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Vertebrate fossil localities in Florida
CITATION SEARCH THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000475/00001
 Material Information
Title: Vertebrate fossil localities in Florida
Physical Description: iii, 28 p. : illus., maps. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Olsen, Stanley John, 1919-2003
Publisher: Florida Geological Survey
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 1965
Copyright Date: 1965
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Paleontology -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Vertebrates, Fossil -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Stanley J. Olsen.
General Note: Florida Geological Survey special publication 12
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management:
The author dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law and all related or neighboring legal rights he or she had in the work, to the extent allowable by law.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ADX0902
oclc - 00020428
alephbibnum - 000777240
lccn - a 65007960
oclc - 20428
System ID: UF00000475:00001

Table of Contents
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        Page ii
    Title Page
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    Copyright
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    Main
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
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    Back Cover
        Page 29
        Page 30
Full Text














STATE OF FLORIDA
STATE BOARD OF CONSERVATION
DIVISION OF GEOLOGY


FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
S Robert O. Vernon, Director





SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12







VERTEBRATE FOSSIL LOCALITIES IN FLORIDA

By
Stanley J. Olsen


Tallahassee
1965




























107960



































CMI)(( inapt,c ript r( revived
\Ilreh 23, 1965
1r i n Ied I,% the 11' 7,11ri ( t n 01 C o it I St~rv ey t
Tall,~.~l llalllilslip T(ev ir

'1; I ~i~ii iS








CONTENTS

Introduction... ...................... .. ... ...... ... .... ..... 1
W here fossils are found .............................................................. ......... 2
Rare occurrences of older sub-surface fossils in Florida .................. 4
Eocene surface localities ............................ .................... .. ........ 6
Oligocene surface localities ............... ............. ............. 9
Miocene surface localities ............ .. ............................................. 10
Pliocene surface localities .................. ............................................ 13
Pleistocene surface localities ................ .......................................... 15
Prospecting for fossils ....................................................... 17
Collecting fragile fossil bones ................................... 19
M materials ..................... ...................................... .... .... ... 19
Uncovering the specimen ................ ............ .............. 23
Preparing block for jacketing .............. .. .......... ......... ........... 24
Jacketing the block ..... ......... .. ............. ........................... 24
R e fe re n c e s .............. ...................... ............. .................... ......... ................ 2 8


ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure

1 Age chart ........................................ .... .. ..... .... .......... .......... 3
2 Florida's oldest vertebrate fossil ............................................ 5
3 Why there are no dinosaurs in Florida .................................
4 Map of eocene vertebrate localities ......................... ............ 8
5 Map of oligocene vertebrate localities .................................... 9
6 Map of miocene vertebrate localities ................ .... ............ 10
7 Map of pliocene vertebrate localities .......................... .......... 1
8 Map of pleistocene vertebrate localities ..................................... 16
9 Mining methods in phosphate pits ................................... ........... 18
10 How vertebrate fossils are collected ................. ................ 20
11 Fossil collector's field kit ............................................. ............. 21







VERTEBRATE FOSSIL LOCALITIES IN FLORIDA


By
Stanley J. Olsen

INTRODUCTION

Florida is one of the few states that attracts tourists who
desire to spend a good portion of their vacation time collecting
fossils. This is partially due to the accessibility of a number of
fossil beds which are located on Florida's beaches and are con-
stantly being eroded and exposed by the ever present surf action.
This is particularly true in the Jacksonville Beach area and at
Naples beach on the west coast. Here the fossil hunter can com-
bine ocean bathing with fossil collecting, picking up the animal
bones and teeth that are revealed on the beaches with every rise
and fall of the tide. This can be a family sport, using mask, flip-
pers and snorkel to add pleasure to this sort of beach collecting.
For the more hearty and properly trained diver, Florida's river
bottoms offer many fine collecting spots that can be reached with
scuba gear and yet not place the diver beyond the 30-foot depth
where decompression tables must be closely adhered to.
Many dry prospecting localities are available in abandoned
limestone quarries and sump pits, or in roadcuts where outcrops
have been exposed by road grading equipment. In coastal areas
where bay bridge approaches and span supports are constructed
by dredging underwater sediments and using this material to build
up artificial islands, the drained clays and sands of the beaches of
these islands contain many fine, well preserved vertebrate fossils.
Talks with landowners, on whose properties fossil-collecting
localities occur, have established that a sure way to bring about
the closing and posting of an area to collectors is to leave gates
open, drop cigarettes in the grass, scatter lunch litter on the
ground or climb over fences having locked gates. Treat the pro-
perty rights of others as you would like to have your property
rights regarded. These foregoing statements pertain to the lands
of large commercial open-pit mining companies as well as to the
small plot of land or seacliff of the solitary citizen.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that in all instances
permission must be obtained before entering private property to
prospect, whether the area is being actively worked or has been

