|Paleo Discoveries' Newsletter|| Winter 2010|
Welcome to the Winter edition of our quarterly newsletter- if you're interested in prehistoric life, fossils or just nature in general, we think you'll find something to like here.
The marine mammal on the left should be familiar to most of us, especially here in Florida. If you look closer though, there's something different about this manatee. It's actually an animal called a dugong which is a cousin of the manatee and at one time extremely common here in the south. Dugongs are our animal of quarter featured below.
Yup, we have holiday gift ideas too. If you like paleontology or know someone who does, we have some good stocking stuffer stuff, including our new T-shirts.
Our main website is your portal to the past but you can also follow us on Facebook. We regularly add pictures, links to info and other items of interest regularly. Share pictures from your fossil-hunting tour or fossils you've found somewhere so everyone can see! Write your own mini trip report. Our website homepage also has a link to older newsletters.
|News- The Peace River Times|
Things couldn't be better for fossils hunting in south Florida rivers than they are now. The dry season started earlier than usual and rain has been very sparse. The water level is very low right now (11/30) and should hold for awhile. The high water this summer did indeed wash out some new fossils from the river bottoms. Get the goods while the gettin' is good!
|Fossil Animals of the Quarter- Dugongs |
Dugong Vertebrae Dugong Rib Sections
Whenever we find fossils like these on our tours and I tell people they're from a dugong, they usually have to ask "What is that?" Mantees are far better known, at least here in the U.S., but their fossils are far rarer. Dugongs have lived here in the southeast since at least the Eocene epoch approx. 40-45 million years ago but are most common as fossils in Miocene epoch sediments 5-20 million years old. Dugongs faded into extinction about 4 million years ago in the SE and manatees became much more common.
Dugongs and manatees like whales evolved from land-dwelling mammals and made their lives entirely in the sea; their closest living relatives today are elephants. They feed entirely on aquatic vegetation and spend much of their day eating.
As fossils, dense, heavy dugong rib sections are very abundant in rivers such as the Peace here in Fla. but skull sections, vertebrae, limb bones and teeth are sometimes found. Dugongs' rib bones function as ballast to keep them from being too buoyant and floating in the water.
Dugongs and Manatees today are endangered animals, largely as a result of loss or degradation of their habitat, injury from boat propellers, hunting or pollution. Dugongs millions of years ago may have gone extinct due to climatic change or other factors. Let's hope their still living relatives stay around for a long time to come and don't disappear at our hands.