Museum offers free opportunity for volunteer fossil diggers through Nov. 20

October 27th, 2011

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Don’t miss your chance to uncover ancient fossils and possibly discover a new species at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s volunteer fossil dig Nov. 11-20 at the Thomas Farm site in Gilchrist County.

Volunteers have the opportunity to work alongside Florida Museum researchers and students to recover ancient vertebrate fossils, both big and small. The specimens become part of the museum collections, and past finds include prehistoric alligators, bear dogs, birds, rhinos and tortoises.

Digging hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers are expected to work a minimum of three hours per day and may register for multiple days. In addition to digging, volunteers are also expected to spend some time washing fossil-bearing sediment through screens to recover bones and teeth of small animals.

“This is an opportunity most people never get to experience,” said Bob Tarnuzzer, who has participated in seven museum digs at three different sites. “Each day at the dig brings its own memories, new finds and experiences. It is a moving, educational experience to unearth fossils of extinct animals that lived more than 10 million years ago.”

Volunteers must be at least 15 years old as of Oct. 21 to participate. For more information, visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/fall_2011.htm or email Richard Hulbert, rhulbert@flmnh.ufl.edu.

Registration forms are available online, www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/fall_2011.htm, and should be mailed to Richard Hulbert, PO Box 110575 Gainesville, FL 32611-0575 or faxed to 352-846-0287.

“This is the 11th consecutive year we have had a free, public volunteer fossil dig,” said Hulbert, Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology collections manager. “The public gets to see and participate in scientific discoveries in their rawest and purest form in the field.”

Volunteer David Pharr, who has participated in four digs, two at Thomas Farm, said he enjoys the experience.

“The work at Thomas Farm has given me the opportunity to work alongside others who are experts in paleontology or perhaps have other interests and passions bringing them there. In either case, they have all been a joy to work with.”

Thomas Farm is an 18-million-year-old, internationally recognized fossil-rich site. The site formed as a large sinkhole where bones of dead animals from the surrounding terrain were washed during storms.

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Source: Richard Hulbert, 352-273-1930, rhulbert@flmnh.ufl.edu
Writer: Alyssa Wang
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu