Florida Museum of Natural History

Vertebrate Paleontology

Tapir Challenge Volunteers

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The Tapir Challenge Fossil Dig has finished.

The Tapir Challenge pitted fossil collecting teams from the Florida Museum of Natural History and East Tennessee State University to dermine whose site would produce the most tapir skeletons. By the spring of 2008, the challenge was about an even draw, although the Tennesse group has many years of productive work ahead of them. The Florida site was located northeast of the small town of Newberry in western Alachua County. Its technical name is Haile 7G. The fossils found at Haile 7G are about 2 million years old, from the late Pliocene Epoch. Fossils from about 100 different species of animals were collected at the site in addition to all the tapirs.

Over 550 volunteers answered the call of the challenge from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2008. We collected a total of 79 tapir skeletons. In addition, we found about 100 skeletons of other mammals, about 250 turtle skeletons, 23 alligator skeletons, and three bird skeletons, making this one of the most significant fossil sites ever excavated in Florida. Much of this productivity is due to our volunteers, who contributed over 8,000 hours of work at the site.

Our top volunteers, with 50 or more hours worked at the site were:

Suzanne Conner (476 hours; 18 skeletons)

Bill Keeler (329 hours; 6 skeletons)

John Helling (255 hours; 6 skeletons)

Sari Sanborn (199 hours; 5 skeletons)

Bill Sabis (189 hours; 6 skeletons)

Robert Tarnuzzer (170 hours; 16 skeletons)

Dean Warner (154 hours; 4 skeletons)

Mary Lynch (136 hours; 2 skeletons)

John Bell (127 hours; 1 skeleton)

Lorraine McDowell (117 hours; 2 skeletons)

Bonnie Ogle (115 hours; 3 skeletons)

Rosemary McDaniel (102 hours; 3 skeletons)

Juan Fernandez (97 hours; 7 skeletons)

Jaimie Miller (90 hours; 2 skeletons)

Linda Geary (84 hours; 3 skeletons)

Sue McCurdy (80 hours; 3 skeletons)

Carolyn Eastwood (77 hours; 1 skeleton)

Sue Confer (71 hours; 2 skeletons)

Gina Cowsert (68 hours)

Jack Shaw (68 hours)

Jim Kendrick (66 hours; 5 skeletons)

Barabara Searcy (63 hours)

Brenda Farlow (59 hours; 2 skeletons)

April Searcy (57 hours; 1 skeleton)

Dennis Appleby (56 hours; 4 skeletons)

Philippe Olivier (56 hours)

Barbara Toomey (53 hours; 1 skeleton)