This spring we excavated at Montbrook from March 1 to 28. One hundred fifteen volunteers worked a total of 1,415 person-hours. Students and instructors from Northwest Florida State College and the College of Central Florida plus high school students in the Gainesville Youth Fossil Club contributed 429 total person-hours at the site. Florida Museum staff and UF paleontology students worked at Montbrook for an additional 558 hours.

Our top volunteers, who each worked 35 or more hours were: Bill Buhi, Larry Jensen, Sharon Lord, Mary Lynch, Donna McCullough, Garrett and Steven Munger, Judy Peterson, Carol and Bill Sewell, Dean Warner, and Michele Wilbanks. Judy Peterson gets to claim top honors for most hours worked (79.25), accumulated over 15 different days. This means she volunteered for over half of all possible days this session! Thank you all so much for your dedication and to the Hodge family for allowing us continued access to the site.

Some highlights from this season:

Early in the dig volunteer Rebecca Cook found a concentration of thin bone fragments that proved to be the braincase of a gomphothere skull. It took two weeks to dig around what eventually proved to be a relatively complete, adult skull with slightly worn third molars and at least one tusk. The large plaster jacket containing the skull was ably carried out of the site by the sand mine’s excavator skillfully driven by Tim Wilkerson.

Museum preparator Jason Bourque took time out from collecting turtle specimens to recover about 20 beautifully preserved bones from the left front foot of a leopard-sized cat, as well as few bones from the right front foot and one from the right hind foot. Just based on size, these most likely belong to the primitive sabertoothed cat Rhizosmilodon, but detailed study is needed for a definitive identification.

Judy Peterson discovered a complete, right upper third molar of the pronghorn Hexameryx simpsoni. This is only the third tooth of this species found at Montbrook. As one of the other two is also a right upper third molar (found in 2017), that means we know that at least two individuals of this species are present at the site.

Three complete bird bones were recovered this session. Two are from grebes, an ulna (found by Cindy Lockner) and a femur (found by David Cox); while the third is a tarsometatarsus from a cormorant (Mary Lynch).

  • A total of 51 plaster jackets were made and successfully collected this season. They include one alligator skull and four lower jaws and numerous turtle shells including three from tiny musk turtles and a complete alligator snapping turtle shell with articulated limbs bones, neck and tail vertebrae, and skull.

    2019-03-15 Jason Bourque with an alligator snapping turtle plaster jacket. Florida Museum photo by Debbie Poulalion.
    2019-03-15 Jason Bourque with an alligator snapping turtle plaster jacket. Florida Museum photo by Debbie Poulalion.