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digit

Peace River, again

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digit

Last week I tied my previous (paltry) record for last season's number of visits to the Peace River on an outing with John (@Sacha). Last weekend I surpassed that measly mark by making it to the river for a third time in as many weeks. On a good course to have a record setting year if water and weather cooperate.

 

Weather brought my brother Dan and his Wife Jen from Chicago for a long weekend. The day before they left the chilly north that was in the grips of an Arctic blast, he sent me this photo from his car's dashboard as he was driving to work in the morning. I said it looked like the temperature display from my car but missing the leading '8'.

 

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We picked them up at Fort Lauderdale Airport and stopped for some yummy Greek food nearby before heading back home for a relatively early night. I double checked the water level on the Peace River and it was holding nicely (actually dropping an inch or two since last I dipped a sifting screen in it). I then did a Google search for the weather report for Arcadia to verify that the temperature forecast and precipitation percentage were in line with what seen the day before. Instead of the balmy weather I'd been planning on, the forecast showed an overnight low of 40F and a high of only 58F--nearly 30 degrees colder than I'd been expecting. I was shocked that the Arctic weather had managed to extend its frigid reach to this part of Florida and headed off to bed thinking of how I'd have to change my plans to make this a welcoming activity for my brother and his wife--both first time fossil hunters. The next morning, my alarm went off at 3:00am and I tossed the last of the equipment into the car, I tossed in my wetsuit and some jackets which I figured would be needed. Just before I bundled in three sleepy passengers for the trip across state, I did one more quick check on the internet to verify the dire weather prediction. It was then that I realized that my previous night's search was incomplete and I had only Googled "weather Arcadia" and had missed the very important addition of "fl". What I had seen the night before was the forecast for Arcadia, CA which was significantly different from that for Arcadia, FL. I was quite relieved to see the high once again forecast at 86F which would actually make the still chilly 61F water feel refreshing. In a much happier mood, we once again made the trek over Lake Okeechobee and on to Arcadia, arriving in time to rent our canoes from Canoe Outpost and leave for Brownville on the 8:00am bus.

 

We set off downstream and stopped at the well-known gravel bed just a few minutes paddling from the put in. This is an area that gets worked hard throughout the season and ends up looking like a bombing range with all the pot holes in the bottom (but is reset each summer like a large fluvial Etch-a-Sketch). To hunt here you need to be careful not to waste too much time digging in gravel that is just redistributed spoils of someone else's searches. It takes a bit of prospecting but once you turn up a few nice finds that you are pretty sure a previous fossil hunter would have grabbed given the opportunity, you can be pretty certain you are digging in fresh (and hopefully productive) gravel. It wasn't long before the finds started turning up in the sifting screen and Dan and Jen started seeing why I'm always on about hunting in the Peace River.

 

PC170001.jpg    PC170002.jpg

 

PC170003.jpg    PC170005.jpg

 

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digit

It wasn't long before we turned up some small broken megs among the many other shark teeth in our sifting screens. Tammy and I took turns working with both Dan and Jen to show them the technique and help them spot finds in the sifter. We turned up the smallest tooth of the species we formerly called a "mako" in the Peace River but now (with new information) need to refer to as either a "White Shark" (though not "Great") or possibly a "Broad-tooth White Shark". I, of course, reverted to my old ways and exclaimed "Mako!" before correcting myself and providing more background to this nomenclatural change than these new hunters needed or cared for. I had to laugh when in the same sifting screen we pulled a good size Tiger tooth that dwarfed the White.

 

2016-12-18 11-39-52.jpg

 

It wasn't long before my brother spotted a nice lower Equus tooth (though he didn't know what it was at the time). Our niece Ella has been a dedicated rider for years and I think Dan has plans to present this tooth to her for the holidays.

 

2016-12-19 12-36-41.jpg    2016-12-19 12-48-56.jpg

 

We also came upon a really beat-up tooth that at first I thought might be camelid but I'm now thinking is probably just a poor condition example of an upper horse molar.

 

2016-12-19 12-26-18.jpg    2016-12-19 12-31-54.jpg

 

The other interesting find that looked more interesting when it was examined later back at the house is this osteoderm that appears to be Holmesina. It's broken and incomplete but the thing that makes it of interest to me is that it appears to be some sort of edge piece as only one side seems to have the thick suture edge that would have connected it to another osteoderm. The other edge seems rounded.

 

2016-12-19 11-59-44.jpg    2016-12-19 12-03-11.jpg

 

2016-12-19 12-11-38.jpg    2016-12-19 12-18-06.jpg

 

We found some really small chips of proboscidean tusk and my brother even got the search image for these down pat when he was able to identify several other tiny fragments. We had one small chunk of mammoth molar and a really good size "knuckle" of a broken mastodon molar. These teeth must be really fragile as I never seem to find more than little pieces like this.

