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ClearLake

My wife and I returned from a great trip to north Florida about a week and a half ago, but I finally have time to post a trip report now that our Easter visitors (our kids) have left and headed back to their homes.   Fair warning, if you are looking for some great tale of finds on the Peace River, this is not the post for you!  Probably one of the few posts on the Forum from a trip to Florida that does NOT include the Peace –:heartylaugh:.  This was not solely a fossil trip, but rather a sight-seeing trip with some fossils stops included, I try to include as many stops as possible but it is always a delicate balance.  My wife enjoys fossil hunting (but her tastes are somewhat limited, primarily trilobites and sharks teeth), but not as much as I do, and she therefore reaches her limit much quicker than I, so I try to find the best spots I can and space them out and we both have a good time. 

 

I had sent away for and received my Florida Fossil Permit a couple months back in anticipation of the trip, and then half way between Texas and Florida I realized I had left it at home – doh!!  I wasn’t overly concerned though as the main focus of the trip was invertebrates and sharks teeth, neither of which actually require the permit to collect in Florida.  Oh well, it was the thought that counts!  I had done a bunch of research heading up to the trip and consulted a few FF members for advice (more on that in a bit) so I had a list of potential sites many of which had reported fossils in the past, but the current state was uncertain.  I was trying to get a selection of Eocene through Quaternary sites to collect and was not coming with a canoe or kayak which quickly limits the collecting places in North Florida.  Enough babbling, on with the trip report!

 

Our first stop was on our way to Florida Caverns State Park at a river side bluff of the Marianna Limestone (Oligocene aged).  This is in fact the type section of the Marianna Limestone, but time has not been kind to this exposure.  Between development and vegetation, there was virtually no exposed rock but I did manage to find of few pieces of the formation strewn about and the one large chunk shown below on the left contained the large foram Lepidocyclina along with other fossils.  There was also a mostly complete bivalve in a small piece.  All of these need cleaned up and I hope the large rock will hold some more goodies that can be exposed once I have the chance to look at it closer.

image.png.ebd921a31a091a24d15f8c5c99da5b91.png                                image.png.1a79bf9a9c747fe2237b89358dc82be3.png image.png

 

The visit to Florida Caverns State Park was very nice.  I was pleasantly surprised as I did not know Florida had a cave like this.  I have been in most of the large cave systems in the US, and this one had bats and nice cave formations even though it is not a particularly large cave.  The ceiling rock in places is just rich with fossils as you can see in the picture below.  There was even a sharks tooth sticking out at one place, but I did not get a good picture of it. 

 

1441160647_FLoridaCaverns.thumb.JPG.49bc589e863c99885dc73a8ec92af77f.JPG

 

Next on the list were several stops to try and find a decent exposure of the Miocene Chipola Formation which is present across the northern part of the Florida panhandle from Walton to Gadsden counties.  Unfortunately, development, vegetation and high water in the creeks/rivers prevented me from accessing any of the fossiliferous portions of the rocks at four different stops, including one I had been to a couple of decades ago and collected some beautiful fossils.  I’ll show below some Chipola fossils that although they were not collected on this trip, they are some of the 30 species of bivalves and 38 species of gastropods I collected from a location in Calhoun County many years ago but was unable to access this trip.  A quick search of TFF will yield many other beautiful Chipola specimens by other members in albums, etc.

 

image.png.28043bcf896b841246d8db4166369d15.png           image.png.9d3e63cbc1b0ba968117743e0d414cbe.pngimage.png.87c8e00a995c26d6ec381948ec7dbf37.png    image.png.53b1137b81cd1e754bf633f85771d8f0.png       image.png.e3dbc159e3852acd4e7aea9dc58172ee.png   

 

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After another State Park or two we were headed on down the road to our hotel with not much in the way of fossils to show for the day.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a random pile of dirt along the road with suspicious white blobs.  A quick stop resulted in several fossils out of what is presumably the Ocala or Suwannee Limestone from a nearby quarry, including one echinoid that needs a good cleaning before I can tell what it is.  I’ll have to ID the items I found and see if I can determine which formation these are from.  In north Florida, this constitutes a major “outcrop”!

 

image.png.7ace0e2bfcd19671d3df747936149ab1.png            image.png.3cdfc1a8931723f2e90ab7fbd4d1b9bd.png

 

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ClearLake

The next day was dedicated to hunting for Ocala echinoids (and other things) as well as manatees (the live kind).  A couple of stops were unsuccessful in finding fossiliferous rock but we did stop at a quarry just outside of Mayo that had promising looking spoils piles right next to the road.  A quick recon showed fossils to be present but on the active quarry property (although well away from the action).  A stop into the office almost was successful, the first gentleman I talked to was very nice and seemed willing to let us pick over the piles near the road, but a check with his boss yielded the more anticipated polite no.  Rats, foiled again!  On down to the Yankeetown area where I had received some great advice from TFF members @digit and @Sacha about echinoid hunting in the area.  A search along the Cross Florida Canal yielded several nice specimens of Eupatagus antillarum and the smaller flattish echinoids which need to get cleaned up to ID (but some form of Neolaganidae I assume) as well as some bivalves and gastropods.  I know these are the fairly common finds here and the local collectors are probably sick of them, but they are new to me, so that is fun.

 

image.png.b48eddc728785db94ad2b3fb6c066f56.png        image.png.d930ba6f5a8907a57a8eaae5c8627ae6.png 

 

image.png.3ea0f2da2585af0d44b4d75da02f8551.png    image.png.6fa8483cfda9099b354e73c463a93b9e.png 

 image.png.0a955241808806f263fee7088019a454.png     image.png.8d408e98a0558f152fca02a5495ecdf0.png       

 

After a couple of days in the area and hanging out with the manatees, our next stop was one of my favorites.  We headed up to Gainesville to see some sights there and meet up with TFF member Ken @digit and his wife Tammy.  They were the most gracious hosts in telling us some things to see in the area and treating us to a wonderful shark tooth hunt in a Gainesville area creek bed. We sifted some gravel for a while and came away with a nice selection of shark teeth, ray plates, bone fragments, invertebrate bits, etc.  I also came home with bags of matrix to pick through that will keep me occupied for quite some time.  The Natural History Museum at UF was on my trip list and well worth the visit, but the bat houses and Satchels Pizza were added surprises.  Thanks again Ken and Tammy for your very kind hospitality, what a great ambassador for TFF!!!

 

image.png.eca79412e9acef9ee49b2a7771bdb2a9.png   image.png.5b020ec35407ce82e0146c3447c2be4d.png

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After Gainesville, we headed to the northeast coast of Florida for a few days of checking out the shore, state parks and doing some shark tooth hunting on the beaches.  Fort Clinch State Park on the north end of Amelia Island yielded the best shark tooth hunting that we found in that stretch. 

 

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After that, we headed back towards home.  It was a great trip, picked up some nice fossils (maybe not as many as I had hoped, but that’s OK), saw some nice sights, and met some new wonderful people all while staying safe and healthy.  I can’t ask for more than that, thanks for reading along.

 

Mike

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Great having you over for a Gainesville hunt. Always happy to share the fossil wealth with TFF members passing through. I'd like to thank Mike and his wife for continuing the tradition of being delightful representatives of the forum to meet-up with without the need for keyboards and software. I've met some really great forum members on their home turf and I'm happy to return the favor in kind. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Nimravis

What a great and informative trip report, thanks for taking the time to put it together.

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caterpillar
8 hours ago, ClearLake said:

My wife and I returned from a great trip to north Florida about a week and a half ago, but I finally have time to post a trip report now that our Easter visitors (our kids) have left and headed back to their homes.   Fair warning, if you are looking for some great tale of finds on the Peace River, this is not the post for you!  Probably one of the few posts on the Forum from a trip to Florida that does NOT include the Peace –:heartylaugh:.  This was not solely a fossil trip, but rather a sight-seeing trip with some fossils stops included, I try to include as many stops as possible but it is always a delicate balance.  My wife enjoys fossil hunting (but her tastes are somewhat limited, primarily trilobites and sharks teeth), but not as much as I do, and she therefore reaches her limit much quicker than I, so I try to find the best spots I can and space them out and we both have a good time. 

