Ten thousand years old, four feet long and once hinged in a Columbian mammoth’s femur, a 60-pound fossil from the Ice Age now sits in Henry Sadler’s science room at Admiral Farragut Academy.
The amateur paleontologist found the intact bone at the Peace River, a Florida hotspot for “ice aged” artifacts, on Sunday, April 25.
In the three years Sadler has worked the muddy banks and dived for bones at the Arcadia-based river – in a region known as “Bone Valley” – this is the largest and most well-preserved fossil the science teacher’s discovered.
“It was pretty rare to find a bone as intact and complete as that one,” Sadler said.
It was a standard weekend for Sadler and diving companion, Derek Demeter, the Planetarium Director of the Seminole State College.
“It was a last-ditch spot,” Sadler said in a press release. “We’d been diving all day and hadn’t really found anything, and we thought, ‘Why don’t we head upriver a bit and see if there’s anything there.’”
There was something there.
In addition to the mammoth bone, Demeter picked up an ancient saber tooth tiger’s tooth – the “holy grail of Florida fossils,” Sadler wrote – and a tooth from a prehistoric shark that existed before great whites roamed the seas.
Eventually, Sadler plans to use adhesive to restore the fossil’s deteriorating end piece and fix it to another piece of bone. For now, it sits with his other mammoth discoveries and he’ll use it as a teaching tool for seventh graders.
“The kids have a great time with it,” Sadler said. “It’s taller than most of them so they absolutely love it.”
Follow what this teacher-by-weekday and paleontologist-by-weekend unearths next at instagram.com/thinkseek.