GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontology division will begin its annual free volunteer fossil dig Saturday, Oct. 24. The project will continue through Tuesday, Nov. 24, with work occurring from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
No previous experience is required. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old, in good physical condition and be able to work a minimum of three hours a day. Visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/fall_2009.htm for more information and an application form.
This year’s dig will take place at the Thomas Farm fossil site in northern Gilchrist County near the town of Bell. The site contains a rich diversity of ancient life that lived in the Southeast about 18 million years ago. Volunteers will likely discover fossil teeth and bones of small three-toed horses, a large horn-less rhinoceros, the giant bear-dog, and Alligator olseni, the ancestor of the modern alligator.
“We have been offering these free volunteer-based fossil digs to the public since 2000,” said Florida Museum vertebrate paleontologist Richard Hulbert, who is coordinating this year’s dig. “They are part of our mandate from the state legislature to provide a program of vertebrate paleontology for the citizens of Florida, and we believe there is no better way than to allow them to find and collect fossils alongside museum scientists. The first eight years of these fossil digs added thousands of scientifically valuable fossils to the museum’s collection where they are studied by University of Florida graduate students and other paleontologists.”
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