Fla. Museum seeks volunteer fossil diggers

September 23rd, 2005

Photos avaliable

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is recruiting volunteers for a major fossil excavation that will be conducted October through December in western Alachua County. The site, approximately two miles northeast of Newberry, was discovered last spring in a limestone quarry.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to uncover 2-million-year-old fossilized bones and teeth of freshwater and land mammals. The common mammals discovered at the site include small ground sloths, large, armadillo-like animals and tapirs, hoofed, plant-eating mammals distantly related to horses and rhinoceroses.

The site is one of the few known in Florida to routinely produce partial to nearly complete skeletons of ancient mammals, in several cases the best examples of their species ever found in the world.

Approximately 10 to 15 volunteers are needed each day, Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 11 through Dec. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Weekend shifts also are available. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, maintain a moderate level of physical fitness and be able to work outdoors for extended periods of time. Volunteers may work for a single day, a block of days or a regular weekly schedule and can choose to work morning, afternoon or full-day shifts. Experience is not necessary. All volunteers will receive training and will work with museum staff and University of Florida graduate students. Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own transportation to the fossil site.

Donations in any amount are being accepted to help defray the excavation costs. Organizations and individuals who sponsor the dig by donating $500 or more will be guaranteed spots for five volunteers for two days or 10 volunteers for one day.

For more information see www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/2005_dig.htm or contact Richard Hulbert, rhulbert@flmnh.ufl.edu.

Media Contact: Paul Ramey,  (352) 846-2000,  pramey@ufl.edu
Writer: Emily Banks