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Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida-Newsletter, Issue #0010 -- How to Dry Your Fossils
October 03, 2011

Fossil Newsletter, Issue #0010 - How to Dry Your Fossils

October 03, 2011

In this Issue:

* Gator Bait!
* How to Dry Your Fossils
* What's New at

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Gator Bait!

It was the last dive of the day; I was hunting fossils in a local Florida river. My mask kept leaking on me. In shallow water, I found a place to stand-up and adjust my mask. Something caught my eye about 100 feet away, floating debris? Maybe something dislodged from the bottom – no, seems to be moving towards me – Ah, an alligator, but how big?

My dive buddy was on the bottom about 25 feet away, should I go back under and tell him? No..., let’s see how big this guy is first (size does matter when it comes to alligators). So, I start moving towards the shore while this gator is still following me, and closing in. Now, “I’m thinking”, I WILL be getting out of the water and onto the bank. I got stuck in the mud above the knee, at the waters edge, and my gator friend was still coming my way. I crawled out, got onto the bank with tanks and weights still on while my reptilian friend was still coming at me.

I needed a weapon! No rocks, but I did find a big stick (maybe he likes to play “fetch”). Now, this guy is about 45 feet away, and then he suddenly does a left hand turn towards the shore. The gator looks about 6 feet long and he’s only a few feet away from our boat.

I kept an eye on him for a minute and then decided to go back into the water to get my dive buddy, knowing he would be about out of air. I didn’t want him to pop-up on the gator side of the boat. The visibility of the water, that day, was about 2 ½ feet – not that great for fossil hunting or detecting alligators. I found my friend and got him to the surface to tell him of our OTHER friend waiting for him at the boat. It did cross my mind to give the universal “Gator Chop” hand signal underwater, but thought that was “over-the-top”. He got out and said that he would keep an eye on the gator, while I finished my last 100 lbs. of air on my new productive dive spot. Funny, I can’t tell you at that point, if my mask was leaking or not.

I’ve had a few alligator encounters while diving, but none where I was targeted and hunted down. Ahhh..., the joys of fossil hunting.

How to Dry Your Fossils

If your fossils are coming from a river, ocean, or deep sediment layer – they will be very wet or at least have some moisture in them. Drying them too fast could damage them.

You can wash and dry them. Soap, water, and an old tooth brush can do wonders for most fossils, depending on how fragile they are. Drying vertebrate fossils needs to be done in a shady spot where air can circulate. Never dry any fossil in direct sunlight. I place my wet river fossils in an old cardboard beer flat (an industry standard, I think) and let them dry in the shade.

Some bones from the river deposits will crack, splinter, or flake as they dry. This is a good sign that the bones may not be fossils, but are modern. Good minerized fossil bones do not usely do this. The problem comes when fossil animals that lived during the Pleistocene or Ice Age are still alive today and modern bones and teeth are being deposited in the rivers. A good example of this would be deer, alligators, modern pig or wild hogs, horses, cows (similar in look to bison), etc. The absolute sure-fire fossil of an age 11,000 years old or greater, would be to discover the extinct megafauna; Mastodon, Mammoth, Giant Sloth, Saber-Toothed Cat, Giant Armadillo, Glyptodont, Giant Beaver, Tapir (unless you live by a zoo), etc.

Give your fossils plenty of time to dry. Slow and steady wins the race.

What's New at

*Take a look at these newly added or updated pages!
*Fossils for Sale 3
*Facebook Like Link
*Fossil Spotlight:

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