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Paleo Discoveries' Newsletter  Fall 2010
Jeff and Dawn Sinsko
   Happy Fall, fossil friends! As you may have already guessed, we're featuring fossil whales in this month's issue.
 Also on tap are river collecting news, Megalodon teeth, and we'll profile some of the books available on our website store. BTW, if you have a comment or suggestion for us (me) about what you want to see in upcoming newsletters, let me know!
Don't forget to follow us on Facebook. We add pictures, links to info and other good stuff regularly. Share pictures from your fossil-hunting tour or educational program so everyone can see! Our website homepage also has a link to older newsletters.
News- The Peace River Times
 Well, the Florida summer was hot and very dry this year until late Aug., then the rains came. And came some more. As of today 9/17, the Peace River water level is still pretty high but starting to fall as the rains slow down. Things always have a way of evening out, don't they?  The Florida dry season starts soon however and when it does, expect some great collecting for the early birds who collect first. The flipside of the high sustained water levels is a lot of fossils newly flushed out from the bottom and edges of the river. 

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Fossil Animals of the Quarter- Whales
   The picture at the top of this newsletter shows two types of whales that are probably familiar to most people, a sperm whale at top and below it a baleen whale. If you really know your fossils, you might know the two animals below them are whales as well- at least ancestral whales. The most recent evidence shows whales evolved from 4-legged land animals to a life completely in the sea. Georgiacetus in the photo is a transitional animal halfway adapted to life in the sea; their fossils are more than 45 million years old.  Dorudon above it is slightly more recent at 40 million or so.
  Toothed whales (such as sperm whales) are grouped as odontocetes while baleen whales are known as mysticetes. Odontocetes are more common and include dolphins, porpoises, orcas, belugas and pilot whales among others. Mysticetes can lay claim to the largest animal that ever lived, the blue whale.
  Whales very similar to today's whales began evolving approx. 20 million years ago but were generally smaller, they attained their very large size only within the last few million years.
  Fossil whale remains most commonly found in coastal areas are pictured below. On occasion, an entire skeleton can turn up, but it's generally a rare event. The fossils pictured were found in the Peace River and the Lee Creek mine in Aurora, NC and range in age from 20 million to 5 million years old.

 Baleen Whale lower jaw section           Sperm Whale Teeth                 Auditory Bulla (Inner Ear Bone)

Whale phalange (finger bone)        Whale vertebra
Megalodons of the Quarter

These Megalodon shark teeth are different in that they aren't from any of the SE states. They're from an old site in NJ that I used to collect named appropriately enough, Shark River. These teeth are about 20 million years old and are referred to as Chubutensis or "Chubs". The largest tooth is about 2-1/2".

These are four of our favorite books that deal with Southeastern US paleontology- all are highly recommended for anyone interested in ancient Florida natural history. Educational discounts apply for larger orders; please call or e-mail us. They're described in detail and available on our website store