Do you have children fascinated by prehistoric creatures, dinosaurs and relics from the past? Fossil hunting in Florida is a great way to spend an afternoon in the Sunshine State, especially for budding palaeontologists. With one of the richest fossil records in the world, the prehistoric treasures of Florida include a wide array of mastodon and shark teeth, remains of sabre-toothed cats, ancient turtle shells and a variety of fossilised bones. A fossil hunter’s paradise, most specimens can be found lying loose and are not encased in rock, making Florida’s many beaches and striking riverbeds the perfect place to find fossils.
Visit Venice Beach (dubbed the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”) or explore the sandbars of the Peace River, which stretches from central Florida to the Charlotte Harbor area, to maximise your chances of finding a variety of fossils. Both of these regions are known for their abundance of historic relics, with fossil hunters digging and sifting the beach and river gravel for fossilised shark teeth and prehistoric mammal bones. Venice Beach even hosts an annual Shark’s Tooth Festival every April. Famous for its fossilised tiger shark teeth, as well as the prehistoric bones of horses and giant ground sloths, Jacksonville Beach is another popular hunting ground for fossil collectors.
When fossil hunting in Florida, make sure to explore the sandbanks in periods of low tide (or after a big storm) and take your time searching the expansive beaches – or for the more adventurous, hire a kayak or take a snorkelling trip. To collect most vertebrate fossils you’ll need to obtain a permit issued by the Florida Museum of Natural History ($5). However, if you’re looking for fossilised plants or invertebrates including sea urchins, molluscs, crabs and shark teeth you don’t need a licence.
Channel your inner palaeontologist and join one of the many local clubs dedicated to fossil, shell and mineral collecting or sign up for a tour. Located in Jacksonville, Costal Fossil Adventures concentrates on searching for fossil shark teeth including Great White, Sand Tiger and Grey Sharks and offers both beach walks and kayak trips. Don’t be surprised to find an abundance of shark teeth from just one outing – sharks produce and loose around 20,000 teeth during their lifetime. Tour operator Paleo Discoveries offers treasure hunts for little ones and even organises children’s parties for mini adventurers. Educational, exhilarating and an exciting outdoor history lesson, fossil hunting is the perfect eco-friendly activity for kids and grown-ups alike.
Header Image: Hunting for shark teeth on Venice Beach © Thinkstock/iStock/nostalgi1
Booking flights to Jacksonville has never been simpler. Our partnership with Delta offers connections to and from over 70 destinations across the United States and Canada.
Have you been fossil hunting in Florida? Share your findings with us in the comments section below.