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Made another trip to the Peace River today. Got on the water by 8 am and headed for a spot where I have previously found mammoth and mastodon teeth.  Started digging and by 9 am I had a partial mastodon tooth!  Came up with a nice complete deer proximal phalanx, a handful of tiger shark teeth and some mammoth and mastodon tooth chips.  My pouch was getting full so I went back to the kayak to safely put the mastodon tooth and other finds in bags and stow them away.  As soon as I got back to where I was digging I heard the shovel "clink" on something.  Reached down and pulled up a nice  vert about 4" across.  My probe then bumped something and I came up with what I believe is a mammoth or mastodon patella!  Kept digging and started pulling up large bones ranging from 8 " to 12" long and up to just over 4" wide.  Ended up with four of them.  I was wearing some new gloves recommended by @Shellseeker and was very glad I had them on.  When getting up these large pieces I was doing a lot of hand digging trying not to damage the bones while pulling them up.  I found an additional large bone that was quite rounded and took a good deal of hand work to free from the sandy bottom.  When I finally pulled it up my first thought was - looks like a baboon's behind (lol).  I have been through my fossil guide and done some searching on line but haven't found anything that compares to it yet.  I had decided ahead of time to head home by 2pm and about 11:30 I began moving all the finds back to the kayak as I knew it would take several trips.  When this was done I headed back to the dig spot and the first sifter gave up a nice 1 1/4" meg.  This was followed by what I believe is a mammoth germ tooth.  More searching on line will be needed verify it.  

 

A few more shovels of gravel went into the sifter when I turned around to see an alligator (4" to 5") swiftly heading right toward me! I dropped the shovel and splashed out of the river so suddenly the gator stopped and turned sideways as it kept watching me. It floated there looking at me as I caught my breath and started wondering if I was going to get back in the water to retrieve my shovel and metal probe. We had a bit of a standoff for about 5 minutes.  I took the time to load my pouches with the remaining finds I had placed on the bank.  Seeing that the gator was just holding in place I mad a quick grab for my equipment and then decided to climb the bank and return to my kayak on land.  I had never encountered an alligator in this spot before.  Being it is gator mating season they do get more aggressive and territorial.  Which means I won't be back to this site for the rest of the season.  Thanks to the aggressive gator I called it a day at 12:30.  Some photos of the best and largest finds -

 

IMG_2487.thumb.jpg.543ea75944383539834b18c70eef4ec2.jpg

 

The stuff in the pail are small pieces that I believe came off the large long bones.  Looks like I have another puzzle - like the tusk pieces found previously.

Two close ups - 

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20200423_165734_resized.jpg.4e56405a4dfd8d110c3cd7dd73238093.jpg

 

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Wow, that must of been scary! Glad you got away unscathed!

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You got some nice looking pieces--and large ones at that. I often find the larger pieces in chunkier gravel. I tell folks that fossils don't know they are fossils--they just think they are rocks. :P Often the river will sort out larger fossils with bigger chunks of gravel and spots with fine (pea size) gravel tend to only give up tiny shark teeth. Was your spot larger than average size gravel?

 

I've been in the river with gators at the same time. One was a smaller 4-5 footer which kept its distance (about 30 feet) and just eyed me curiously from near the bank. Even chunking larger chunks of matrix in its general direction did little to disturb it. Last season I was out on one side of the river and a rather large (~10 foot from the size of the head) gator was across the river near the bank. Every so often it would submerge for an extended period of time which tended to make me much more alert of my surroundings. It would pop back up again in the very same spot and never moved for the hour or so I was sharing that section of the river with it.

