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Paleo Discoveries Newsletter                                       Fall  2011


KEN AND FAM 2
First fossil trip! Mammoth and Megalodon teeth.
  Welcome to our Fall newsletter! We had a great summer season out on the river and we'd like to share it with you! 
  Not sure about the Chinese calendar but it must be the year of the elephant-  Mammoth and Mastodon fossils kept showing up in many of the places we looked.  While it was mostly teeth, we did get some bones. In honor of our big elephant season, we're featuring the American Mastodon in this issue.   
News- The Peace River Times
The south Florida dry season runs from approx. mid-late Oct. to early June most years but this year gave us a bonus month plus of low water level through late July. The water was so low in fact through the spring it was sometimes difficult to paddle without having to portage the canoe over sand bars and limestone.
August brought the rains back but lower water levels should return soon. Be the early bird and take advantage of what the river just washed out this summer; lots of fossils flush out from the riverbed and banks when the water levels are up.  

Megalodon of the Quarter-
 ANGUSTIDENS
 Technically, this is not a Megalodon tooth per se but it is an ancestor to the Megalodon named Angustidens that lived during the Oligocene epoch between 24 and 34 million years ago.
This tooth is a 2-1/4" juvenile Angustiden from the Chandler Bridge Formation near Charleston, SC. The small cusplets on each side of the tooth are characteristic of Megalodon shark ancestry. Angustiden teeth can get up to 5" long but a large one of that size is rare anywhere. Juvenile teeth are very common in the low country of SC as it was a nursery area for young Angustiden sharks.

Creature of the Quarter-
The American Mastodon
MASTODON PIC
Almost everyone has heard of the Mastodon but it still gets second billing status many times to the larger, more familiar mammoth. Both were very large elephant relatives but the mammoth was far more closely related to elephants today than the mastodon.
  Mammoths and mastodons roamed far and wide over much of North America and the world during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs between 5 million and 10,000 years ago.
  Mastodons grew to 10' tall at full maturity and were very bulky, large animals. Their teeth were multi-cusped and shaped very differently from Mammoths owing to their browsing diet on low trees, shrubs, flowers, pine cones and low vegetation. Mammoths are known for primarily grazing on grass and had lower crowned, flat grinding teeth. Because of their different diets mastodons and mammoth could co-exists without competing for food. Mastodons tended to be more forest and woodland inhabitants while mammoths spent time in open grasslands although they undoubtedly shared habitat on occasion.
Recent chemical analysis studies of fossil mastodon teeth reveal that they migrated seasonally in search of preferred food or possibly water. Global water levels were much lower during the ice-age and water was seasonally very scarce.
  There is also much evidence of human interaction with both mammoths and mastodons between 10 and 13,000 years ago in North America. European dates for interaction go back even further. Spear points, carved bone and tusk have all been found in association with mastodon and mammoth fossil remains.

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MASTODON TOOTH
American Mastodon tooth from the Peace River 6/2011. Notice the high crown adapted for leaf and shrub browsing. A really nice tooth that I managed to hit with my shovel and shear most of the roots off of. I kept looking and found most of them and pieced it back together. White material is bonding agent.

mastodon femur



Femur of American Mastodon found in the Peace River area, 7/2011. The ends are unfortunately missing but this is still a big bone. I hauled it about a 1/2 mile through the jungle. It must weigh about 45-50 pounds. Length is 29"