Fla. Museum lecture Sept. 24 explores new evidence of fossil porcupine

September 14th, 2006

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History graduate student Alex Hastings will describe new evidence of a fossil porcupine from Haile, Fla. in his lecture from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sept. 24 as part of the Florida Museum’s Science Sunday lecture series.

In his presentation, “Bridging the Continents: The Porcupine Enters North America,” Hastings will discuss how this missing link can contribute to the understanding of porcupine evolution and what it can tell us about Florida’s environment 2 million years ago.

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

Fla. Museum seeks volunteers for Newberry fossil dig

September 13th, 2006

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Division is looking for volunteers this fall to assist with fossil collecting at a major site discovered in 2005 at a limestone quarry northeast of Newberry.

The fossil dig will run from Sept. 18 – Dec. 20 with work on weekends and weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and physically fit enough to work outside for a minimum of three hours. No previous experience necessary. For more information, visit http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/2006_dig.htm or e-mail rhulbert@flmnh.ufl.edu.

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Fla. Museum fossil dig successful, more volunteers needed through May 13

April 13th, 2006

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History paleontologists and volunteers have recovered 60 partial to nearly complete animal skeletons from an ancient clay-filled sinkhole located in western Alachua County since work at the site began in May 2005, but more volunteers are still needed for the project, scheduled to continue through May 13.

Approximately 10 to 12 volunteers are needed each day, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, maintain a moderate level of physical fitness and be able to work outdoors for a minimum of three hours. 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.

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Fla. Museum fossil dig successful, more volunteers needed through Dec. 17

November 9th, 2005

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History paleontologists and volunteers have recovered more than 1,500 fossils from an ancient clay-filled sinkhole located in western Alachua County since work at the site began Oct. 11, but more volunteers are still needed for the project, scheduled to continue through Dec. 17.

The large-scale excavation of the site approximately two miles northeast of Newberry has uncovered 2-million-year-old fossilized bones and teeth of freshwater and land animals. Florida Museum paleontologists Jonathan Bloch and Richard Hulbert, who are leading the excavation, believe the initial weeks of the dig have been “extremely successful.”

“The scientific value of many of the skeletons we are uncovering is remarkably significant,” Bloch said. “The recovered skeletons of sloths and tapirs will allow detailed study of how these extinct mammals were related to mammals discovered at other fossil sites and to their living relatives.”

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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.

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Fla. Museum offers free Finding Florida Fossils program

March 31st, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host a free public program, “Finding Florida Fossils,” from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16.

This family oriented program will educate visitors on where Florida fossils are found, why fossil permits are required and how to get one, and how to identify fossils. Visitors can see fossils from the Florida Museum’s collections, meet museum researchers and representatives from Florida fossil clubs and the Florida Paleontological Society, and “stump the paleontologist” with their own fossil find. Visitors also can enjoy lectures on microfossils, fossil preparation and skeletal mounts, or participate in a variety of activities designed for kids of all ages. Guests can enjoy the award-winning “Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land” exhibition, which opened in May 2004, or purchase an annual state permit for $5 and start their own fossil collection.

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Fla. Museum scientist: Ideas about fossil horses undergo evolution in thinking

March 17th, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, says a Florida Museum of Natural History researcher whose findings show that the evolution of horses had more twists and turns than previously thought.

According to conventional notions, horses simply became bigger over time and switched from being diminutive shrub nibblers to the statuesque, grass-eating masters of the open plains, said Bruce MacFadden, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History. His article appears in the March 18 issue of the journal Science. But the new horse sense is that the equine mammals are adaptable critters whose size, diet and range depended on geography and climate, he said.

“The old ideas about how horses evolved made for a fairly simple and tidy story,” said MacFadden, whose 1992 book “Fossil Horses” is considered the definitive work on the subject. “But many of the concepts about horse evolution that came into being during the 20th century are now outmoded, giving way to an understanding of the fossil horse sequence that is much more complex.”

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Fla. Museum offers 14th annual Thomas Farm fossil dig

February 25th, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host its 14th annual “Pony Express” Thomas Farm Fossil Dig, themed “Hummingbird Challenge” from March 31 – April 3 and April 7 – 10. This year’s dig will focus on microfossils, with the hopes of uncovering a fossil hummingbird.

Participants will have the chance to discover hundreds of fossils at Thomas Farm, an 18-million-year-old site located in Gilchrist County that has already produced the remains of more than 60 species of extinct amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

David Steadman, the Florida Museum’s curator of ornithology, will lead the outings. The trips include dinner on Thursday through lunch on Sunday, beverages, complete access to the fossil site and its camping facilities, evening lectures by fossil experts on Friday and Saturday night, expert paleontologists and a chance to make scientific discoveries.

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Fla. Museum offers new Florida Fossils preschool class Feb. 9

January 26th, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer its new preschool program “Wigglers and Walkers” from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9 for children ages 2-5. This month’s program is themed “Florida Fossils.”

Participants will join museum docents for child-friendly fun and learn about Florida Museum exhibits through stories, games, hands-on objects and other age-appropriate activities. This month the class will explore the Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land permanent exhibition, touch real fossils from museum collections and enjoy stories about fossils.

Cost is $3 for each adult and child pair, and $1 for each additional child. Pre-registration is not required but children must be accompanied by an adult. Guests should arrive early to park their strollers and meet new friends.

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