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Skull-yRose

I' m a local photographer in Flagler Beach, FL. I frequent a local beach almost daily. I have come across quite an interesting find. Currently due to stormy weather causing rough waves and some higher than normal tides the rocks have been sliding down into the ocean and breaking apart. Well a wonderful treasure was exposed in one of the rocks. A skull. There is also a tooth and what looks to be bone vertebrate. I am in the process of excavating currently but would love to know who this skull belongs to. Any help is appreciated!!

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Lone Hunter

Sorry but I'm not seeing a skull or bone or the tooth.  Might be bryozoan however that you think is bone. Wait for more knowledgeable ID :)

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Huntonia

Welcome to the forum!

I agree, not seeing any bone texture or skull anatomy here.

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Welcome to the Forum.  I am seeing evidence of a skull suture and cancellous bone (highlighted).  I'm not sure what it belongs to, but an overview image and a sense of scale would be useful.  :)

Screenshot_20220422-011226~4.png

 

Screenshot_20220422-011409~3.png

 

@Boesse

@digit

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Skull-yRose

@JohnJ

Yes there is suturing throughout the specimen indicating a skull. The dimensions of the skull from what I could measure were 9" lengthwise across and 4.5" height top to bottom. I can't measure the depth yet as it is still encased in the rock but so far I'd say there's a good 4"-5" depth.

 

@Huntonia @Lone Hunter

I will upload a few more pics that show the skull a little better with suturing. I also have 3 pieces of the skull that broke off when a friend tried helping to excavate. It is definitely bone tho. I'll try to find a better pic of the tooth as well.

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Mahnmut

Hi Skull- yRose,

I am also quite convinced that you got a skull there.

I do not know much about the geology there, but I think it may be wise to contact someone more expert before breaking it further in the effort to extract it?

@Boesse?

Best Regards,

J

Edited by Mahnmut
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pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

I agree, this looks like a skull. Mammalian, and by preservation probably relatively young, that's about all I can say. What's the type of stone/matrix it's been found in? And what consistency does it have? Is it loose, consolidated, clay-y? Seeing as how white the bone is, I wonder whether it could be a modern skull covered up by sediment due to the rough action of the sea? Something like that wouldn't be unheard of, but would depend on the type of matrix and whether the find was made in a primary or secondary depositional environment (i.e., the source rock the sediment comes from versus reworked sediment).

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Ossicle

The Anastasia Formation is a late Pleistocene limestone formation, which would fit nicely with mammalian skull.

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Mahnmut

Looks pinnipedy to me, but thats just a gut feeling.

(I always wanted to say that)

Cheers

J

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hemipristis
48 minutes ago, Ossicle said:

The Anastasia Formation is a late Pleistocene limestone formation, which would fit nicely with mammalian skull.

The photos illustrate coquina, a rock composed of shell hash mixed with sand (usually carbonate sand).  This is indicative of a shallow water depositional environment.

 

Coquina is much easier to work with than a crystalline limestone. A scribe or air abrader would do nicely.  The problem may be the size of the boulder.  You don't want to work it on the beach.  Is the boulder "portable", or can you make it so? 

 

Edited by hemipristis
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Skull-yRose

@hemipristis@Hemipitchis@Ossicle@pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon@Mahnmut

 

This is Coquina rock, correct! It is encased in a fairly large boulder so I am unable to move it as is. I have been trying to go around the skull focusing on the top to relieve some weight so as not to have it cave in on itself. There are an incredible amount of bones and fossils down at the rock beach, some look to be entire animal skeletons. And I'm sure this area has been studied before but I think right now it's a crucial time to reassess. I understand most fossils in Coquina rock are broken and scattered apart and hard to excavate but with the right people I definitely think it's doable, especially this skull which is incredibly preserved. But the water is eroding the Coquina rather quickly and I'm concerned about the skull being so exposed to the elements but still encased within the rock and unable to remove it just yet. I also fear that the large slab rock in front of the skull is going to slide down and smash into it. The slab is barely teetering on a few rocks with one rock in-between them keeping them from touching. At any moment this slab could slide forward. I've attached a picture to show it's location in reference to the rocks I'm speaking about.

 

 

Screenshot_20220422-062410_Photos.jpg

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Skull-yRose
2 hours ago, Mahnmut said:

Hi Skull- yRose,

I am also quite convinced that you got a skull there.

I do not know much about the geology there, but I think it may be wise to contact someone more expert before breaking it further in the effort to extract it?

@Boesse?

Best Regards,

J

I have contacted the Florida Museum of Natural History and had been emailing with a Dr. Hulbert but have not heard from him in a few weeks. I was also in contact with Jayson Kowinski aka the Fossil Guy but he didn't seem too concerned with the skull and kinda brushed it off. I'm not sure he understood what exactly is there. I also wrote to another fossil hunter but no response in a few weeks now. I did check locally for fossil clubs... nothing. I was told to contact Florida Wildlife to "dispose" of the skull... needless to say I passed on that one. 

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Fossildude19
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Tetradium
3 hours ago, Mahnmut said:

Hi Skull- yRose,

I am also quite convinced that you got a skull there.

I do not know much about the geology there, but I think it may be wise to contact someone more expert before breaking it further in the effort to extract it?

@Boesse?

