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Fossil Prospecting Thoughts


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#1 auwg

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 02:32 PM

Some of this may sound pretty newbie-ish, but I don't care 'cuz I'm a newbie.
I've rooted through the Florida info pile here and elsewhere on the net and it seems most everybody recommends the same dozen or so sites for fossil hunting.
In all those messages and pages, no new sites have turned up for twenty years or so.
Understandable, I guess. Go where things have already been found.
But everybody's been going to those places for decades, and I've seen some comments like 'the days of "everybody finds a meg tooth" are over'.(about Aurora, NC, for instance)

Some say it's getting harder to find any decent meg teeth in the Peace River.
Got my doubts about that, but it could be mining techniques have to change a bit to reach them.
Dig deeper. Let the tourists work the surface stuff.

Ditto the creeks in Gainesville, apparently. Picked clean by too many pickers? Doubtful. Just out of reach of the most common tactics. Some say to wait for a storm and try again. That's fine, but between storms a shovel might be the method.

The Vulcan Mine in Brooksville is closed until further notice, and a couple of people I've talked to said it was getting harder to find anything good in the mine debris after digging stopped.
Well, yeah, that does seem kind of likely. :) No new debris and the old stuff was picked clean.

So... what's to stop us from NOT working in the streams and rivers? If the goodies are being washed into the waterways by erosion, why not move ashore ten feet or so and dig? Holes can be filled back in easily enough. Waterway embankments don't have to be disturbed. No soggy feet, no floaty noodles on the tools and sieves.

I realize there are usually issues about access to the land, but this discussion will presume (never assume) that permission has been somehow acquired. It will also presume diggers will not leave open pits lying around. Florida has enough holes and pits.
Come to think of it, Old sinkholes provide a perfect way to get at the subsurface. Has anyone tried excavating the slopes of sinkholes to see if there are layers of fossil stuff?

I look at where SR476 bends sharply around the Vulcan Mine. One side of the road is mine property. The other side is private property and there appears to be a fairly deep drainage canal passing under the road.
If there were abundant fossils on one side of that road, why wouldn't they be on the other side as well?

For that matter, all of Florida has been submerged repeatedly. There are bound to be some spots better than others due to all the things that make animal life congregate, but it seems to me that you could dig a hole pretty much anywhere in Florida and turn up some kind of fossil. Might be a matter of depth, depending on the region.

The 49'ers mostly just followed each other to the gold creeks and started panning. That system seems to be what I'm seeing with fossils.
Some 49'ers dug test pits and mines and most of them found absolutely nothing, but they were looking for concentrations of gold, not fossils of creatures that roamed all over the landscape.

Am I oversimplifying things? Not seeing something?
Shouldn't we be able to dig up meg teeth pretty much anywhere in the Peace River region?
Ed

#2 Auspex

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:03 PM

Assuming you can get a landowner to let you dig holes in his property, the finds from doing so would not be apt to measure up to expectations: the magic of creek crawling is that the moving water has sorted, cleaned, and concentrated the fossils it has eroded out of loooong stretches of creek bank. Even a 6'X6'X6' hole (lotsa' work) might only contain maybe a couple fossils.

New sites are discovered, but are held closely to keep them from being hunted out.

"There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about."
-Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant


#3 NelsonFL

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 08:13 PM

You are right, dig and you will find fossils. But unless water has done the work for you, you will be doing a lot of digging. Florida oldest fossil was over 2 miles deep in a core sample.

#4 auwg

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 09:51 PM

Assuming you can get a landowner to let you dig holes in his property, the finds from doing so would not be apt to measure up to expectations: the magic of creek crawling is that the moving water has sorted, cleaned, and concentrated the fossils it has eroded out of loooong stretches of creek bank. Even a 6'X6'X6' hole (lotsa' work) might only contain maybe a couple fossils.
New sites are discovered, but are held closely to keep them from being hunted out.


I've dug archaeo sites in Europe, so I know best guesses can result in zip results. That's just how things go sometimes.
Then you find what was hidden down a well when the bad guys of some historical moment invaded. Trier, Germany, 1972. Two small wooden boxes, sixty-one coins and a ring.
For me, the main difference with fossils is that I won't have to turn what I find over to anyone.