1

107960







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


abandoned for many years. Water-filled quarries are particularly
hazardous to lone prospectors or to parties accompanied by small
children and suitable precautions should be taken to prevent acci-
dents.
Only the most foolhardy collector will use scuba gear in such
a way to endanger his life. This last statement pertains to cave
diving or to diving in deep silt-bottomed sinkholes. The many
deaths due to this kind of diving are sufficient evidence of the
probability of accident in this sort of venture.
WHERE FOSSILS ARE FOUND
Fossils may be defined as the remains or traces of any recog-
nizable organic structure preserved since prehistoric time. In
Florida, vertebrate fossils are usually limited to bones or partial
bones and teeth of animals. Occasionally a completely articulated
skeleton is found. These fossil bones or teeth may be altered by
replacement by petrifying materials such as silica, calcium car-
bonate or iron sulphide, to name but a few. In the more recently
extinct forms, the fossils may show little or no difference in color,
weight or texture when compared with the bones of living species.
Florida's fossil-producing beds are classed as sedimentary
deposits. This is to say that these beds were formed by the action
of wind and water and were laid down as sediments, in the bottoms
of rivers, lakes and seas. The bulk of the sedimentary strata in
Florida, from which vertebrates are obtained, are present as lime-
stones and range in age from Eocene through Miocene (fig. 1).
The more recent are generally composed of sands and clays.
Most of Florida's fossil-producing deposits of Eocene and
Miocene age are of marine origin and have yielded few vertebrates.
Quarries of Miocene Age that have produced terrestrial vertebrate
remains, complete enough to be used in interpreting Florida's past
animal life, are few in number. However, scarce as they may be,
terrestrial Miocene vertebrates are better represented from Flo-
rida's strata than they are from any deposit east of the Mississippi
River. The bulk of the Miocene beds in the eastern United States,
known outside Florida, are dominantly marine and have produced
few terrestrial fossils.
The animal population in Florida must have approached its
peak during Pleistocene times if we are to judge by the countless
remains of animals of this age that are present in Florida's fossil
beds.









ERA PERIOD AGE VERTEBRATE BEGINNINGS
OF


RECENT
C PLEISTOCENE
E MILLION YEARSAGs O
PLIOCENE
N 1 MILLIONYEARSAGO A
0 MIOCENE M
Z 20 MILLION YEARS AGO M
0 OLIGOCENE A
35 MILLION YEARS GO
EOCENE
C 60 MILLION YEARS AGO
PALEOCENE
80 MILLION YEARS AGO


CRETACEOUS
120 MILLION YEARS AGO


JURASSIC
155 MILLION YEARS AGO


TRIASSIC
190 MILLION YEARS AGO


BIRDS


MAMMALS


+ 4


PERMIAN
215 MILLION YEARS AGO
PENNSYLVANIAN
250 MILLION
YEARS AGO
MISSISSIPPIAN


DEVONIAN ,,,
350 MILLION YEARS AGO
SILURIAN
390 MILLION YEARS AGO
ORDOVICIAN
480 MILLION YEARS AGO
CAMBRIAN
550 MILLION YEARS AGO


REPTILES


AMgPHIBIANISh


FISHES


I
ONLY THESE BEDS
OCCUR AS SURFACE
FORMATIONS IN
FLORIDA


DINOSAURS


NO VERTEBRATES KNOWN FROM DEPOSITS
OLDER THAN THESE


Figure 1. Age chart.


.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


Perhaps one of the questions most often asked of Florida's
paleontologists is, "where can fossils be collected in Florida?"
Although the age range of Florida's fossil deposits isn't too great
(Eocene through Pleistocene) when compared with our western
states, the bones occur under a variety of conditions, some of
which pose particular problems to the collector and prospector.
Some of these circumstances are peculiar to Florida alone.
RARE OCCURRENCES OF OLDER SUB-SURFACE FOSSILS
IN FLORIDA
Two occurrences of fossil animals from the deep sub-strata
of Florida should be mentioned, since they represent animals from
age groups not present as surface outcrops in Florida.
During the summer of 1955, the Amerada Petroleum Corpora-
tion drilled an exploratory well approximately 12 miles northwest
of Okeechobee. In a well core that was recovered from a depth of
9,210 feet were the remains of an aquatic turtle of Cretaceous
Age (fig. 2). The drill bit just happened to be in a position to
penetrate the spot in which the bones of a fossil turtle were em-
bedded. The recovered core, of gray argillaceous dolomite, was
only 4 3/8 inches in diameter, but enough of the turtle's skeleton
was recovered to establish that it was a water dwelling form.
Only the anterior or front end of the reptile was recovered. The
skull, as well as the hind portions, was outside the area of the
core.
Fossil turtles are not commonly found, even in formations
that are exposed at the surface of the ground. When you consider
the chances against placing a drill bit in a position so that it will
penetrate a small skeleton at a depth of over 9,000 feet, it is
even more remarkable that this singular specimen was ever re-
covered.
A similar chance recovery was made in Madison County,
Florida by the Hunt Oil Company in 1944. In this instance, the
drill core was brought up from a depth of 4,628 feet and contained
a Middle Ordovician trilobite (Colpocoryphe exsul). A trilobite is
a primitive crab-like arthropod. Trilobites attained their maximum
development during the Cambrian and Ordovician and became
extinct at the end of the Permian (215 million years ago). They
are a useful index fossil used in determining the age of the beds
in which they occur.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


Figure 2. Florida's oldest vertebrate fossil.

In both of the related instances, the animals came from deeply
buried formations that are much older than any surface beds from
which a fossil collector might prospect for fossils.
The oldest surface rocks in Florida are of Eocene Age (60
million years old) and represent only a small portion of the sedi-
ments which make up the sub-surface of Florida.








FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


It is not uncommon to receive large bones of Pleistocene ani-
mals (mostly those of mastodons or mammoths) that are sent to
the Florida Geological Survey with a request for additional infor-
mation on these "dinosaur bones".
Dinosaurs did not survive beyond the Upper Cretaceous (120
million years ago), and of course their remains are not found in
rocks that are younger than the Cretaceous. Since formations of the
correct age to contain dinosaur bones are only found many thou-
sands of feet below the surface of Florida, it is not likely that
any dinosaur bones will ever be recovered from this state (fig. 3).
The closest surface formations of Cretaceous Age lie beyond
the north Florida border, some 100 airline miles.
It is possible, but not probable, that a well core (as in the
case of the turtle and trilobite) could penetrate a dinosaur skeleton
if all other conditions for its preservation were met beforehand.
EOCENE SURFACE LOCALITIES
The Eocene deposits of the western United States have yield-
ed countless scientifically important specimens of early mammals.
Among these is perhaps the most well known form, Hyracotherium
("Eohippus"), the ancestral four-toed horse. Beds of this age in
Florida have produced only a few marine vertebrates. To date,
none of those better known forms collected from terrestrial Eocene
beds of Wyoming have been discovered in Florida's sediments,
and presumably Florida's Eocene deposits contain no terrestrial
vertebrates.
Remains of the whale-like Basilosaurus or Zeuglodon are
known from several widely scattered localities in north Florida.
This marine mammal attained a length of over 40 feet and had a
body that was well adapted to speed and maneuverability in wa-
ter. Although shark teeth are known from the same beds as those
that contain the teeth of Basilosaurus, the latter are distinguish-
able by a characteristic step-edged or serrate-edged margin along
the cutting edge of the tooth. The bones of this large mammal are
readily seen in the cream-white matrix as they are generally a
blue-black color and present a striking contrast to the surrounding
limerock. Some of the vertebral elements are as large as those of
the common whales that occur in the later Pleistocene deposits.
Nearly every Basilosaurus find has been the result of commer-
cial rock-quarrying operations in the open pits of Alachua, Gil-
christ, Suwannee, Taylor and Jackson counties (fig. 4). There is








































Figure 3. Why there are no dinosaurs in Florida.








8 FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY





Miles
10 5 0 20 40 6 ga 18 o
A L A B A M A App~E~Sal
SMarianna
c. F O R G I A


Gulf


Mexico


Marianna, Jackson County
Mayo,Taylor County
Branford, Suwannee County


.&b. ,


Buda, Alachua County

Figure 4. Map of eocene vertebrate localities.


no reason why this general area should not produce these fossils
in quarries that are located in limestones of the Crystal River
Formation. Collecting in rock quarries is particularly dangerous
and proper safety precautions should be exercised after permission
is obtained to enter the premises on which the pits are located.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


OLIGOCENE SURFACE LOCALITIES

As with the Eocene beds in Florida, all of the reported out-
crops of Oligocene Age in Florida are of marine origin. The known
fossil-bearing beds are of cream-colored limestone and are located
in a comparatively small area near the town of Marianna in Jackson
County (fig. 5). Only teleost or bony fish remains have been col-
lected from the Jackson County limestones. Fossil-producing out-


Mles
1050 20 40 6L Bp 1Q
Approx Scle


A L A B A M A
7 ---y _


R G I A


Frantic


Gulf


Mexico


OLIGOCENE
VERTEBRATE FOSSIL LOCALITY
Marianna,Jackson County
(Marine,Fish only)


Figure 5. Map of oligocene vertebrate localities.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


crops occur in this area mainly as low, weathered roadcuts, as
excavated and graded highway bridge approaches, or in rock quar-
ries.
MIOCENE SURFACE LOCALITIES
The richest bone bed of Miocene Age in eastern North Ameri-
ca, the Thomas Farm Fossil Quarry (fig. 6), is located in Gilchrist
County, near the town of Bell, in a most unpromising appearing


A L A B A M A


Gulf


Mexico


) Alum Bluff, Liberty County '-
) Chattahoochee,Gadsden County
( Floridin Co.,Quincy,Gadsden County *
SFullers Earth Co., Midway, Gadsden County
T Griscom(Luna)Plantation,Leon County
STallahassee Waterworks,Tallahassee, Leon County
S.A.L.R.R.,Switchyard B,Tallahassee,Leon County
) Thomas Farm QuarryGilchrist County
( Franklin Phosphate Co.,Pit No.2,Newberry,Alachua County
) Colclough Hill,Alachua County
SPhosphate Pits (In part),Polk County
Figure 6. Map of miocene vertebrate localities.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