 

2016-12-19 11-57-13.jpg

 

We moved down river after a few hours and stopped at the spot that has chunkier gravel and always serves up lots of dugong rib bones. After some time there with no exceptional finds, we finished off at a third spot that I'd found that has reasonably plentiful fine (pea size) gravel. I like to stop here when we have friends with kids joining us as the kids like the number of tiny shark teeth that can be pulled from this spot. We shoveled a few screens full of gravel and averaged around a dozen teeth per screen (all small) till half a three inch meg appeared in the screen among the tiny gravel. It was quite out of place and was the exception that proved the rule that tiny gravel contains tiny fossils.

 

2016-12-19 11-48-37.jpg

 

 

 

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digit

Not long after the big fraglodon appeared, we found a nice little vert with all of the processes still attached. I'm assuming this is a vertebra from a small (modern) gator. The bone is not mineralized and I would not have expected a fossil to have survived in this good of condition. I photographed this so that I'd have a reference as to what a gator vert should look like (assuming I'm correct in my ID).

 

2016-12-19 11-01-48.jpg    2016-12-19 11-05-47.jpg

 

2016-12-19 11-10-31.jpg    2016-12-19 11-15-15.jpg

 

Finally, here are a couple of my more interesting finds. This piece initially looked like a worn and rounded bone fragment but odd enough that I kept it. It has the same surface texture all around and is very symmetrical. I can think of two possibilities of what (I hope) this might possibly be but I'd like to hear the opinions of those more knowledgeable on this forum.

 

2016-12-19 11-43-55.jpg

 

The next interesting little find that came from this last site with the fine gravel was this small rodent mandible with molars and a broken incisor (which you can see curves all the way around the edge of the lower jaw). Looking at the teeth I'm thinking this is likely from a Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) and may possibly be modern. I may give this one the flame test to see if I can detect the presence of collagen protein. Pretty neat find even if it turns out to be modern.

 

2016-12-19 14-09-37.jpg    2016-12-19 15-00-18_A14.jpg    2016-12-19 14-53-14_A14.jpg

 

The very last sifting screen of the day (before we raced back to Canoe Outpost to turn in the canoe by 5:00pm) contained two interesting items. I now realize that the first find is sitting in a different pile and I neglected to photograph it--but will soon rectify that oversight. It is a tiny armadillo osteoderm--not from the larger species but from the (relatively) small Dasypus bellus. It is only the second osteoderm that I have from this species that was only slightly larger than our modern Nine-banded Armadillo. In the very same screen, my very last find of the day was a small cylindrical object that I couldn't see too clearly as the light was starting to fade a bit and my eyes are too old even with my reading glasses. I tucked it into my bag and hoped against hope that I'd not be proven wrong when I was able to look at it more closely under magnification.

 

I am happy to say that my first thought of an identification seems to have been proven out. I believe this to be a peg-tooth of a smaller species of Xenarthra (an armadillo). While photographing this specimen it apparently became brittle when drying out as it split right down the middle. Before gluing it back together this allowed me to get a rare internal view. Two rare armadillo finds in the last screen of the day was certainly a great way of capping off another fun trip on the river, and one we were able to share with family.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

2016-12-18 11-49-15.jpg    2016-12-18 11-54-11.jpg

 

2016-12-19 10-42-03.jpg    2016-12-18 12-08-26.jpg

 

 

 

 

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jcbshark

Nice finds Ken, glad you could get out again:)

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digit

I treasure each moment I'm out on the hunt looking for something in my sifting screen and hoping for something novel that will provide a new opportunity to learn.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Harry Pristis

No scale in your images, Ken?  I think the second is a camelid tooth, not equus.  I don't recognize the vertebra, but I don't think it's 'gator.

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FossilDudeCO

I agree Ken. Not a gator vert. The processes on the gator verts tend to lay flatter. Atleast the ones I have seen.

I don't recognize it, but I think it is something special!

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digit

Yes. I am lax at putting scales in my images but usually mention dimensions in the descriptions. I'll photograph the Dasypus bellus osteoderms tomorrow morning and add scales to the unknowns. Glad to hear that my initial thoughts of camelid might be correct on the beat up tooth. I looked at it closer and (based purely on the relative abundance of horse over camelid) talked myself out of thinking the latter. Not a great specimen but something my brother might find interesting in his nascent fossil collection after precisely one fossil hunting trip.

 

The unknown vert is modern and, without consulting a Google image search, I assumed that the large processes would have been about right for something supporting muscles like a caudal vert. It is definitely something modern that has died and ended up floating down the river to get mixed into a bed of fine gravel. I'll have to think of what other species might possibly have such a spiky vertebra. I do love a mystery--even a minor one like this.

