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digit

Met-up in Arcadia with a friend of mine who drove down from Jacksonville with his family to do a little river sifting for some "black gold". I humorously refer to the fossils we pull from the Peace River using this term. While standing in the middle of the river scooping sand and gravel into my screen or sorting through the sifted gravel it seems to be normal human nature for folks passing downstream in canoes to ask what we are doing. This action seems to be triggered by the same gene responsible for asking people fishing along the river, "How are they biting?" and possibly also linked to the urge to "Moo" at cows you pass in cars along the road. Oddly, a majority of people out on the Peace River for no other reason but to enjoy the sights (and maybe camp along the shore) the question is not usually phrased along the lines of "Whatcha doing?" but rather the curious, "You looking for gold?" "Black gold" I tell them and explain that we are looking for shark teeth and other things (hard to get into too much detail as they float by on the current). I have to add FOSSIL shark teeth to clear up any confusion when they respond with something like, "Is this brackish water?" as I can see the panic build in their faces with the thought of living sharks patrolling the waters under the canoes they are precariously perched upon (I don't mention the gators so as not to inflict undue stress on an otherwise peaceful outing).

My Jacksonville friend came down with his wife and middle school age son who also invited his friend who he has known since pre-school. The boys had an excellent time on the river finding lots of small shark teeth (and a few meg fragments), enough dugong rib bone sections for them to finally lose interest in adding to their burgeoning collection, and a few horse teeth and other oddities thrown in as well. Sunday morning while doing a walk-in for a couple hours before their long journey back north we found a nice coprolite which, as you can imagine, is extra special to a 13 year old boy.

I spent most of the weekend digging and sifting with the others, helping them to spot and identify some of the more abstract fossil bits. The learning curve for spotting smaller shark teeth is about halfway through the first sifting screenful of gravel but many other things would likely be left behind by novice screeners without a bit of training. After finding I nice whale ear bone (tympanic bulla) earlier in the day, one of the boys successfully spotted a second one when it turned up in his screen--kids can be such quick studies at that age (as long as it is a topic that they are interested in). Didn't spend a lot of time sifting for on my own but got a chance to add to my collection when the boys were taking a rest and a snack break back by the canoes.

I did manage to turn up (in addition to the ear bone) a nice horse tooth, what appears to be a camelid astragalus, a fragment of a huge glyptodont plate, a turtle dermal plate, and what looks like a jawbone section. A few fish pieces as well including: a ray dermal denticle, a few fish scales (gar and otherwise), a couple of what appear to be rostral teeth from sawfish and what I'm guessing may be a tilly bone.

The water at the location we were hunting was running clear (despite rains a few days previous). It was reasonably shallow at what I call "frog depth" (knee-deep) . My wife decided to try a little surface hunting when she got tired of shoveling and shaking sifters. She's been a big fan of this approach ever since she turned up a perfect 3.25" meg laying in the sand next to her foot about a year ago. She did it again and found a really nice molar with a different pattern on the chewing surface that I'm assuming is a bison lower molar. Though there were few novel finds I did pull a shamer of a meg tooth frag that came from the largest meg tooth I've ever seen come out of the Peace.

Though the temps were a bit chilly in the morning, the overcast sky broke mid-morning and the sun shone through the solid blue sky to make it easier to see while we sifted through the jet black gravel for some "black gold" to take home. At the end of dinner the boys could barely keep their foreheads off the restaurant table so we knew they had a full day that hopefully will be a fond memory for years to come.

Here is a shot of a few of the notable finds that made their way into my goody belt over the weekend (not showing the hundred or so smaller shark teeth that go in the (growing) bowl with the others).

Cheers.

-Ken

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digit

Here is a closer picture of the huge fraglodon that came up in my sifter in an area that has very coarse gravel. Bigger gravel tends to mean bigger fossils. I like to tell people that fossils don't know they are fossils and they just hang out with gravel of the same approximate size. This meg tooth was easily twice the size of anything I've ever pulled out of the Peace. Too bad it is only the lower portion of the left side of what would have been a monster meg. It's still heavier than my biggest complete meg. Usually, the Peace River seems to serve-up megs in the 2-3" range but I guess it is a good sign to know that bigger teeth are possible, though the odds are long.