setting of low, sandy, flat land having none of the "usual" sur-
face outcrops with which fossil vertebrates are generally asso-
ciated.
The animals from this sinkhole or stream-cavern deposit are
a mixture of terrestrial forms such as the small three-toed horse
Parahippus, the large bear-like dog Amphicyon, numerous small
carnivores, camels and many snakes, rodents and birds. Some
aquatic forms are also present such as an alligator, turtles, frogs
and siren remains. The story of the discovery of this important
locality and the people who have worked it are contained in several
publications, but particularly in the Florida Geological Survey
Special Publication Nos. 5 and 6.
The tract of land on which the fossil quarry is located is
owned by the State of Florida and written permission must be
secured from the head of the Biology Department of the University
of Florida before one can visit the property. A caretaker is in
residence.
Five rather important Miocene localities lie in or around the
Capitol City of Tallahassee (fig. 6). The Griscomb Plantation,
or Luna Plantation, as it is generally known today, is located
about 15 miles north of Tallahassee in Leon County. This planta-
tion is the site of an early Miocene vertebrate locality that was
accidently discovered in 1916 during the course of digging a shaft
for a water well or cistern. This shaft, having a diameter of six
or eight feet, was dug to a depth of 50 feet before it had to be
abandoned due to encountering poisonous gas. The workmen had
struck a bone-bearing layer just before the pit was abandoned,
which produced the types of the Miocene horse Parahippus leonen-
sis, and the dog-like carnivore Cynodesmus iamonensis. The well
was completed by the use of a mobile drill rig and the larger hand-
dug shaft was filled in around the well casing. No additional bone
fragments were collected. This bone-bearing layer does not out-
crop on the surface in the vicinity of the plantation and since the
original well site is now within the landscaped area of the planta-
tion headquarters, it is improbable that any additional material
will be obtained from this locality within the foreseeable future.
As in the case of the Griscomb Plantation, the digging of a
pump pit by the Tallahassee Water Works was responsible for
some very tantalizing fragments of the Miocene rhinoceros Aphe-
lops, and of a camel Nothokemus. These meager scraps were
collected in 1930 and here again, as with the Griscomb Plantation







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


locality, the bone-bearing layer is no longer available for further
exploration.
In 1963, a deposit of middle Miocene Age was discovered
while excavating to enlarge a switch yard of the Seaboard Airline
Railroad Company in Tallahassee.
This bone deposit represents a Miocene shoreline and the
bones are a mixture of terrestrial and marine vertebrates inter-
mingled with the shells of an ancient oyster bar. Two storks,
heretofore unknown in the Western Hemisphere, are also recorded
from this railroad-cut fossil bed.
Two Miocene localities, a short distance west of Tallahassee,
are from open-pit fullers earth mines. These are located at Quincy
and Midway in Gadsden County. The first of these localities, at
Quincy, produced Florida's first identifiable material of the Mio-
cene horse, Merychippus. From the second Gadsden County site,
Midway, were recorded scraps of the horse Parahippus, as well
as those of Merychippus, and of the camel Nothokemus. Both of
these localities are now in abandoned, water-filled pits. The sur-
rounding country is covered by vegetation so that little hope is
held for any additional fossils being obtained from the immediate
vicinity of these original locations.
The steeply sloping banks of Alum Bluff on the east bank of
the Apalachicola River in Liberty County have long been known
as a plant and invertebrate fossil locality. Recently, fragments of
Parahippus and a gavial were collected from this steep-sided river
bank.
The bluffs above the Jim Woodruff Dam near Chattahoochee in
Gadsden County have yielded a Parahippus tooth, numerous shark
and ray teeth and few oyster shells. This locality was apparently
close to a tidal zone in Miocene times.
Colclough Hill, a roadcut near the University of Florida in
Gainesville (fig. 6), has been a collecting spot responsible for
fragments of the small Miocene horse Parahippus blackbergi and
some shark and ray teeth. No articulated skeletons or complete
large mammal bones have been recovered from this Alachua County
locality.
A number of years ago in Pit No. 2 of the Franklin Phosphate
Company's mine near Newberry in Alachua County (fig. 6), a small
bone-bearing pocket was discovered. This pocket offered many
tantalizing fragments of Miocene mammals. Additional specimens







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


have been collected in other pockets in the general area of New-
berry. Solution pits in the limestone quarries of Newberry and Haile
have also acted as catch basins for Pliocene and Pleistocene
vertebrate fossils, some of which are remarkably complete. Many
of the early quarries are now grown over with vegetation or are
water-filled. However, new areas are constantly being opened
to mining operations and will bear close watching for new fossil
discoveries.
The phosphate pits of Polk County (fig. 6) have long been a
favorite collecting region for both professional and amateur fossil
hunters. The animals range in age from Eocene on through the
Miocene and Pliocene with a number of Pleistocene and sub-Recent
forms also having been recovered. It is only in recent months that
any attempt has been made by the commercial mining companies
to establish the stratigraphic position in which the remains occur.
It is now hoped that animals and their associated strata can be
studied in more detail so that data of stratigraphic importance can
be compiled and analyzed.
Sump pits tend to crust over and leave a hazardous under-
lying quicksand; therefore, it is important that the collector seek
out information on the area to be prospected from a field represen-
tative of the company owning the pit as well as permission to
enter the area.
PLIOCENE SURFACE LOCALITIES
Beds of Pliocene Age are rare indeed in Florida. Many depo-
sits that contain vertebrates of Pliocene Age also have a mixture
of Miocene and Pleistocene animals. This is particularly true of
the phosphate beds of Polk and the surrounding counties in central
Florida. However, there are several bone beds that contain fossils
of vertebrate animals that occur elsewhere in the world in strata
that has been determined to be of middle Pliocene age.
The town of Haile is in reality little more than a place name
on the Alachua County maps (fig. 7). The general Haile area is
dotted with limerock pits. It is from one of these quarries that many
small Pliocene vertebrates have been reco-ered. In Levy County,
northeast of Williston, a quarry known as Mixon's Bone Bed has
produced the remains of a proboscidean, Serridentinus, a rhino-
ceras, Teleocerus, a horse, Hipparion and a camel, Procamelus.
This quarry is on private land and has not been worked for some
ears.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


A L A B A M A


G E O R G I A


Gulf


of




Mexico










Haile,Alachua County
( Newberry,Alachua County
Williston,Levy County
) Phosphate Pits(In part) Polk County


Figure 7. Map of pliocene vertebrate localities.