A 6x6x6 chunk of dirt right next to the Peace River should turn up good stuff.
Likely the same in Gainesville, but permits to dig might be hard to come by.
Ed

#5 auwg

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 09:56 PM

Florida oldest fossil was over 2 miles deep in a core sample.


Completely irrelevant.
I'm looking for late-model fossils near the surface.
Ed

#6 tracer

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 10:06 PM

time's a wastin'.
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#7 Shellseeker

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 10:34 PM

My sense from talking to people and seeing their finds is that there are numerous outstanding fossils being found all the time in Florida.
Yes, it is not as easy as it was 30 years, 20 years, 15 years, 10 and 5 years, but if anyone tells you that there are not volumes of high quality fossils in and of the high quality , well known locations, they either do not know what they are talking about or they are just handing you a line of BS.
Does everyone find perfect fossils laying in shallow water -- no, Do some people find numerous excellent fossils -- yep. Last month my fossil partner pulled a 2.4 inch upper Mako, and 4 Megs from 2.25 to 2.75 with perfect serrations and perfect points. all laying in locations where they had been for thousands of years, all found within a span of 3 hours and all within 1/2 mile of a location supposedly fossiled out.

I believe it take hundreds of years to wash fossils out of the surrounding land. There may be great fossils in the river banks because they were at one time gravel beds, but vast majority of fossils are deep underground >> 5 feet and scattered. When some one does stumble across a sink hole, they have no incentive to spread the word,

#8 auwg

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 11:02 PM

My sense from talking to people and seeing their finds is that there are numerous outstanding fossils being found all the time in Florida.
Yes, it is not as easy as it was 30 years, 20 years, 15 years, 10 and 5 years, but if anyone tells you that there are not volumes of high quality fossils in and of the high quality, well known locations, they either do not know what they are talking about or they are just handing you a line of BS.
Does everyone find perfect fossils laying in shallow water -- no, Do some people find numerous excellent fossils -- yep. Last month my fossil partner pulled a 2.4 inch upper Mako, and 4 Megs from 2.25 to 2.75 with perfect serrations and perfect points. all laying in locations where they had been for thousands of years, all found within a span of 3 hours and all within 1/2 mile of a location supposedly fossiled out.
I believe it take hundreds of years to wash fossils out of the surrounding land. There may be great fossils in the river banks because they were at one time gravel beds, but vast majority of fossils are deep underground >> 5 feet and scattered. When some one does stumble across a sink hole, they have no incentive to spread the word.


Tend to agree. I spent this afternoon putzing around in mine tailings near 476 and came up with some teeth. Not a mark on the terrain, not a path through the grass; apparently nobody's thought to check the backsides of the dredge piles that form the perimeter.
Ed

#9 chele

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:55 AM

I like to hunt the rivers because new things always seem to pop up. Everytime it raises or lowers there is something new. Also it is very relaxing to just walk up and down the bank, makes a great afternoon. As far as finding nothing because everybody and their grandma's hunt there does not mean much. I have found lovely fossils where there is heavy traffic. After watching people hunt I can see why things are missed. Some go a hundred miles an hour because they want to find something before any one else, or they do not know what to look for. I have had people say "how did you find that, I just went through there and found nothing". I am by no means an expert or even close, I am below novice at best. When I hunt I go sloooow, look at everything. 90 percent of what I pick up turns out to be nothing and I go home with a sore back, and some times with some very nice fossils. So go out determined, keep a sharp eye and have some fun. Even if you only find little things that are simple or blah you found something, which is in my book better than nothing! :D

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#10 Auspex

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 07:32 AM

...and in persisting, the stream changes the rock which cradles it and gives it form and purpose, forever altering itself. B)

"There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about."
-Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant


#11 chele

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 10:38 AM

...and in persisting, the stream changes the rock which cradles it and gives it form and purpose, forever altering itself. B)

That is great! :thumbsu: Auspex, administrator and motivational speaker!!
Chelebele




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