 

I had sent away for and received my Florida Fossil Permit a couple months back in anticipation of the trip, and then half way between Texas and Florida I realized I had left it at home – doh!!  I wasn’t overly concerned though as the main focus of the trip was invertebrates and sharks teeth, neither of which actually require the permit to collect in Florida.  Oh well, it was the thought that counts!  I had done a bunch of research heading up to the trip and consulted a few FF members for advice (more on that in a bit) so I had a list of potential sites many of which had reported fossils in the past, but the current state was uncertain.  I was trying to get a selection of Eocene through Quaternary sites to collect and was not coming with a canoe or kayak which quickly limits the collecting places in North Florida.  Enough babbling, on with the trip report!

 

Our first stop was on our way to Florida Caverns State Park at a river side bluff of the Marianna Limestone (Oligocene aged).  This is in fact the type section of the Marianna Limestone, but time has not been kind to this exposure.  Between development and vegetation, there was virtually no exposed rock but I did manage to find of few pieces of the formation strewn about and the one large chunk shown below on the left contained the large foram Lepidocyclina along with other fossils.  There was also a mostly complete bivalve in a small piece.  All of these need cleaned up and I hope the large rock will hold some more goodies that can be exposed once I have the chance to look at it closer.

image.png.ebd921a31a091a24d15f8c5c99da5b91.png                                image.png.1a79bf9a9c747fe2237b89358dc82be3.png image.png

 

The visit to Florida Caverns State Park was very nice.  I was pleasantly surprised as I did not know Florida had a cave like this.  I have been in most of the large cave systems in the US, and this one had bats and nice cave formations even though it is not a particularly large cave.  The ceiling rock in places is just rich with fossils as you can see in the picture below.  There was even a sharks tooth sticking out at one place, but I did not get a good picture of it. 

 

1441160647_FLoridaCaverns.thumb.JPG.49bc589e863c99885dc73a8ec92af77f.JPG

 

Next on the list were several stops to try and find a decent exposure of the Miocene Chipola Formation which is present across the northern part of the Florida panhandle from Walton to Gadsden counties.  Unfortunately, development, vegetation and high water in the creeks/rivers prevented me from accessing any of the fossiliferous portions of the rocks at four different stops, including one I had been to a couple of decades ago and collected some beautiful fossils.  I’ll show below some Chipola fossils that although they were not collected on this trip, they are some of the 30 species of bivalves and 38 species of gastropods I collected from a location in Calhoun County many years ago but was unable to access this trip.  A quick search of TFF will yield many other beautiful Chipola specimens by other members in albums, etc.

 

image.png.28043bcf896b841246d8db4166369d15.png           image.png.9d3e63cbc1b0ba968117743e0d414cbe.pngimage.png.87c8e00a995c26d6ec381948ec7dbf37.png    image.png.53b1137b81cd1e754bf633f85771d8f0.png       image.png.e3dbc159e3852acd4e7aea9dc58172ee.png   

 

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image.png.acea666a64df627c847e0d270b946a6e.png                 image.png.64a4ad843997f3b9614f4e110d95e27e.pngimage.png.d4a78044e706c70a0951f5ffc243eef5.png     

 

After another State Park or two we were headed on down the road to our hotel with not much in the way of fossils to show for the day.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a random pile of dirt along the road with suspicious white blobs.  A quick stop resulted in several fossils out of what is presumably the Ocala or Suwannee Limestone from a nearby quarry, including one echinoid that needs a good cleaning before I can tell what it is.  I’ll have to ID the items I found and see if I can determine which formation these are from.  In north Florida, this constitutes a major “outcrop”!

