Avocational paleontologist Mark Renz stumbles onto an ancient graveyard of mammoths, mastodons, sloths, horses, llamas, deer, peccaries, saber-toothed cats, jaguars, bears, wolves, snakes and alligators. Was it a major storm, flood, drought of plague that killed so many creatures at once? What signs do scientists look for to determine cause and time of death? What are the ethical considerations for amateurs who come across such a site? Do you keep the bones for yourself, sell them on e-bay, or donate them to a museum of the greater public good? Close to 800 field photos offer readers a rare glimpse at the final moments in the lives of these animals.
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In the spring of 2001, I spent many weeks working with Dr. Mason Meers, then at Florida Gulf Coast University, and volunteers from the Lee County fossil club at a fossil site located about 15 miles southeast of LaBelle, Florida. One evening, I drove a few miles west of LaBelle to meet Mark Renz at a prearranged spot alongside State Highway 80. There Mark introduced me to the fossil locality featured in this book. It was then a water-filled retention pond fenced in by the state’s Department of Transportation nestled among citrus groves. Not the most impressive looking spot to find fossils. But my two decades of fossil prospecting and collecting in Florida has taught me that first impressions can be deceiving. Mark opened up a three-ring binder full of photographs he had taken the previous year and told me pretty much the same account as is told in Chapter 2 of this book. It was soon clear that this pond had paleo potential, if the bureaucratic hurdles could be cleared. But between the Tri-Britton site I was working at the time with the Lee County folks and a brand new locality just discovered that spring near Newberry in northern Florida brimming with Miocene rhinos and horses, my plate was pretty full. Mark proposed that he would spearhead the excavation of the fossils and organize the volunteer effort to provide the necessary manpower, while the Florida Museum of Natural History would provide technical assistance and a permanent home for the site’s fossils. We also agreed that some of the specimens would eventually be returned to LaBelle and placed on display for its citizens. My boss at the time, curator Dr. David Webb, and I agreed that from the museum’s viewpoint this was a win-win plan. If Mark was right and the pond still held a trove of fossils, we would get an important collection with minimal expense at a time when our budget from the state was very limited and we were committed to working at other sites. If Mark was wrong, we would not have spent much of our limited time or funds on a "dry hole." Skip ahead four year to 2005, and what Mark envisioned has come to pass. The La Belle Highway Pit (this is the name the museum uses for Mark’s site to distinguish it from other fossil-producing localities in the La Belle area) produced about two thousand identifiable fossil bones and teeth that are now permanently housed in the research collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History.To see our entire holdings from the La Belle Highway Pit site, click on the link to search the UF VP collection, enter HN012 in the field called Site Key, and click on the Query Database button. Mark’s words and pictures will tell you how these specimens were found and what they look like. Already the American mastodon and tortoises from this site have been the subject of research by paleontologists, and the remainder of the fauna will soon be studied in detail. All of the dedication and hard work by Mark and his crew, so richly displayed in these pages, has paid off bountifully in fossils from an interval of geologic time that was previously poorly known in Florida. Thanks to them, we now much more than we did before about the animals that lived in Southwest Florida approximately 500,000 years ago. Dr. Richard C. Hulbert Jr., Vertebrate Paleontology Collections Manager, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FloridaAbout the Author:
Mark Renz is the author of "MEGALODON: Hunting the Hunter", "Fossiling In Florida" and "Doug's Ark: Thinking Outside The Pile". He also operates Fossilexpeditions.com, a SW Florida guide service.
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Descrizione libro PaleoPress, 2005. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110971947724
Descrizione libro PaleoPress, 2005. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0971947724