Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Montbrook Site, Florida - Day 1 Getting Sandy

The Florida Museum of Natural History FLMNH is digging Miocene strata at the Montbrook Site, in northwestern Florida.  I saw an article in The Fossil Project newsletter and decided to see if I could join the team of volunteers for a few days.  My application was approved, so I'm in for four days of digging 5 million year old dirt.

Montbrook Site March 22, 2017

This quarry was first opened to mine road bed material.  The landowner's granddaughter found bones in it while looking for arrow heads.  Eventually the FLMNH was contacted and began excavating in the fall of 2015.  They have found LOTS of animals, including such otter, gomphothere, fish, birds, turtles, a saber-toothed cat that takes the age of this taxon from 1 million years back to 5 million years ago!

In day one, I was assigned a 1-meter square to work, that had part of a gomphothere vertebra showing.  A little into the day, I found a gar tooth; a little later I found fish bones, including a fin spine.

5 million year old gar tooth

At the end of the day, a man driving a big excavator came around and asked if we needed anything lifted out of the quarry.  There were only a few of us left and we all worked together to get a net under the large jacket, then hooked the net over the teeth of the bucket of the excavator.   The operator of the excavator was good!  He lifted the jacket out and hauled it to the top of the space so that later retrieval will be much easier.

That pretty much ended the first day.  The last task was to try to get as much sand off of my person so that the rental car didn't look like I'd spent the day at the beach.

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