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Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida-Newsletter, Issue #0019 -- Prehistoric Rivers -Part 1
August 21, 2013
Fossil Newsletter, Issue #0019 - Prehistoric Rivers 1
In this Issue:
* Prehistoric Rivers -Part 1
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Prehistoric Rivers -Part 1Most rivers in Florida produce fossils, but here is a look at a few of the other things you might find on a river or spring.
While focusing on fossil hunting it is easy to overlook all of the tremendous beauty around you on these Prehistoric Rivers. Of course, it is not hard to overlook the swarming cloud of hungry mosquitoes that can follow you around or the low hanging paper wasp nests at the waters edge, or the Cotton Mouths, or the large spiders, and best of all, the Alligators.
One of the most familiar things that you will see is the turtles. Florida has over 25 different types of fresh water turtles. (With every sunny log you pass having a turtle on it; either warming up, drying out, or probably trying to get rid of the pesky algae or moss growing on their backs.) It is always interesting to see how many turtles can stack-up on each other while sunning themselves on a log. They are always a companion and dive buddy while fossil hunting.
The dragonflies are always with you landing on all possible things. I prefer the flying ones as opposed to their larvae stage, in the water, which I find a little more vicious.
Bald Cypress knees are those swampy, primeval protrusions that you associate with “The South”. It grows at the waters edge and in the wet standing water areas. I believe they are considered the universal boat “tie-up”, common dragonfly pit stop, and a favorite apple snail egg laying area. They are the surprisingly delightful submerged obstacle found underneath the sediment that you trip on while trying to walk at the water’s edge.
Lots of birds: Herons, Ibis, an occasional Bald Eagle, Black Vultures, and one of my favorites the Snakebird (Anhinga anhinga) – always holding out their wings to dry themselves off.
One could have a love-hate relationship with the plants that you encounter on these ancient rivers. Above the water they are spectacular, but below the water they are too abundant and over whelming. Long term droughts and phosphate run-offs have caused many algaes and hydrilla (another non-native Florida water plant) to explode in population – choking the river in an impenetrable jungle. I suppose it makes good hideouts for turtles, alligators and sometimes a Manatee with a calf.
One example is Water Lettuce, a beautifully exotic, but invasive water plant that obstructs the waterways and slows plant diversity by taking over in large thick patches. It can be bought on eBay for ornamental ponds in your backyard, but in rivers and springs it can block light from other native underwater plants and it lowers the oxygen levels in the water for other animals, like fish.
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