A newly discovered quarry, the McGehee Farm Site, has been
reported by members of the staff of the University of Florida and
is being worked by that institution. This fossil quarry is north of
Newberry and a preliminary faunal list includes nine reptiles,
three genera of birds, and eighteen mammals. Present among the
reported mammals are the carnivore, Osteoborus, a proboscidean,
Serridentinus, rhinos, Teleoceras and Aphelops and the horses
Hipparion, Nannippus and Neohipparion. Also present are the
camels Pliachenia and Megatylopus.
This important site should prove to be more valuable scien-
tifically as additional work is carried out.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


PLEISTOCENE SURFACE LOCALITIES
It is only natural that the most recent fossil animals, those of
the Pleistocene, or Ice Age, should be the best known and most
widely distributed in the State. The stream and swamp deposits
in which their remains are preserved have not been so deeply
buried as to be inaccessible nor, like most of the older beds, so
long attacked by rivers and oceans as to have been largely eroded
away and their contents lost or redeposited.
The abundance of animals in Florida at this time was extra-
ordinary. It can only be compared with the big game region of the
Serengetti Plains of Africa in the early 1900's.
The occurrence of Pleistocene animals is state-wide (fig. 8).
Hardly a roadcut, realignment of a drainage ditch or the dredging
of a channel can be undertaken without at least some Pleistocene
animal remains being brought to light.
The many shell marl dragline pits in the St. Petersburg and
Bradenton areas are known to be good collecting areas. The drain-
ed spoil banks have been responsible for many fine specimens of
our smaller mammals and birds.
The bridge approaches and marinas are also possible areas
to be scrutinized, as are the beaches of Jacksonville and Mayport
on the east coast and Naples on the Gulf coast.
Rock fissure fills in both abandoned and active quarries in
the Haile, Arredondo and Reddick areas have been natural collect-
ing traps for many of our better known small Pleistocene animals.
At Vero Beach and Melbourne, the surface beds have produced
the only human remains in association with extinct Pleistocene
animals. It is not improbable that more human remains will turn
up as the number of collectors increases.
Most of the clear rivers of north Florida cut through sediments
of Pleistocene Age and it is not difficult to obtain a good repre-
sentative collection of Pleistocene animal bones from the bottoms
of these streams. Scuba gear used with accepted safety practices
is all that is needed.
Springs and sinkholes have been responsible for the deaths
of many large Pleistocene animals and quite a few of their bones
are now in museum collections throughout the state of Florida and
in other parts of the United States.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


A L A B A M A


( Reddick,Marion County c (
2 Melbourne, Brevard County PAA O
) Vero, Indian River County 2
SNaples,Collier County
(5 Bradenton, Manatee County
() St.Petersburg,Pinellas County ff-shore dredging HRE
() Seminole Field, Pinellas County Lnd Dragline pits
( Arredondo,Alachua County 5C P.
(9) Haile,Alachua County L G
RIVERS and SPRINGS i
Wakulla Springs, Wakulla County
( Aucilla River, Jefferson-Taylor County Line
Itchtucknee River and Springs, Columbia-Suwannee County Line
& Santa Fe River, Gilchrist-Suwannee-Columbia County Line
( Hornsby Spring, Alachua County r .
() St.Johns River(Spoil banks), Duval County
Peace Creek, De Soto County A P '-
CAVES
OMarianna Area, Jackson County
(lron Ladder, Citrus County
Saber-Tooth,Citrus County
Figure 8. Map of pleistocene vertebrate localities.

A number of divers have lost their lives in the dangerous
sport of spring and sinkhole diving. I cannot stress too strongly
that diving in springs and sinkholes is not recommended and should
be discouraged for all but highly trained and well organized ex-
ploring parties.
Limestone caves in central Florida and a few in the Panhan-
dle have also been prospected profitably in regard to cave-dwelling
vertebrates. It is from a Reddick cave that the only remains of
the Vampire Bat Desmodus have been recovered.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


