Williston 3A (=Williston IIIA)

University of Florida Vertebrate Fossil Locality LV022


Williston 3A is located in a now abandoned and flooded limestone quarry in the northern part of the town of Williston, east and north of US Highway 27 and south of State Highway 121, Levy County, Florida. 29.40º N; 82.44º W.


Basis of Age

The co-occurrence of the extinct rodents Sigmodon baker and Microtus hibbardi indicate an early Rancholabrean age in the chronologic sequence of Florida’s Pleistocene faunas (Morgan and Hulbert, 1995).


According to Holman (1959b), the site was a funnel-shaped, cylindrical solution feature (a “pipe”) in Eocene Limestone, about 15 feet in diameter and filled with “… yellow-brown clays, bluish sandy clays, and some stratified layers of sand… Most of the bones occurred in the yellow-brown clays.”

Depositional Environment

Sinkhole in a Florida pine flatwood habitat with small ponds (Holman, 1959a).


Almost 900 fossils from Williston 3A are present in the Florida Museum of Natural History, cataloged in the UF/PB (birds) and UF/FGS (all other vertebrates) collections. All are isolated finds; no associated or articulated skeletons. The fauna is dominated by small-sized species, with a definite taphonomic bias against larger taxa such as ground sloths, bison, and proboscideans, which are all absent. The fauna was initially described in two papers published by Holman (1959a, 1959b), one on the amphibians and reptiles, and the second on the birds and mammals. Particular members of the fauna have subsequently been described or used in studies by Ray et al. (1963), Martin (1979, 1995), and Wilkins (1984).

Excavation History and Methods

The Williston 3A site was discovered in 1956 by Pierce Brodkorb and Robert Bader and 8 feet of sediment was excavated between May and September of that year. The site was destroyed by mining operations before the remainder of the deposit could be dug (Holman, 1959b).


Williston 3A is in many ways a typical Rancholabrean fauna from a small sinkhole feature in north-central Florida discovered in the course of limestone mining. But it is actually one of the few confirmed early Rancholabrean faunas in Florida, so that it is older than most such sites from this area. It has two species of extinct small rodents, Sigmodon bakeri and Microtus hibbardi, that were replaced later in the Pleistocene by the extant species Sigmodon hispidus and Microtus pinetorum, respectively (Martin, 1979; 1995). A new genus and species of jay, Henocitta brodkorbi, was described from Williston 3A on the basis of a single, partial humerus (Holman, 1959b). Williston 3A is one of just few fossil sites in Florida to produce specimens of the hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus leuconotus. Today this large skunk lives in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. Another unusual find at Williston 3B were six vertebrae belonging to the legless, blind Florida worm lizard Rhineura floridana. This burrower is only known from Florida.

In the original papers by Holman (1959a, 1959b), the site was simply called Williston. Following the transfer of the UF/FGS collection to the Florida State Museum, the site was renamed Williston IIIA to distinguish it from other sites in the Williston area in the UF collection. Webb (1974), Martin, (1978), and Wilkins (1984) used this name for the site.  Martin (1995) incorrectly called it Williston IIA. The convention of naming fossil sites with a Roman numeral plus letter combination by the Division of Vertebreate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History ended in 1986. At that point, they switched to using Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number CSBR 1203222, Jonathan Bloch, Principal Investigator. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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