-Ken

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digit

Came across this odd mammal bone fragment. Since it has a relatively complete end on it which has what seem to be fairly identifiable joint surfaces I'm hoping that this might ring some bells with those on the Forum who know their mammal bones. There is another piece of bone which doesn't seem to fit perfectly but was found in the following screen of gravel so it might possibly be associated (shown in the overview photo at the start of this post). Anybody who can hazard a guess to the identity of this bone is welcome to comment on it.

-Ken

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digit

Here is a closer view of the (fairly worn down) tympanic bulla (ear bone) of what I assume is a smaller whale. I'm guessing this is probably a bit large for a dolphin but might be from a more medium sized whale. Interesting that it coincidentally is about the size and shape of a human ear.

-Ken

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digit

This is the molar that my wife was happy to spot through the clear tannic waters sitting barely covered in the sandy bottom. The chewing surface is well worn but seems to have a different pattern than the horse molars that I'm used to finding. I believe the distinguishing feature that separates bison molars from camelid molars is the presence of the extra single cone in addition to the paired cones found on both species. I am in no way an expert on large mammal molars and I'm slowly learning as I discover new specimens and consult my ID books and this forum. Please help me along in my education and give me some input on this molar.

-Ken

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digit

We often find proboscidean (elephant) tooth fragments while sifting. Both mammoth and mastodon/gomphothere teeth must be incredibly fragile as they do not survive well during their travels in the river. We found lots of flakes of mammoth tooth (a few with a couple of sandwich layers of the enamel and cementum) but mostly smaller chips which were still identifiable by looking at their distinctive edges. Mastodon molars are quite interesting as they have a fairly thick enamel on them which has a grayish grain pattern to it that turns rather pearlescent looking when small frags are 'rock tumbled' smooth in the river. Because of the color and grain of this gray enamel even very small, exceedingly worn pieces can be identified. Every once and a while you get a larger chunk of one of the cusps from one of these molars where you can see a nice cross section through the tooth. Here is a picture of such a chunk.

-Ken

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digit

Here is my second mystery find. I'm thinking this might be a hyperostotic fish bone ("Tilly bone"). I don't have many Tilly bones, not that they are uncommon. I am just not that great at identifying them yet. From what I can see online hyperostosis is the development of swollen spongy bones. This condition can apparently happen in many species but it seems relatively common in fish species for some reason. Many of these hyperostotic bones were described from Pliocene/Pleistocene formations in Florida and the name seems to honor Dr. Tilly Edinger (1897-1967) the founder of paleoneurology (there is a specialty for you).

Can anybody who has seen more than their fair share of Tilly bones comment on the possible "tillyness" of this item?

-Ken

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digit

I've seen better examples of jawbone segments in books and here online. Given the repeating pattern in the "slot" at the top of this bone (which does not photograph very well but is more evident toward the left side of the photo), I'm thinking this may be a section of well-worn jawbone. Is there any way to confirm such a diagnosis? Is there any way of determining what type of species might have originally owned this?

Thanks in advance for any instructional comments anybody can provide on this item.

-Ken

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fossilized6s

Your mystery "tilly bone" to me looks like a worn clam or very worn tortoise spur......just a guess though.

Not a bad haul!

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digit

Here is the last mystery piece from this batch. Originally when I gave this item 2 seconds of my attention before it was popped into my goody belt (an $0.89 nail belt from a big box home improvement store), I thought it might have been deer antler tine. The oval nature of the item with slight concavities on both ends reminded me of a male horse canine tooth that I recently found. This item looks a bit worn and beat-up and I'm wondering if anybody would care to take a guess at its true nature?

-Ken

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fossilized6s

I would definitely say antler tip, judging from the hollow end and it's "lumpy" nature. Just my 2 cents....

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digit

Your mystery "tilly bone" to me looks like a worn clam or very worn tortoise spur......just a guess though.

