Lets dig up some Florida Fossils!!

Sponsored by the Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology and
Natural History Museum at Gray

Students & staff travel to Florida to dig at “Gray-like” fossil site

March 3rd-7th

Led by Dr. Steven Wallace, a small group of students and staff from ETSU traveled to Florida over Spring Break to assist the Florida Museum of Natural History (FMNH) with a small excavation currently underway near Gainesville. Under the direction of Dr. Richard Hulbert (the Collections Manager of the FMNH), Wallace and the group spent a day in the museum helping prepare fossils from the new site and touring exhibits, as well as three days in the field digging. The new site is just one of a series of excavations within an active limestone quarry. Although this site is very similar to Gray in that it is a former sinkhole containing sloth and many tapirs, it is of a different age and therefore also contains many different types of animals. In particular, while the sloth at Gray is small (likely only 5 feet tall), students excavated remains (from the Florida site) of a sloth that could reach heights of 15-18 feet! In addition, the site contains a sloth more similar in size to ours, large tapirs, giant armadillos, many types of turtles, and much more.  

The primary goal of the trip was for Dr. Wallace to continue collaborative research with Dr. Hulbert. However, because the quarry has only given the FMNH a limited amount of time to access the new fossil site, the help (even if only for a few days) was much appreciated. Therefore, this trip was truly a “win-win”, with students gaining experience and providing much needed labor, while having fun and enjoying the Florida sun!

 

(Left) - Example of the giant ground sloth (Eremotherium eomigrans - mounted at the FMNH) that the students encountered while excavating at the new site.


 

Students (left to right = Wendi Shaver, Taylor Burnham, Brian Compton, Keila Bredehoeft and Shawn Haugrud) at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

 

 

 

Wendi Shaver, Keila Bredehoeft, and Brian Compton working in the collections of the FMNH. Wendi was looking at sloth material as part of her Master’s thesis, while Keila and Brian prepared recently collected material.

 

 

Example of the type of tapir (Tapirus sp. - mounted at the FMNH) that the students encountered while excavating at the new site.

 

 

Example of the giant armadillo-like creature (Holmesina floridanus - mounted at the FMNH) that the students encountered while excavating at the new site.

 

 

One of several active excavation pits at the site. From left to right, Dr. Richard Hulbert, Keila Bredehoeft, Brian Compton, and a Florida volunteer. The jacket in the middle of the pit contained a nearly complete skeleton of Holmesina floridanus.

 

Several Florida volunteers with Wendi Shaver and Shawn Haugrud (both looking at the camera). The large bone at their feet is a femur (upper leg bone) from the giant ground sloth (Eremotherium eomigrans).

 

 

Wendi Shaver (far left), Taylor Burnham and Shawn Haugrud (two farthest from camera) are visible along with two Florida volunteers.

 

 

Brian Compton removing the front feet of Holmesina floridanus.

 
 
 
 

Overall view of the site showing one of the pits.

 

 

Taylor Burnham holding a claw and phalanx (finger bone) of the giant ground sloth (Eremotherium eomigrans). Over the three days in the field, Taylor and Shawn excavated most of a front hand.

 
 
 
 

Brian Compton (left) and Dr. Hulbert (right) work around the humerus (upper arm bone) of a large Gomphothere (related to the shovel-tuskers at Gray). Note the tusk in front of Dr. Hulbert. In this specific picture, Brian was removing front feet of Holmesina floridanus.

 

 

Dr. Wallace next to the humerus. Note the size in comparison to his leg.

 
 
 
 

From left to right, Keila Bredehoeft, Dr. Steve Wallace, Brian Compton, and Dr. Richard Hulbert working around the tusk and humerus.

 
 
 
 

From left to right, Dr. Richard Hulbert,  Keila Bredehoeft, Dr. Steve Wallace, and Brian Compton working around the tusk and humerus.

 
 
 


 

Return to:

Dr. Steven Wallace

Gray Web Site

Department of Geosciences

ETSU Home

 

 

 

(Left) - General shot of the quarry as seen from the fossil site.

This page last updated March 23, 2007 scw