by Cindy Roll, Florida Fossil Hunters
This issue’s featured fossil was provided by Cindy Roll. Cindy Roll is an avid fossil hunter and a member of the Florida Fossil Hunters Club. She has coordinated several trips for the club into the Mosaic phosphate mines which she says are a “blast” to surface hunt. She has volunteered in the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Vertebrate Paleontology lab, where she assisted in the restoration and preservation of all kinds of fossils. She also had the wonderful opportunity to participate in several FLMNH sponsored digs to include the unearthing of a mammoth in central Florida. Cindy is an outdoor girl and loves the sun and water. She will look high and low for fossils and is willing to try just about anything to find them…to include going as far as, a black water dive in South Carolina! Her absolute favorite place to be is in the middle of the Peace River, digging and sifting for megs and mastodons!
It was a chilly Saturday morning in early January of this year when five of my friends and I rented a boat from Sundial Charters in Tybee Island, Georgia. They took us up the Savannah River to a ‘spoil’ island, which is where the dredgers dump all the stuff they are pulling up from the bottom of the river. At low tide you surface hunt for sharks teeth and other collectible so like antique bottles. We found a few large pieces of Megalodon, a old bottles and lots of little teeth….but my favorite find of the day was what looks to be a piece of whale bone with a few Meg bite marks on it. It was a fun day trip for us and the folks at Sundial were great!
by Victor Perez, Florida Museum of Natural History
It is not uncommon to come across bone with scavenging traces. These traces tell the story of a violent interaction between predator and prey. It remains unknown if these bite marks indicate a fatal encounter or rather indicate scavenging of an already deceased carcass. None-the-less, the size, shape and spacing of these traces can provide insight into the ecological interactions that transpired millions of years ago. The bone fragment is likely a section of the lower jaw of a baleen whale. The random orientation of the scratch marks indicates multiple bites from different angles. This may suggest one individual approaching the whale from different vantages or numerous individuals involved in a feeding frenzy. After a whale dies the carcass often sinks down to the seafloor where other small critters (crabs, fish, etc.) join in on the scavenging and they too can leave traces of their scavenging activity. Check out this video of a whale carcass being scavenged on the sea floor.