The 'Scoop' on Florida Fossil Hunting

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Once you know where to look, you'll uncover pieces of Florida's past.

Looking to dig into Florida’s past? Fragments from all manner of prehistoric creatures are commonly found all over the state. Mastodon teeth, shells from ancient turtles, fossilized bones of dinosaur-sized armadillos and other amazing finds are all potential discoveries – if you know how and where to look.

To collect most vertebrate fossils, you’ll first need to obtain a permit that’s issued by the Florida Museum of Natural History. It’s only $5, and you’ll need it for vertebrate fossil hunting on lands and waterways owned or leased by the state.

If you’re looking for fossilized plants or invertebrates, such as mollusks, sea urchins and crabs, you won’t need a permit. Collecting shark teeth, one of the most popular finds, also doesn’t require a permit – and they’re some of the easiest to find.

On the Peace River, flowing from Central Florida to the Charlotte Harbor area, you are almost guaranteed to find shark teeth. Start your search during periods of low water and sift around exposed sandbars. Often, they’ll be right on top.

Venice Beach is known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World” for its abundant finds. Search along the beach or snorkel close to the shoreline, and you are sure to turn up a treasure.

Ready to dig in? Go on your own, or go with a group – there are lots of clubs and guided fossil hunting tours. The Florida Museum of Natural History website (flmnh.ufl.edu) offers resources such as permits, fossil hunting rules, photo galleries and information on Florida fossil clubs.


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