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Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida-Newsletter, Issue #0009 -- The Hardpack Layer
September 01, 2011

Fossil Newsletter, Issue #0009 - The Hardpack Layer

September 01, 2011

In this Issue:

* Almost a Fossil Hunting Bust!
* The Hardpack Layer
* What's New at

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Almost a Fossil Hunting Bust!

The day was a fossil hunting bust! We had been diving multiple locations on the river and had found absolutely nothing. Even for slow fossil hunting days, this was a record. But, we wanted to scout some new locations and even though it had rained the night before, the river’s visibility was still good and the temperature was cool.

It was early afternoon, and we still had time for one more dive. Moving up river a couple of miles, my diving friend and I found an area with less weeds and algae, with some good ruble and gravel in which to look for fossils. While boating up river to this spot, we encountered a pod of 14 Manatees. This was the largest group that I had personally ever seen in the wild, on a Florida river. The Manatees were huge, almost the size of our boat. They were diving under one side of it and coming out on the other. What a thrill!

We started working the gravel and found a few fossils along with a partial Mastodon bone. The water was shallow and the current was strong, but visibility was good, especially when the sun was out. My diving buddy and I were finishing our last tank of the day when we realized that this pod of Manatees, that we had seen earlier, were working their way up the river to our diving spot. With camera in hand, I was able to get some short underwater digital video clips as a number of them came swimming by our location. These animals are very large and earn the name “Sea Cow”. Keeping that in mind: “OK, these are super gentle plant eaters” and “they don’t bother anyone,” “Right?” When an animal that size swims past you and around you only feet away - you know you’re suddenly not in your environment.

Almost all of the Manatees that I saw swimming by, had scars from boat propellers on their backs, along with a good amount of algae. It took me a second or two to realize, that when I saw them rolling over and rubbing their backs on the river sand, that they where trying to remove the algae growths from off of their backs.

That particular river produces a number of fossil Manatee bones, ribs, vertebrae, and teeth. Those fossil Manatees bones are from the same species that just swam by me. I didn’t find any fossil Manatee bones that day, but had an up close and personal encounter with several of Florida’s Prehistoric Mammals.


Click Here - To see Video

The Hardpack Layer

There is a layer of redeposited material made up of gravel, fossils, and sand, which sits just above the bedrock (usually the Ocala Limestone). The layer is often referred to as the “Hardpack” or the “Hardpack Layer” (although, I have often heard the locals refer to it as the “Hardtack”). This is a Prehistoric Riverbed layer that was redeposited thousands of years ago by a substantial storm with serious flooding. Overtime, smaller pieces of rock and sand fill the spaces and crevices in the rocks and fossils, to create the Hardpack layer.

Fossils almost always concentrate in these Hardpack river gravels, which often contain fantastic fossil teeth and bones. One of the things that is exciting about these layers is that you know you will only find fossils, and not any modern material.

Recently, while fanning away sediment sands in a local river, a nice fossil deer jaw with 3 teeth revealed itself as if sat perched on top of the Hardpack layer. It looked like someone had just sat it there, although it was somewhat cemented to the layer. As a fossil hunter in Florida, you’re always looking for these layers and fanning through them, until they play out.


Click Here - To see Video

What's New at

*Take a look at these newly added or updated pages!
Fossils for Sale 1
Fossils for Sale 2

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