 

image.png.7ace0e2bfcd19671d3df747936149ab1.png            image.png.3cdfc1a8931723f2e90ab7fbd4d1b9bd.png

 

image.png.52033b36a86326764fb2d113ea095607.png                                image.png.62e8aa8987815ac4cbc2404881fe4f24.png    

 

image.png.b528776e233daf54faf55dd437ed3da0.png

 

 

The uncertain echinoid could be a Cassidulus

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ClearLake

Thanks @Nimravis glad you enjoyed. 

 

6 hours ago, caterpillar said:

The uncertain echinoid could be a Cassidulus

Thanks, I will check that out. I hope to start cleaning some of those up today so I should be able to get a better idea of what they look like. 

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9 hours ago, caterpillar said:

The uncertain echinoid could be a Cassidulus

Not entirely sure this genus of echinoids occurs in northern Florida. I'm far less knowledgeable about Florida inverts and do not claim to be an expert in those with backbones either. Most of the echinoids we encounter up here in Florida tend to be from Eocene age rocks. Do you know the temporal range if Cassidulus?

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy

Love the report and the photos. Nice job with the ID work. Just curious, what is that green mineral shown in the photo of the Florida Caverns ceiling/walls? It almost looks like little bits of emerald or jade in the rock, but I know it's not. I've actually found loose bits of this same green mineral while fossil hunting and am curious what it is.

 

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8 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

Just curious, what is that green mineral shown in the photo of the Florida Caverns ceiling/walls? It almost looks like little bits of emerald or jade in the rock, but I know it's not. I've actually found loose bits of this same green mineral while fossil hunting and am curious what it is.

Interested in hearing that you believe this green to be mineral based (usually a sign of something involving the element copper in my limited experience). I assumed looking at the photo that this was taken in an area of the cave system where natural (or artificial) light permeated to at least a minimal degree. I figured the green was chlorophyll from some sort of algae/lichen. Would appreciate knowing the true answer if there is someone here who knows for certain.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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ClearLake

I believe Ken is right. As I recall, that was an area of algal growth which were not uncommon on the damp areas of the cave. While that may seem odd in a cave (no light), there are algae that thrive without using photosynthesis and have been reported from caves. Also, as Ken suggested, unnatural light in these caves has allowed other things to grow that would not normally. So I’m virtually certain, what is in the picture is not mineral. However, glauconite is a common mineral is some sedimentary rocks that indeed is green.  It forms under certain specific conditions and can be quite prevalent sometimes. Perhaps that is what you are finding in other situations @Bone Daddy  Thanks for the comments. 

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15 minutes ago, ClearLake said:

I believe Ken is right.

Bound to happen sooner or later. :P

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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ClearLake
37 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

Nice job with the ID work.

I should also point out that while we were collecting the sharks teeth in the creek, Ken was telling me what everyone of them was, I just couldn’t keep up with filing all the info away in my memory!!  :heartylaugh:  So I will have to go back through them and rediscover the ID’s. There are a few I know, but shark teeth identification can sometimes be a bit of a black hole for me. 

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Bone Daddy
1 hour ago, ClearLake said:

I believe Ken is right. As I recall, that was an area of algal growth which were not uncommon on the damp areas of the cave. While that may seem odd in a cave (no light), there are algae that thrive without using photosynthesis and have been reported from caves. Also, as Ken suggested, unnatural light in these caves has allowed other things to grow that would not normally. So I’m virtually certain, what is in the picture is not mineral. However, glauconite is a common mineral is some sedimentary rocks that indeed is green.  It forms under certain specific conditions and can be quite prevalent sometimes. Perhaps that is what you are finding in other situations @Bone Daddy  Thanks for the comments. 

 

I was unsure what I was looking at there - the lighting can make it tricky, but thanks for the clarification.  :)

 

I have periodically found some isolated green crystals, either in my sifter or in matrix material taken from dry land sites. It looks like dull emerald or jade and is pretty hard, definitely harder than glauconite. I have no idea what it is. I don't have a handy example or photo, but I will snap a photo the next time I run across one in my boxes of stuff.