 

We are at the start of courting and mating will be happening in earnest in May and June. Quite often we are forced out of the river by that time so we are usually not sharing the river with any frisky or territorial gators. The water is much warmer now than in January/February so gators will be more active. I suspect the younger gator you encountered was likely not mating age yet but I'd not be surprised if hormones are making them stand their ground a bit more this time of the season. Always best to let a gator have first dibs on a section of the river--it is easier to hunt fossils with all of your extremities. ;)

 

Looking forward to seeing more photos of that interesting tooth.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Thanks Darktooth and Digit.  Another spot that I have been visiting over the last month has had a resident 4' gator that would climb up on the bank opposite and watch me for a few hours each afternoon.  The guy today scared me out of the river because it was coming up behind me at a steady pace.  It looked like it had no intention of stopping until he had sampled a little two legged snack!

 

I can post some more pictures of the partial mastodon tooth tomorrow, if that's the one your referring to.  It has the one root intact and from the other side it can be seen where the other root broke off.

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It was only 4-5 feet, you could take him! ;)

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2 hours ago, PODIGGER said:

A few more shovels of gravel went into the sifter when I turned around to see an alligator (4" to 5") swiftly...

 

A proper use of double or single quotation mark is important in determining what standard measurement unit you are using, unless you really meant you got scared of a very tiny alligator no bigger than my palm. :D

 

By the way, nice find!

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Could be worse--he could have said centimeters. :P

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Shellseeker
2 hours ago, PODIGGER said:

 This was followed by what I believe is a mammoth germ tooth.

Mammoth ???

Great to have one root... but looks like Mastodon

image.png.02a1ed632aa2eab0728b6fcca1060f1f.png

 

2 hours ago, PODIGGER said:

A few more shovels of gravel went into the sifter when I turned around to see an alligator (4" to 5") swiftly heading right toward me! I dropped the shovel and splashed out of the river so suddenly the gator stopped and turned sideways as it kept watching me.

Me also, when a 7 footer came at me. A 7 footer may weigh 180 lbs, more than sufficient to grab on and roll. In deep water , not much of a fight.

There has been 1 recorded gator attack death in the Peace River back in 1977. I hate to speculate how many gators have been killed in that span. That five footer will not last long. This 7 footer was killed 3 months after this photo.

RSCN1167.jpg.2af4ae1291a94d93ea4419163cb096ce.jpg

 

When hunting, I really enjoy the wildlife.  I hate to see them killed, even large gators.

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Mike from North Queensland

Not good to hear you got chased out of the water by a lizard but here in Australia I would not even think of sharing the water with one of our salties seeing as they are protected. 

They are not gun shy of people and would consider a regular fossicking spot as a good hunting site.

As far as size goes some aboriginal people used to measure them between the eyes as that was all that was usually visible not the 5 to 6 metres hidden under the water. 

So 4" to 5" would be a reasonable size.

 

Mike

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The baboon butt is a bit of femur ain’t it?

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The only worries I have in my neck of the woods are the wild boars when the piglets are young, but that's nothing compared to what you guys have to deal with here. Respect! Good finds too.

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Nice finds and glad your ok. You reminded me I need to watch “lake placid” again.  :)

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Thanks to all for your comments.  It was 4 to 5 FEET - not inches lol! Guess I was a bit tired when I posted that.

 

 @Shellseeker - yes that is the partial mastodon tooth.  I didn't include a picture of the one I thought may be a germ tooth.  I am still looking for examples to make a comparison on the germ tooth.  As far as the gators go, I figure they live there so they have the right of way.

 

@Ash - Thanks for the femur suggestion.  I'll look closer at that.  I will try to get a set of photos of that bone into the ID section soon.

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Uncle Siphuncle

Every detail of this story is enough to fire the fast twitch muscle fibers!

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Yup, that would get me out of the water as well. Not a big bull, but big enough to do so damage. Like Ken said, that gator probably won't last long. The curious or aggressive ones tend to get shot and culled. I also hate to see that happen, even when it's a big bull. I think they are beautiful, like a modern-day aquatic dinosaur. Or course, I give them a wide berth, but I enjoy seeing them from a respectful distance.

