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 585,000 are catalogued and on a searchable computer database. Holotypes number about 250 specimens.

Digging for fossilsThe 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.

Alachua County bans fossil collecting in Gainesville creeks

On August 12, 2019 Alachua County issued a press release stating that digging for fossils is prohibited in creeks within the boundaries of the county, which includes the well known fossil-rich Gainesville Creeks. The press release can be found here

Residents of Alachua County are welcome to contact their county commissioner to voice support or opposition to this ruling.


Up-Coming Events

  • Starting July 1, 2018 an exhibit on the Montbrook fossil is on public display at the Florida Museum in Gainesville.

Research News From Our Collections

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.

Montbrook Site Blog

For the latest news about the Montbrook fossil site, about both the field and the museum collection, check out the Montbrook Blog.