to pull out one complete trophy tooth back in 2015 on a memorable trip with John @Sacha to a spot that is now apparently buried under several feet of sand in recent years.

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/54684-more-may-mammoth-mania/

 

Usually, I find only tiny flakes of enamel that are only decipherable when you've seen a complete tooth. Every once and a while I turn up a chunk that has a few plates still connected. I save these for giveaways (usually to kids) to stoke their interest. The site we visited last weekend has given up half a dozen or so large partials (4 in one day--none of which fit together :wacko:).

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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