Day One: Wednesday, January 24th

Alligator tooth. Florida Museum photo by Joshua Ringer.
Alligator tooth. Florida Museum photo by Joshua Ringer.

Upon arriving to Montbrook, we were accompanied by a group of volunteers from Minnesota. They were a rather large class, yet I was lucky enough to get quite a few fossils from different taxon. At first, I seemed to be digging for quite some time before any evidence of fossils appeared. However, on the first find was a beautiful alligator tooth. It wasn’t very large, but it was in great shape and had a beautiful color.

Day Two: Wednesday, January 31st

Today’s dig was a bit different than last time. It had rained this past Monday, so conditions were slippery to say the least. There were areas throughout the site that were completely filled with water. The section I was in was about a meter or so above my previous site last week, so I spent most of my time digging away and carrying numerous buckets of sand to our dump pile.


Megalodon tooth
Megalodon tooth

Halfway through the day, we all assisted in trying to empty out a large puddle that covered the gomphothere jaw that was uncovered last week. With all the rain, some fossils moved around a bit and Jeanette found a nice peripheral scute from a turtle. Later on in the day, I did uncover a section of an alligator vertebra as well as a fish vertebra.

Jason was digging out by the “turtle death zone” and came across this beautiful Megalodon tooth. The preservation of this tooth was amazing as you can tell by the wonderful serrations around the edges. It felt great being able to hold a fossil of the largest shark that ever lived. A tooth that hasn’t seen light in millions of years!

Day Three: Wednesday, February 8th

Fossil hunting isn’t always filled with incredible finds despite being in an area so rich with bones. Since things have been pretty wet at the site, we’ve began working at a higher area where there wasn’t much of anything but sand. Before reaching any fossils, a large amount of this sandy soil needed to be hauled off. Though my day was primarily filled with carrying buckets to the dump pile, others were lucky to find some pretty great things!

One of the volunteers were lucky enough to find what seems to be parts of a gomphothere’s foot. There weren’t any other associated bones surrounding these, so it was pretty a pretty nice find!
One of the volunteers were lucky enough to find what seems to be parts of a gomphothere’s foot. There weren’t any other associated bones surrounding these, so it was pretty a pretty nice find!

During the end of the dig last week, Jason uncovered part of an alligator’s skull in the same area as the megalodon tooth. He wasn’t sure how much was present but began digging away during this week’s dig. He made a lot of progress and as you can see the head looks perfectly molded with some vertebrae trailing behind.

As you look a bit closer, you can see some of the vertebrate processes sticking out just behind where the back of the skull would be. Also visible is part of the quadrate and lower jaw which is quite unusual and possibly indicating a complete skull and possible skeleton.

Jason began making a jacket for the alligator which would then be further processed back at the lab. Once the jacket dries, it will be dug out carefully and taken to the museum. The rest of the skeleton will be worked on in sections with the hope that it is completely intact. With the patience and careful eye of museum staff and volunteers, this specimen will make a fantastic addition to the collections.

Final Day! Wednesday, February 21st 

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Little did I know, this square was hiding a nice Trachemys shell and 2 alligator skulls!

This is the first alligator I uncovered. The first sight of bone was of the occipital condyle. As I continued digging around the specimen I started uncovering teeth which was extremely exciting. The preservation wasn’t ideal as it was in a bunch of pieces but somewhat intact.

As I began digging into the next square in order to build a small perimeter for the first alligator, I hit some bone which at first seemed to be thick sandstone. Jason was able to confirm that it was another alligator and possibly a much larger one. I couldn’t believe that another apparently intact skull, was just beside the first. I was thrilled and disappointed. The day was filled with great finds and flew by but I was unable to see both skulls get jacketed. This was definitely my favorite dig!