 

EDIT: A quick search of the usual suspects seems to leave a possibility that it might possibly match a Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). Possibly barking up the wrong tree but I'll research more tomorrow.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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digit

Here are the missing dimensions that Harry noted:

 

The little White Shark tooth is 23mm along its longest diagonal (just under 1") while the Tiger tops the scales at 31mm (~1.25"). The lower Equus molar has an occlusal surface that measures 33mm along the longest dimension with 45mm of height to the remaining root. The little camelid tooth has lost most of its original dimensions but the remaining portion is around 20mm across the widest portion of the occlusal surface.

 

2016-12-18 11-39-52.jpg     2016-12-19 12-48-56.jpg

 

2016-12-19 12-26-18.jpg

 

What I'm assuming is an edge osteoderm of a Holmesina is 37mm (on the longest but broken dimension) and 25mm wide perpendicular to that. The little (recent) vertebra that I'm now thinking might be Nine-banded Armadillo has a centrum about 10mm long. The two transverse processes are 25mm long and are about 43mm from tip to tip. The elongated egg-shaped bone is approximately 65mm along its longest axis and 30mm in girth.

 

2016-12-19 11-59-44.jpg    2016-12-19 11-05-47.jpg    2016-12-19 11-43-55.jpg

 

2016-12-19 10-42-03.jpg    2016-12-20 08-42-31.jpg    2016-12-19 15-00-18_A14.jpg

 

The little peg tooth that I assume is a small Xenarthra (armadillo) measures 12mm x 5mm on the occlusal surface and is approximately 20mm long. I finally made a photo of my new Dasypus bellus (armadillo) osteoderm--it's the darker black on the left next to the only other one I have which is a tad larger. It measures approximately 11mm x 13mm and is around 5mm thick. The small (likely modern) Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) mandible fragment is some 22mm across its longest dimension.

 

I need to flip through my books do some internet research on the elongated (egg-shaped) object above. I'm hoping it is something interesting and not just a river worn bone shaped down to a rounded cobble. If I get no comments on this object here, I'll toss it into the Fossil ID section of the forum.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

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ynot

Another nice report and pictures. The finds are not to bad either!! 

Very peaceful!!

Thanks for sharing.

Tony

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Max-fossils

Amazing finds!!! I really wish I was living in the US when I see posts like these...

Great finds, and I wonder what that vert is. By the way, I have a positive feeling of the rodent jaw being a fossil.

 

Best regards and keep posting such nice reports!

 

Max

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digit

Thanks, Max. If you ever make it over to Florida, trade one day at Disney World for a day out on the Peace River. :)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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PFOOLEY

What an interesting assortment of fossils. You should crack that egg and see if there is a small reptile in there. :)

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digit

Or better yet, sell it on "that auction site" as a rare fossil monotreme egg. :P

 

Do to the textured surface all over the "egg", I was hoping it might have been something like an osteoderm from one of the giant sloth species but (limited) research online seems not to turn up anything closely matching this little ovate mystery. Usually, bone fragments from the Peace are more irregular than this and usually have at least one smooth side from the outer surface of the bone. This is probably just a bone piece that is river worn into an unidentifiable cobble. It looks so different from any other bone bits I've pulled from the Peace that I had hopes for it being something interesting.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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digit

Received confirmation from Dr. Richard Hulbert on my second Dasypus bellus osteoderm. The thickness and diameter made that a safe bet for an ID but always great to get the confirmation. I suspected my peg tooth was too large for D. bellus and too small for a Glyptotherium. According to the Goldilocks Principle, Holmesina fills that sweet spot in the middle. I'm going to send a planar occlusal image to him for absolute confirmation but he agrees that this does appear to be Holmesina (a first for me--yay!)

 

I thought the rodent jaw might have been Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) but Dr. Hulbert has identified it as something more interesting--Neofiber alleni, the Round-tailed Muskrat. Though this is an extant species, he believes it is probably fossilized. Something else new that I can now do some research on to learn about. Not a bad day out on the river at all.

 

2016-12-19 15-00-18_A14.jpg    2016-12-19 14-53-14_A14.jpg    2016-12-19 14-09-37.jpg

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

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Miatria
On 12/21/2016 at 11:41 PM, digit said:

Received confirmation from Dr. Richard Hulbert on my second Dasypus bellus osteoderm. The thickness and diameter made that a safe bet for an ID but always great to get the confirmation. I suspected my peg tooth was too large for D. bellus and too small for a Glyptotherium. According to the Goldilocks Principle, Holmesina fills that sweet spot in the middle. I'm going to send a planar occlusal image to him for absolute confirmation but he agrees that this does appear to be Holmesina (a first for me--yay!)

 

I thought the rodent jaw might have been Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) but Dr. Hulbert has identified it as something more interesting--Neofiber alleni, the Round-tailed Muskrat. Though this is an extant species, he believes it is probably fossilized. Something else new that I can now do some research on to learn about. Not a bad day out on the river at all.

 

2016-12-19 15-00-18_A14.jpg    2016-12-19 14-53-14_A14.jpg    2016-12-19 14-09-37.jpg

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

 

What a gorgeous specimen, Ken!

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