Best Regards,

J

Look like Anastisia Formation from Atlantic Side of Florida. Seen coquina that color. Only had found shells and a few sand dollars so far from that formation but won't be surprised if skulls are found in there. 

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Ossicle

This is the vertebrate collections database for the Museum:

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/vertpaleo-search/search/results

 

I couldn't find a match for bone or skull from this formation, but I don't know what proportion of the collection is in the database. Also, I'm not used to this form of collections system, so I may have not searched it properly.

ETA: got it working now, missed a critical field, I think. 

Did Dr Hulbert mention if this type of find is unusual for this formation? You mention there is a lot of bone there, not just this skull, and some complete skeletons.

3 hours ago, Skull-yRose said:

I'm sure this area has been studied before

It may not have been. I'm wondering if it's a bone bed. Are the other bones similar in preservation to this?

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joshuavise

https://www.myfossil.org

This site seems to be run by a university organization based in Florida.  It may be useful for finding someone more knowledgeable about local fauna.  At the very least, you may find another amateur or two who know the area well.
Josh

Edited by joshuavise
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Hi all, Vertebrate fossils in the Anastasia Formation are very rare and mostly consist of, if memory serves, some sharks and land mammals. No idea what this is yet - though pinniped is certainly a possibility. If a marine mammal, this could be quite significant. Also, this is 100% a vertebrate fossil. However, I do wonder, based on the very ovoid cross section, if this is a turtle shell rather than a mammal skull.

 

Regardless, I highly recommend against further attempts to remove the specimen from the rock - collecting specimens from hard rock like limestone is quite difficult and will likely require extensive work with a hammer and chisel or a masonry saw.

 

Keep on calling/emailing Richard Hulbert.

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27 minutes ago, Ossicle said:

This is the vertebrate collections database for the Museum:

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/vertpaleo-search/search/results

 

I couldn't find a match for bone or skull from this formation, but I don't know what proportion of the collection is in the database. Also, I'm not used to this form of collections system, so I may have not searched it properly.

 

I am a bit more familiar with the FLMNH database search. Most of the Anastasia Formation fossils in the collection are from a coquina quarry but some are isolated finds along the beach. Not too many in the DB from what I can see but they are mostly mammals like deer or horse and indeed there is one Emydidae turtle which was my initial thought while seeing this.

 

The pieces extracted look worn on the edges but the suture lines do resemble what are seen in a skull but also what are seen joining the bones of a turtle shell. As Boesse suggested the shape does resemble an inflated (not crushed) turtle shell but then I would expect to see more evidence of peripheral (edge) bones and the bone is relatively thin in cross section so that is a bit of a strike against (most) turtle shells.

 

Quite the little mystery! Likely it will be difficult to determine with any certainty until it can be removed and seen more clearly. I understand this would be a pain and the rock that it is in is too large to remove from the site to work on so all I could suggest is a stone chisel to try to remove enough of the surrounding matrix to remove this item for further cleaning. I'm not sure if there are any prohibitions to disassembling rocks along this section of the beach so you might want to check into that first.

 

Dr. Hulbert is a busy guy (probably gets 100 emails/day) but keep trying to get in contact with him. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Skull-yRose

Hello all! I am currently at the site now and there has been some additional erosion around the skull as we've had a bit of high tide and with this wind pushing on shore is about to be high tide now and I expect it to higher than normal so the skull will be underwater. That's concerns me because the rock slab in front of it is just barely teetering and I'm afraid this may be the last time I see the skull. But I'm closer inspection of the newly exposed area it does somewhat resemble possibly a turtle shell as there's some indentation marks along with the suturing. I think the most recognizable part is on the inside there is this ridge to where the outside of the skull or shell would be pushed down and I think that will really help in determining what kind of animal this is. I've been doing a little bit of research on the Psephophorus polygonus and I'm thinking this could be something along those lines. I noticed the fins of the Psephophorus are rather odd and distinct. Well when looking down at the skull rock it almost looks as tho there is a set of fins/flippers fossilized in the rock (see pic). 

 

I was contacted by another member here in regards to Dr Hulbert and I'll be heading to the museum with my skull pieces to see him in the next day or so. So I'm already very thankful I decided to make a post here and everyone has been so very helpful, so thank you! Know it is so appreciated!!

 

I did mention I believed there were other animals here so I've have attached a pic as well.

 

 

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I agree that this original thing is bone, but I also wonder if it could be turtle.  As boesse said... could be important.  

 

These later photos do not look like bone from here.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Tetradium said:

...shells and a few sand dollars...

IMO, sand dollar is a candidate for this fossil.

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Skull-yRose

I tried to find some better pics.

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BullStrong

I'm in the turtle camp, I believe  I see what's left of the spine inside the shell at the dome apex

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Mark Kmiecik
4 hours ago, Auspex said:

IMO, sand dollar is a candidate for this fossil.

 

At nine inches?

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Huntonia
16 hours ago, Skull-yRose said:

@Huntonia @Lone Hunter

I will upload a few more pics that show the skull a little better with suturing. I also have 3 pieces of the skull that broke off when a friend tried helping to excavate. It is definitely bone tho. I'll try to find a better pic of the tooth as well.

Looks like I spoke too soon! Very interesting:popcorn:

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