 

If you want to see gatory, Trout Creek park on the Hillsborough River is the most gator-infested stretch of river I have seen outside of the Myakka. Too many to count at one time. Dozens of visible ones of all sizes, including multiple 10-12 foot beasts. It's a dredged section of the river right before the dam, so it's deep and slow-moving. They congregate there in large numbers in disturbingly-close proximity to Nature's Classroom where schoolkids gather on field trips. Doesn't seem safe to me.

 

Nice finds BTW. That big knobby bone is definitely the "ball tip" of a mastodon or mammoth, or some other megafauna. There aren't too many possible suspects for a bone of that size. Can't wait to see more pics of those teeth and when you get that stuff ID'ed.

 

I'm getting antsy. I've started lobbying my wife to go sometime in the first week of May, if circumstances feel good enough for me to go. I think we are past the worst fear of our Florida hospitals getting overwhelmed on this wave of infections, so I feel better about making a trip. But, when that second wave hits, that might change. So there might be a window for me in between those. I am concerned that the winter portion of our hunting season might get cut short by a renewed wave of infections and lockdowns. Hopefully not.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

The only worries I have in my neck of the woods are the wild boars when the piglets are young, but that's nothing compared to what you guys have to deal with here. Respect! Good finds too.

The only "real" dangers in my digs are the two legged ones.

Methhead/ tweakers and off road motorcyclists who feel our tailing piles are their own private playland.  Not a day goes by that at least a half dozen motor bikes aren't zipping over and around the dig holes.

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Shellseeker
11 hours ago, Mike from North Queensland said:

As far as size goes some aboriginal people used to measure them between the eyes as that was all that was usually visible not the 5 to 6 metres hidden under the water. 

Mike,

I have heard that your Salties come on the large size and they really like people. I think I would have to find another hobby!!!!

image.png.12d2da0cfd10cffc9ca3ea6358db8fed.png

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Harry Pristis
Many old time collectors, like me, never worried overly much about the 'gators.  We carried a 'gator stick' -- a baton about 18" long tethered to a wrist with a thin cord lanyard.  I personally used an old police baton made of hardwood.
 
 The idea was when a 'gator bit your upper arm or shoulder (they like to go for your head), you just stick the baton down the 'gator's throat to make it let go.  The baton breaks the watertight seal of the glottis, and the 'gator has to interrupt his business in order to cough up the leaked riverwater.  Works every time!
 
 If the 'gator has hold of your baton arm, you have to be able to break the lanyard to employ the baton with your other hand.  I have always favored keeping my baton arm on the away-side of any aggressive 'gator I can see.  I have always come out on top in every 'gator encounter.
 
If the 'gator has hold of your head and begins a death-roll, keep your arms and legs tight to your body to go with the roll.  Then, working by feel, you can get the baton into the 'gator's throat.  This head-hold is a best case scenario for the 'gator, but a worst case scenario for the collector who may wind up with tooth punctures on the head.  That's why I always wore a miner's hard hat when I used mask and snorkel to survey the bottom.  No scars on my visage!
 
Now, if you think I made up this story, look around you at the next fossil show in Florida.  Do you see any old time collectors who are missing limbs or who have puncture scars on their heads?  No, you won't!  You know that I wouldn't kid you about this.
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I believe every single word. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Well Harry, I just happen to have a couple of old police batons laying around.  Now if I can just find a thin cord lanyard I can go right back to my favorite hunting spot!

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Here are some additional picture of the mastodon tooth -

 

20200424_165359_resized.thumb.jpg.5dd7d6528665bac0e23921b61cc08634.jpg

 

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20200424_165745_resized.thumb.jpg.99a70ebf6a164a1901bf7973ece8edce.jpg

 

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Very cool! More complete than any masto-bits that I've found. :)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Thanks Ken.  I believe the lighter spots are areas I damaged with the shovel while digging it out.  That made me more careful later in the day with the other bones - hence a lot of hand digging to free up the others.

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smt126 - thanks for the input. I am leaning toward the femur at this point and getting ready to send photos to Dr Hulbert at the FL Museum of Natural History.

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