 

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14 hours ago, digit said:

Not entirely sure this genus of echinoids occurs in northern Florida. I'm far less knowledgeable about Florida inverts and do not claim to be an expert in those with backbones either. Most of the echinoids we encounter up here in Florida tend to be from Eocene age rocks. Do you know the temporal range if Cassidulus?

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

Take a look at C.evergladensis

http://www.echinologia.com/galeries/cassidulidae/index.html#cassidulus

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I just checked the FLMNH invertebrate paleontology database and there is one record of a Cassidulus sp. from the (Eocene) Ocala Limestone in the Inglis, FL area where the "uncertain echinoid" was collected from. Will check with Roger Portell who well knows the echinoids from northern Florida. ;)

 

Always enjoy learning new information about Florida fossils.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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9 hours ago, caterpillar said:

Take a look at C.evergladensis

I think you are on to something.  Most of the webistes I see on the Florida echinoids of this sort refer to the genus as Rhyncholampas rather than Cassidulus, but I don't know enough to have an opinion on which is more current.  I see from the UF website that @digit mentioned that there is also a Rhycholampas gouldii that is from the Suwannee (Oligocene) which may be a better match than R. evergladensis which I only see from the younger Tamiami Fm.  I also found a post from @Sacha that mentions several species of Rhyncholampas from the Ocala.  But again, I just started looking at this so I'm on a steep learning curve.  My next task is to finish cleaning it so I can see the top better, but the bottom definitely puts it in this genus and then to find some references which explain the differences to me.  That was a pretty sharp eye you had to see that through all that matrix, thanks for the suggestion!!

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Roger Portell weighed in on this. He said that it is the not too uncommon Rhyncholampas ericsoni. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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4 minutes ago, digit said:

Roger Portell weighed in on this. He said that it is the not too uncommon Rhyncholampas ericsoni. ;)

 

Thanks, I think that's amazing given how covered in limestone it is, it helps to that he's an expert in these things.  I'm getting it pretty clean and when I'm done I'll post some new pictures and see if I can convince him it is R. trojanus instead of R. ericsoni.  That's how I was leaning at the moment based on the height, but maybe I'll convince myself differently -haha.  I have to read the USGS Prof Paper 321 a couple dozen more times for it to sink in.  Appreciate the input.

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Awaiting a photo of a cleaned-up specimen. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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OK, I have cleaned it up most of the way, still a couple of spots that need a little work, but should be good enough for ID.  I think it came out pretty nice, I especially like the bottom surface, that is really neat looking!  Here is the before picture (posted earlier) and the after picture:

image.png.a932f89a9b323f6ba56a00c8188bcbda.png                   image.png.7bd0b5e46a1f78c4ee9717a75ab253b6.png  

 

Here are some other views of the specimen:

   image.png.dd0149ba8b9a1dd8acecafb6ea084d3e.png              image.png.98ab9fa6752b95b05bb9b709dbea4aad.png        image.png.f788489137fa99b9c8f65679b335daa1.png          

 

 

So, I'm currently torn on the ID between Rhyncholampas ericsoni as suggested by Roger Portell and R. trojanus.  I am going mostly by what I read in USGS Professional Paper 321 Cenozoic Echinoids of the United States by C.W. Cooke (1959).  His nice binary key suggests I need to focus on the the relative width of the petals and overall size to distinguish between the two and the text also mentions the relative height.  I don't think I can tell about the petal width from my specimen and the illustrations in the paper (see below from Plate 24 in above reference) and the size of mine (33mm by 27mm) sort of falls between the two species, but R. ericsoni, as illustrated, is a much higher dome than mine, so based on that I would lean to R. trojanus.  But others will have way more experience with these than I do.

 

 image.png.602b49ea769bcf9067795ac10dd6979c.png image.png.a3e7a68e1564aab83e236b0dad50c049.png          

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