Vertebrate Fossil Collections
The Florida Museum maintains five separate fossil vertebrate collections. Their specimens derive mainly from the Cenozoic Era (last 65 million years), with more than 80% coming from about 1200 localities in Florida. Other major contributing regions are islands in the Caribbean Basin, Central and South America, and intermontaine basins of Wyoming and Montana. Combined, the collections total about 850,000 specimens, of which more than 560,000 are catalogued and on a searchable computer database. Holotypes number about 245 specimens.
The primary and largest of our collections consists of specimens recovered by Florida Museum of Natural History staff, graduate students, and volunteers and those donated to the museum. This collection is referred to as the UF collection. The other vertebrate fossil collections are the former collection of the Florida Geological Survey, portions of the Timberlane Research Organization collection, and the UF Department of Zoology Fossil Bird Collection (assembled by the late Professor Pierce Brodkorb). Each of these collections is maintained in a separate catalog, under the acronyms UF/FGS, UF/TRO, and UF/PB, respectively. The fifth collection (UF/IGM) is maintained for specimens collected in Colombia by joint expeditions of personnel from the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Geologico-Mineras (Bogota, Colombia), and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Following their preparation, casting, study, and publication, the original fossils will be housed in Bogota and casts will be stored in Gainesville.
The Florida Museum's collections provide the most complete basis available for study of Cenozoic vertebrate life and evolution in the eastern United States and the circum-Caribbean Basin area.
- October 5-December 18, 2017. Volunteer fossil dig near Williston, Florida. Now accepting applications from those 15 years old and up. More information here.
- October 11, 2017. This is National Fossil Day! But the Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate this event on November 4. More information here.
Research News From Our Collections
- WUFT news article on the Montbrook fossil dig near Williston. Another story on the Williston dig, from the Gainesville Sun.
- 21-million-year-old fossil is North America’s first monkey. More stories on this topic can be found here and here.
- Protecting a sunken ancient world: How the formation of a new national park in the Bahamas was driven by science
- What lies within: New micro-CT scanner allows inside view of even the tiniest fossils.
- ScienceDaily article featuring Jason Bourque: Climate-change clues from turtles of tropical Wyoming.
- Fossils link Caribbean bat extinction to humans, not climate change.
- Megalodon Became Extinct 2.6 Million Years Ago
- Fossils prove earliest primate ancestors lived in trees.
- Scientists find ancient fossils in Panama.
- New article on finding fossils in Panama.
- Fossil hunting in coal mines.
- Tiny Primate Sported Earliest Fingernails.
Encyclopedia of Fossil Vertebrates of Florida
New additions to the species accounts are the rhino Teleoceras proterum, the vampire bat Desmodus stocki, and the muskrat Neofiber alleni. New additions to the descriptions of fossil sites are Gunn Farm Mine, Ichetucknee River, and the Montbrook Site. Let us know if there are any special species or fossil sites you want us to add.
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