Florida Museum of Natural History

Vertebrate Paleontology

Volunteer Fossil Dig, Winter 2013

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The Division of Vertebrate Paleontology is seeking volunteers to work with Florida museum staff and students at a fossil dig in Pinellas County, Florida. This January we will work for seven days, weather permitting. Digging hours are from 10 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. Digging dates are January 12-14 and 18-21. Volunteers are expected to work a minimum of three hours per day and can sign up for multiple days.

Fossils were first discovered and excavated at Boca Ciega Millennium Park in 2007. Thousands of specimens representing over 50 species of late Pleistocene (Ice Age) vertebrates were found. Scientifically, the fauna is of great interest as it is the best known representative a prairie community from the late Pleistocene in Florida. All of the common plant-eating animals are grass-eating specialists, including the giant Columbian mammoth, the extinct bison Bison antiquus, the one-toed horse Equus, and the extinct shelled glyptodont. Florida Museum paleontologists hope that this year’s excavation will recover additional specimens that will allow study of this ancient ecosystem.


The fossil site is located in coastal Pinellas County within the boundaries of the town called Seminole. The site is about a three hour drive from Gainesville, although exact time will depend on your starting point and traffic conditions. The location of the park can be found on this map. Precise driving directions will be provided to volunteers upon acceptance of their application. Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the site.


Volunteers will be digging alongside Florida Museum of Natural History staff and UF graduate students. Normally small hand tools are used, such as screwdrivers and trowels, to carefully dig through the sediment and to expose the fossil bones. If intact and sturdy, the bones will be removed and placed into plastic bags. No previous experience is necessary; we will train you on your first day if you have not worked on one of our past fossil digs.


Volunteers must be at least 18 years old as of January 1, 2013 (sorry, we cannot accept younger volunteers for insurance reasons). Volunteers must be in good enough physical condition to walk on uneven terrain and work outdoors for a three hour interval. For insurance purposes, volunteers must sign a liability waiver and become official museum volunteers. All fossil specimens collected during the excavations become the property of the Florida Museum of Natural History.


We will begin to accept reservations on December 1, 2012. Those who are currently working in the museum as volunteers or who submitted an application for the November 2012 dig do not have to fill out a form, simply send an email to Richard Hulbert that includes your name, phone number, and the date(s) of the days you want to work at Millennium Park.

All others must sumbit an application form. Link to form for volunteers (those 18 years or older as of January 1, 2013).

Filled out forms should be mailed or delivered as listed on the form. There are a limited number of places (10 persons) to dig each day, which are reserved in the order in which we receive the applications.