As with springs and sinkholes, cave exploring is a highly special-
ized game and should not be indulged in as a part-time venture.
It is safe to say that in regard to Pleistocene animals, any
operation that disturbs the soil covering of Florida is worthy of
close attention, as some fossil will most likely be located if
enough attention is given to the matrix as it is being moved.
PROSPECTING FOR FOSSILS
Prospecting for fossil vertebrate animals in Florida is limited
because of the lack of surface exposures or outcrops that are so
familiar to bone hunters in other parts of the United States.
Natural outcrops that produce bones are nearly non-existent;
therefore, the prospector and collector must go to areas where
excavations are being conducted or have been carried on. Lime-
rock and mineral quarries (fig. 9), road cuts, and dredging opera-
tions are responsible for the majority of the recent fossil finds
of importance.
Natural river or tide action, particularly if the action is aided
by storms, occasionally brings to light fossil skeletons that are
entombed in their confining banks or cliffs.
More important than finding a tooth or single bone lying on
the eroded surface or stream bottom is to locate, if possible, the
source of the specimen from whence it came so that perhaps an
entire skeleton or skeletons might be located and collected. Once
a skeleton or skull is encountered, proper precautions must be
taken to insure that it is preserved and collected to prevent fur-
ther damage to the animal. All such finds should be reported to
the geological survey or to established museums in order that
proper precautions will be taken, and that the specimen will even-
tually become a part of an organized collection where it will be
carefully preserved and made available to research workers and
professional scientists.
If this is not possible, it is far better that the animal be
collected by a conscientious amateur than to have it lost for all
time and be of use to no one.
It is worth repeating that wandering over land being excavated
by commercial machinery, or on sediments that have recently been
dredged, is foolhearty. In no instance should prospecting and
collecting be attempted without first talking to the field super-
intendant or construction foreman and obtaining their permission.








18 FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY





Vertebrates uncovered by phosphate mining
BONE VALLEY AREA "

'W- OT


fARLY 1900s


Figure 9. Mining methods in phosphate pits.







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


There are plenty of areas that are deserted and clear of work crews
and danger so that one does not have to endanger one's life by
working close to a construction project.
COLLECTING FRAGILE FOSSIL BONES
Occasionally it is desirable to remove fragile fossil verte-
brates from the area in which they were discovered with a minimum
of delay. This may be due to the danger of being destroyed by
mining operations or to the position of the specimen in, for exam-
ple, a river bank at low water. In the event it isn't possible to
contact a museum worker or professional paleontologist, it is
better to have the recovery attempt made by a local interested
party than to have the specimen lost or damaged beyond repair.
For about 70 years, vertebrate paleontologists have been employ-
ing a technique (enclosing specimens in plaster jackets) which,
under some circumstances, should prove useful to archaeologists
as well (fig. 10). This method has been described in a few publi-
cations, but in general, it has been passed along from one acade-
mic generation to the next by demonstration and instruction, and
new modifications have been presented informally.
The following technique is generally reserved for skulls or
partially (or completely) articulated skeletons rather than the
commonly found isolated bones or teeth that are more or less
durable and will withstand handling in the field (fig. 10).

MATERIALS
There are a number of materials not normally stocked by the
amateur paleontologist, which are necessary for this method. A
complete prospector's field kit is illustrated in figure 11.
1. Burlap.. A suitable quantity and quality of this material
can usually be obtained from the local feed store in the form of
empty sacks. Depending on the geographic location they are vari-
ously known as gunny bags, tow sacks and "croaker" sacks. The
more loosely woven sacks for the coarsely ground livestock feeds
are the most satisfactory since they permit the plaster of paris
to thoroughly penetrate the weave. For cutting into strips the
sacks should be opened out. This is done either by ripping the
seam or unsewing by turning the sack wrongside out and starting
at the bottom corner. The latter method is faster and easier. After
the sack has been opened out, you have a nearly square sheet
of burlap, which is now ready to cut into strips. This can be easily
done by one person by placing one foot on one edge of the sheet,
















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SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


B


D



N


M
M


JI


C


H



K



P


A-Water Canteen I-Shellac Brush
B-Shellac Can J -Geological Hammer
C- Field Book and Gummed Labels K- Hammer for Chiseling
D- Chisels L- Whisk Broom
E- Sheaf of Rice Paper M-Digger
F- Prospecting Pick N-Duco Cement
G- Cotton Batting O-Dust Brush
H- Ball of Twine P-Awls(2 Curved,1 Straight)
Wrapping Paper (Not shown)


Figure 11. Fossil collector's field kit.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


grasping the opposite edge in one hand, pull the burlap tight,
and with a sharp knife cut along the line of tension. The strips
should be about five inches wide. For convenience in handling
they should be cut at midlength, though a few complete strips
should be saved for cross binding the block.
2. Plaster. The most satisfactory and easily obtained plaster
for this work is No. 1 Moulding Plaster. It is moderately fast set-
ting plaster but will allow ample time (20 to 30 minutes) for appli-
cation to the block even when mixed in large quantities. Dental
plaster sets too fast (and its cost is prohibitive) for use except
in small quantities, and Gauging plaster (that which is normally
used on walls) requires 24 hours to set. There is no rule of thumb
for determining the quantity of plaster needed. The estimate must
be based on experience, but it is better to mix too much than not
enough. The following procedure in mixing has proven to be quite
satisfactory in both the laboratory and field. Pour water equal to
two-thirds of the volume of plaster needed into a pan (always add
plaster to the water, never add water to the plaster), sift in plaster
all over the surface of the water as long as the water will take it
up. When a little dry plaster remains on the surface it is at the
right consistency. Never stir the plaster until you are ready to
use it. By doing so, you speed up the setting by about 10 minutes.
If a second batch of plaster is needed, always wash the pan tho-
roughly before mixing the second batch. Otherwise, when the
first batch starts to set, it acts as a catalyst and the second
batch sets immediately. (Most people have to learn this the hard
way.)
3. Gum Arabic (Gum Acacia). This usually comes in crystal
or granular form and should be mixed the evening before it is
used so that it will have plenty of time to go into solution. Nor-
mally it is mixed in the proportion of about / lb. of gum to a
gallon of water. It can be applied to damp or wet specimens.
This solution is an excellent culture medium for certain spores
and will spoil in a week or so if a disinfectant is not added.
Formaldehyde, phenol, or bichloride of mercury will prevent fer-
mentation. If the bone and matrix are dry, a thin solution of white
shellac in alcohol can also be used.
4. Pan. The most convenient vessel to use in mixing plaster
is a plastic pan, either wash basin or dish pan. Plaster tends to
stick to aluminum and galvanized iron, and vessels of these mater-
ials are difficult to clean. Also, a pan is much more satisfactory







