“Under a microscope, it’s just like looking at big things — it’s just as exciting,” Poyer said as he examined previously screened microfossils left in the sun to dry. “The cool thing about microfossils is that small animals tend to stay in one place while large animals often travel, so the small stuff serves as environmental indicators of habitat.”
At many famous sites, fossils are actually rare and one might dig for days before finding a single tooth. At Thomas Farm, however, fossils are abundant and everyone who digs finds something, making it one of the best locations for teaching paleontology in North America, Steadman said.
David Steadman works delicately to uncover a fossil at Thomas Farm in 2015.
“When fossils are rare, you have a hard time identifying what the range of variation within a species might be,” Steadman said. “With the horses and so many other species at Thomas Farm, we can put together the whole picture, from young, adults, right through older horses, which we know were aged because their teeth were worn down. We have the advantage of looking at the entire age series of extinct species.”
A hundred years from now, Steadman says, people will still dig and make new discoveries at Thomas Farm.
These male and female bear dog skulls unearthed at Thomas Farm have been cleaned, prepped, re-articulated and added to the vertebrate paleontology collections at Dickinson Hall, the Florida Museum's research and collections facility.
Written by Stephenie Livingston/UF News; historic photos courtesy of the Florida Museum, and 2015 photos by museum photographers Jeff Gage and Kristen Grace. Story was originally published by the Florida Museum in 2015.