November 26, 2011
Mastodon Fossils Discovered At Daytona Beach
Prehistoric animal bones found at a Daytona Beach construction site have been confirmed as belonging to a mastodon, officials at the local Museum of Arts and Sciences confirmed on Tuesday.
According to reports by both WESH.com and The Daytona Beach News Journal, the bones were discovered by crews working on a storm water retention pond near Nova Road. The construction site was closed down in order to preserve the fossils -- a jawbone, some vertebrae, two tusks, pieces of femur and some additional bones belonging to the large-tusked, Ice Age-era mammal.
"We're finding some significant pieces -- tusks and vertebrae. We don't know completely what's down there yet, so it gets more exciting the more we dig," Museum of Arts and Sciences representative Zach Zacharias told WESH on Wednesday.
Officials from the museum added that they did not know as of that time whether or not there was a single partial skeleton, a full set of remains, or bones from multiple creatures located at the fossil site. However, they said that they kept finding more and more bones at the retention pond's location, and they believe that they are between 13,000 and 150,000 years old.
"If the bone fragments add up to a full skeleton, it would only be about the 13th such find in Florida, according to a top official with the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville," Daytona Beach News Journal Staff Writer Eileen Zaffiro-Kean wrote on November 23.
"It's not extremely rare, but it's not common, either," that official, vertebrate paleontology expert Richard Hulbert, told Zaffiro-Kean. After seeing pictures of the jaw and bone fragments via email, Hulbert said that the specimen "definitely looks like an American mastodon“¦ The size and nature of the teeth are very distinctive. It looks pretty nice. It's definitely of scientific interest."
The News Journal notes that since the fossils were found on city property, the city owns them. Hulbert said that he would come to assist at the site if the city were willing to donate the fossils to his museum, and pledged his long-distance assistance should they decline to do so, Zaffiro-Kean said.
"Museum officials, who are being aided by a local amateur paleontologist, are making most of their discoveries on one end of the site. They're worried about people drifting in and taking souvenirs, and they've asked the media not to pinpoint the area where the retention ponds are being built by identifying nearby side streets and landmarks," she added.
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