I wouldn't have gone in the direction of tortoise spur but only because the ones in my collection are not very worn and pretty true to type. Worn clam is a guess I wouldn't have even considered. I love the way photos of mystery bits on TFF take on the properties of Rorschach in blot tests. What I can say is that this thing made my biological Spidey Sense tingle (probably a copyrighted comic book phrase). It was somewhat, though incompletely, symmetrical and the convex side of it has a vague oblique ridged texture emanating from the midline in a pinnate fashion (the way barbs are attached to the rachis of a feather). I'll have to go look at this again and see if I can imagine it having molluscan tendencies.

Thanks for the feedback.

-Ken

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calhounensis

Came across this odd mammal bone fragment. Since it has a relatively complete end on it which has what seem to be fairly identifiable joint surfaces I'm hoping that this might ring some bells with those on the Forum who know their mammal bones. There is another piece of bone which doesn't seem to fit perfectly but was found in the following screen of gravel so it might possibly be associated (shown in the overview photo at the start of this post). Anybody who can hazard a guess to the identity of this bone is welcome to comment on it.

-Ken

I believe this is the proximal end of a mammal rib, I can't help in determining a species. My best guess would be bison, perhaps. I agree that you have a tilly bone there. Your molar is from an equus. Great finds!

Edit: The astragalus looks too small to be camelid, I would say deer based off the one angle shown.

Edited by calhounensis

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fossilized6s

I wouldn't have gone in the direction of tortoise spur but only because the ones in my collection are not very worn and pretty true to type. Worn clam is a guess I wouldn't have even considered. I love the way photos of mystery bits on TFF take on the properties of Rorschach in blot tests. What I can say is that this thing made my biological Spidey Sense tingle (probably a copyrighted comic book phrase). It was somewhat, though incompletely, symmetrical and the convex side of it has a vague oblique ridged texture emanating from the midline in a pinnate fashion (the way barbs are attached to the rachis of a feather). I'll have to go look at this again and see if I can imagine it having molluscan tendencies.

Thanks for the feedback.

-Ken

Im am far from an expert in any form of the word, as i have much to learn! Im just throwing out guesses.

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digit

I would definitely say antler tip, judging from the hollow end and it's "lumpy" nature. Just my 2 cents....

I'd say your $0.02 are probably on the right track. I looked back at some of my non-molar horse teeth and, even if this piece was exceedingly worn, it doesn't seem to be fitting into the search image of horse incisor/canine. Probably just a case of wishful thinking. I've got better examples of antler so this will likely go into the giveaway bag that I have. I use that bag as an enticement to get others hooked into the passion of fossil hunting--remember the first one is always on the dealer.... ;)

Cheers.

-Ken

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digit

I believe this is the proximal end of a mammal rib, I can't help in determining a species. My best guess would be bison, perhaps. I agree that you have a tilly bone there. Your molar is from an equus. Great finds!

Rib bone would be cool. I usually don't keep unidentifiable mammal (or other types of) bone fragments as they are not very interesting when all you can say is "bone". Being able to tell someone bison rib bone while showing off your collection is much more informative.

Good to see that my slightly symmetrical "blob" of a bone suggests Tilly to someone else as well.

I would have hoped the big molar might have proved to be something slightly more exotic than Equus but that fine as it doesn't look much like the other horse molars I already have in my collection. I only tend to keep one or two of the various types of fossils I find in the Peace River (selecting the best and upgrading my collection every time I go to the river). Once I have better examples of different types of fossils the replaced teeth go into the giveaway bag I have collecting bits and pieces in order to lure unsuspecting individuals into a passion for fossils.

Thanks for the feedback.

-Ken

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Auspex

You are spot on with Tilly Bone :)

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digit

You are spot on with Tilly Bone :)

Yay! Learning bit by bit... Now I may have to go get a copy of the paper on hyperostotic bones that I saw online and read up on this fascinating oddity. Can't say Tilly bones were on my radar last week but now I'm curious about all facets of them. I tend to like my education reactive instead of proactive these days.

Cheers.

-Ken

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jcbshark

Looks like you got some good stuff there Ken, I really like the colors on that horse tooth! :)

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