Fossils in Florida – Hunting for Nature’s Treasures from the Past
Florida is a veritable hotbed of fossils, and the amateur prospector will be pleased to know that they don’t have to get out the pick and shovel in order to nab some truly impressive specimens for their collection as long as they pick their spot carefully.
The variety of fossils in Florida is absolutely bewildering, ranging from prized shark teeth to gorgeous coral agates. It should come as no surprise to anyone that there’s a wide range of different marine fossils to be found, but you’ll be pleased to know that the area also large mammalian specimens present in the state as well.
If you decide to take a trip on your hunt for some of the good stuff, try some of the following areas and you might just come home with a new favorite piece for your collection.
Venice Beach in Florida is considered to be one of the best places in the world to find fossilized shark teeth, there’s an absolutely huge “boneyard” of sorts just off shore here and the action of the waves consistently brings forth new specimens.
If you’re particularly bold, you can rent SCUBA gear and head right out to the source, looking and taking the first pick. If you choose to do so you’re bound to end up with an amazing specimen or two, and you might even be able to find some of the highly prized teeth of the Megalodon out there.
Don’t just keep your eyes open for the big prize, however, there are tons of smaller teeth, Dugong ribs, whale jaws, and plenty of other stuff to be found in the waters just off the beach.
If you aren’t quite that adventurous, it’s still perfectly possible to add to your collection in the area around the pier where the currents run strong and pull teeth and other fossils from the deep ocean floor and bring them right to the beach.
Tip: Look for black dots in the sand, this phosphate material is usually a good indicator that you’re looking in the right place to bring some shark teeth to light.
Peace River is another hotspot to hunt fossils in Florida just as long as the water isn’t running too high. Most of the fossils here are found while wading in the water or snorkeling under its surface, and many people will rent a canoe and go along the river for some more mundane recreation while they’re on the hunt.
The river does have its own set of dangers, like pretty much any body of water in Florida there’s always the risk of an encounter with an alligator so you’ll need to be alert while in the water.
If you think you can handle the risk, though, you’ll find that the gravel bed of the river holds an amazing amount of fossils for the dedicated prospector. The deeper holes sometimes even contain bones from large mammals like mammoth, making for an entirely different set of specimens than you’ll find in a lot of the state.
Shell Creek is another fantastic place to find fossils in Florida. Along with the shark teeth, you can expect to find in almost any body of water in Florida, you’ll also have a good chance of coming across rarer specimens.
There are plenty of interesting finds that have been made in this area, including the teeth of prehistoric horses, bone plates off of ancient alligators, and even the plates off of ancient Glypotherium which were a large armadillo-like creature.
The bewildering variety of fossils is held just beneath the surface, and even an amateur will find themselves quickly dredging up a whole bunch of different types of fossils with only a simple classifier to sift through gravel. Give it a shot and you’ll be impressed with what you can find.
Honeymoon Island State Park
Agatized coral is a pseudomorphic fossil which is actually the state stone of Florida. Unfortunately, most areas in the state have long been picked clean and while you may be able to find a piece here and there in the old hunting grounds chances are that you’re not going to be bringing a bag of it home in most places.
Fortunately, collectors have found that it’s still possible to make good finds along the shores of Honeymoon Island. This is good news if you’re looking to add some of this beautiful stone to your collection, and with a bit of know-how, you should be able to find a considerable amount of it.
Many recommend looking along the northwest beach in order to find the best spoils.
Fossils in Florida – They are just about Everywhere!
Florida is absolutely brimming with fossils, and you’ll rapidly see why if you decide to make the trip.
The fossils themselves are a unique type, not just the impressions of shells and other miscellaneous mollusks that you’ll find in many limestone beds around the country, but instead being fully formed pieces of fossilized or agatized critters.
These four locations are great places to start your hunt for fossils in Florida. Just remember that nearly the entire state was once covered by the ocean, meaning that nearly anywhere has the potential of having some marine fossils. What more could a collector want?
Next: Lousy Gold Panning Opportunities in Florida