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


than a bucket for dipping the strips of burlap.
5. Knife. Even the best of knives may soon be dulled by the
coarse fibers of the burlap bag. The type of knife which has pro-
ven quite satisfactory is a butcher knife of fairly soft material
which can be sharpened with a file. For stainless steel and the
better grades of butcher knives, a carborundum stone is required
and the edge does not last sufficiently longer to make it worth
while.
UNCOVERING THE SPECIMEN
In uncovering the specimen, it is hardly necessary to say that
one should work from the known to the unknown and that care must
be exercised not to injure the bone. Most people have a tendency
to remove too much matrix from the top of the specimen. Best
results are obtained by removing only enough matrix to determine
the limits of the specimen. Remember that nature, by means of
rains and percolating ground water, has packed this specimen in
matrix much better than you can ever hope to do. Above all, do not
remove the matrix from beneath any bone because this will furnish
an undercut, and when the protective plaster jacket is removed,
the bone will be ripped out of the block.
If the bone is very friable, as it is in most cases, it should
be treated with the gum arabic or shellac solution. Do not brush
the solution onto the bone, but dip the paint brush into the solu-
tion and let it drain onto the area to be treated. Brushing the bone
will disturb the small fragments. Use the gum arabic generously.
For good preservation, the bone should be given all of the solution
that it will absorb. If the bone is fragmented, it should be covered
with paper. Facial tissues or soft toilet tissues are quite satis-
factory. After the area to be covered has been thoroughly saturated
with gum arabic or shellac. cover with 2 or 3 thicknesses of paper
and pat the paper down onto the bone, using the ends of the bris-
tles. Do not brush the paper.
After the limits of the specimen have been determined, dig a
shallow trench 3 or 4 inches deep around it at least 6 inches away
from the specimen. Then saturate the bone and the matrix between
the bones with the gum arabic or shellac solution. Except under
extremely dry conditions, the block should be allowed to dry for
24 hours. If rain threatens, it should be covered with newspapers
and a tarpaulin.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


PREPARING BLOCK FOR JACKETING

After the block has become dry and firm, dig a trench around
the specimen, keeping the inner wall about 6 inches from the
specimen. The trench should be wide enough to stand in comfort-
ably while working on the specimen. A "T" handled hay or steve-
dore's hook is excellent for this task. The depth of the trench
will vary somewhat with the thickness of the specimen and the
nature of the matrix, but a convenient rule of thumb is to make
the depth of the trench equal to at least half the width of the
block. The block must be thick enough so that it will not break
in turning.
Next, with a trowel or other hand tool, the block should be
trimmed to within 2 or 3 inches of the specimen. This margin
protects the portions of the specimen near the edge of the block,
both in turning the block and in transporting the specimen back
to the laboratory. The sides of the block should be sloped in
towards the center from top to bottom--otherwise, the block is
apt to fall out of the jacket in turning. BE SURE TO UNDERCUT.
The amount the block should be undercut depends on the size
and thickness of the block. Usually 4 or 5 inches is sufficient.
This last step is the key to whether or not the block can be safely
held in the jacket while it is turned over.
After the block has been trimmed and undercut, all exposed
bone should be covered with 2 or 3 layers of the tissue paper in
order to prevent the plaster from sticking to the bone. The proce-
dure in papering, which is quite rapid and is least inconvenienced
by normal winds, is to fold a short strip of toilet paper so that
there are two or three thicknesses. Dip one side in water and
apply the wet side to the bone. Pat into place with a dry brush
using only the ends of the bristles. This molds the paper to the
irregularities of the surface.
The surface of the block should be checked for any places
where the bone may have been undercut. If any are found, wad
up some wet toilet or cleansing tissue and fill the undercuts.
A mud mixture can also be used. Now the block is ready for jacket-
ing.
JACKETING THE BLOCK
Presumably when the field worker has reached this stage he
has equipped himself with moulding plaster, water, pan, burlap







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12


strips and paper. A procedure in dipping the strips in plaster which
is rapid and efficient, and requires a minimum of energy, is to
take the end of a burlap strip in one hand and dip that end in the
plaster. With the other hand hold the strip under the surface of
the plaster while the strip is being drawn through the mixture.
Remove the excess plaster from the burlap strip with the thumb and
forefinger. If too much plaster is left on the strips, it makes the
jacket too difficult to remove in the laboratory. Many paleontolo-
gical specimens have been irreparably damaged in removing an
overly thick jacket in the laboratory due to this type of thought-
lessness on the part of the collector. It is for this reason that in
a number of universities, the paleontologist in charge requires his
graduate students to prepare the material they collect. Their
memories seem to improve amazingly after they have become the
victims of their own thoughtlessness. Never fold or wad the strips
because this slows up the work. Apply the strip vertically to the
side of the block so that it overlaps onto the top. Do not draw
the strip tight but allow enough slack so that it will mold to the
contours of the block. Mold the strip to the irregularities and
depressions of the surface of the block with the ends of the fin-
gers--not with the palm of the hand. Overlap the next strip for
about half of its width onto this one and so on all the way around
the block. Seal any gaps which occur on the top side of the block.
Bind the long strips around the bottom of the vertical strips on
the sides of the block, overlapping the ends of the long strips
by 6 or 7 inches. If the block is large (5 feet square) apply a
second coat to the top at right angles to the first.
Allow the plaster plenty of time to set before disturbing the
block. It will take at least an hour on a sunny day. Usually the
small amount of stock feed mixed with the fibers of the sacks
retards the setting o f the plaster somewhat. Most paleontologists
use the thumbnail test to determine if the plaster has set suffi-
ciently to turn the block. If the thumbnail barely makes an im-
pression the block is ready to turn. The plaster gets noticeably
warm on setting.
This procedure works quite well for one, two or three people.
A crew of three individuals who are used to working together is
ideal because one can dip the strips as fast as two can apply
them.
If the block is large and reinforcing is needed, bind small
poles (2 inches in diameter), boards or metal pipes to the top of
the block with strips of burlap dipped in plaster, much as a doctor
splints a broken limb.







FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


After the plaster is thoroughly set, the block is ready to
turn over. Small blocks can be broken loose with the blow of a
pick at the base of the supporting column at the bottom of the
trench. With large blocks, it is often necessary to drive two or
more stakes or bars horizontally under the block to loosen it.
Trenches must be widened to accompany these bars. These are
also handy levers in turning the block. Although different matrices
have different weights, most of them are a little under or a little
over 3,000 pounds per cubic yard. This will furnish a convenient
figure for estimating the manpower necessary to roll the block
over. Smaller blocks can be turned with a shovel.
After the block has been turned the excess matrix should be
removed, both for convenience in handling and for safety of the
specimen in transportation. When bone has been encountered in
one or two places it is better to stop. Remember, nature has
already packed the specimen much better than you can hope to
do. The removal of the excess matrix will leave much of the side
walls on the jacket. The excess jacketing must be cut off and
discarded. Do not fold down onto the block because it will not
make good contact and the specimen may shift inside the jacket.
It is not necessary to have the sides and bottom smooth. In
fact, irregularities are highly desirable because they will prevent
the specimen from shifting inside the jacket and becoming da-
maged.
Cover any exposed bone with toilet or cleansing tissue in
the same manner in which the top side was covered. Now the block
is ready to be sealed with plaster and burlap. Overlap the strips
onto the top jacket 3 or 4 inches. If the block has dried over-
night, as often happens, the old plaster must be thoroughly satu-
rated with water in order to secure a good bond between the ol
and new plaster. When the bottom seal sets, the specimen wil
be encased in a hard shell which, if properly applied, fits the
specimen tightly and the whole unit can stand rather severe jolt-
ing.
Make certain that the contents of the block are labeled on
the set plaster jacket with an identifying field number that has
been recorded in the field notes which describe the fossil find.
The block can now be crated (if it is to be sent a consider-
able distance) and forwarded tob a'laboratory or museum for further
work. The plaster bandages can be-readily removed from one side
by cutting with a saw or industrial tin shears when it is decided
that the fossil is to be prepared -for study or display. A rather
expensive, but ideal tool for this purpose is the cutter employed







SPECIAL PUBLICATION NO. 12 27

by most hospitals for removing plaster casts from injured limbs.
Small cartons of pre-packaged dry plaster bandages can also
be obtained from hospital supply houses. These bandages are
impregnated with the correct amount of dry plaster so that one
need only add water and apply. They are ideal for small speci-
mens.







SFLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY


REFERENCES

Camp, C.L.
1937 (and Hanna, G.D.) Methods in paleontology: Univ. of Califor-
nia Press, Berkeley, 153 p.

Cornwall, I.W.
1956 Bones for the archaeologist: Macmillan Co., New York.

Grossman, J.D. (See Sisson, S.)

Hanna, G.D. (See Camp, C.L.)

Olsen, S.J.
1959 Fossil mammals of Florida: Florida Geol. Survey, Spec. Pub.
no. 6. 75 p.
1961 A list, bibliography and index to facilitate the identification
of vertebrate remains from archaeological sites: Texas Archae.
Society, Bull., vol. 30, (for 1959), p. 219-222.
1964 Mammal remains from archaeological sites, part I, southeastern
and southwestern United States: Papers of the Peabody Museum
of Archaeology and Ethology, Harvard Univ., Vol. LVI, no. 1.
162 p.

Purl, H.S.
1964 (and Vernon, R.O.) Summary of the geology of Florida and a
guidebook to the classic exposures: Florida Geol. Survey
Spec. Pub. no. 5. 312 p.

Ray, C.
1957 A list, bibliography, and index of the fossil vertebrates of
Florida: Florida Geol. Survey, Spec. Pub. no. 3. 175 p.

Romer, A.S.
1955 Vertebrate paleontology: Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.
687 p.

Sisson, S.
1953 (and Grossman, J.D.) The anatomy of the domestic animals:
W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia. 4th edition. 972 p.

Vernon, R.O. (See PuHi, H.S.)





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