TBFC Logo Saber

Our meetings are moving to a new building - starting with the next meeting

We will be moving to the C. W. "Bill" Young Hall (aka the ROTC building) room number CWY107.
You can use the parking lot directly across from the main lot we use now.

President's Message

Okay Folks, here’s a public address message you need to pay attention to: TBFC’s December 10th meeting will be on the 2nd Saturday of the month. AND we will be meeting in a different room. But don’t panic looking for a USF map just yet. The new room, CWY107, is in the C. W. Bill Young Hall which is almost right across the street from where we have been meeting for many years in the Behavioral Science Building. Look for signs directing you into the C. W. Bill Young Hall parking lot, or, just park where you always have and walk across the street.

The date change to the 2nd Saturday is just for the month of December and we will return to our routine 1st Saturday of the month for meetings through May.

People are Finding Fossils!

I’d like to make a few comments about our cover boy this month, not the mosasaur, Frank Garcia. He’s graced our publication’s cover many times in the past.

The face of TBFC has changed over the years, so many of you may not even know who Frank Garcia is, but you should. He’s a guy like me and you. He grew up in Tampa. And he loves fossils. He may even love finding them more than having them. Some people say he can smell them, and while that sounds like some kind of “paleo” urban legend, I’ve seen him dig in a spot after predicting to find something, and he did. No different than Babe Ruth pointing to the right field fence before walloping a home run right out of the park.

With only a high school diploma Frank Garcia became one of the best amateur paleontologist in the United States and a highly sought after field explorer working for many museums including the Smithsonian. Today we find Frank back in the spotlight. This time after finding a giant Mosasaur in South Dakota. Maybe the biggest of its type ever found. Maybe a new species.

I can’t tell you how often I have TBFC members tell me that they can’t find fossils anymore, that the rivers are “dived out” and the mines are all “off limits”. Or that the only way to find good fossils is to hook into someone’s double secret spot. I guarantee you the fossils are still there. People like Garcia are finding them.

There are no secrets to finding this stuff. I’ve seen Frank hunt fossils from here to Nebraska, and he doesn’t do it any different than you or I. His secret, you want to know? He gets out and hunts as often as he can. The reason he’s found more fossils than most of us combined is he’s literally spent his entire life hunting for fossils.

You don’t have to dedicate every waking moment to fossil hunting like Frank Garcia. But you do have to make the commitment to go. You have to spend a weekend or two, or a dozen, a year driving to a mine, creek, river, or even Nebraska or Wyoming. And if you put some hours into hunting I guarantee you’ll find fossils. Good fossils, and scientifically valuable fossils.

Garcia continues to do what he does best and finds himself again touted in newspapers all over the country for his recent find. You can see the article from the Rapid City Journal in this edition of the Fossil Chronicles. You’ll also see some pictures from other TBFC fossil hunters who have gotten off the couch and spent time in the mud or deep in a river looking to find the remains of the creatures from the past we all cherish.

The fossils are out there, go get them…

December 10th Meeting
Ph.D. Candidate, Matt Hayes
Helicoprion, the Whirl-Toothed Shark &
Shark Tooth Ecology

December’s meeting will feature University of South Florida Ph.D. candidate Matt Hayes. Matt is TBFC’s most recent scholarship winner and he conducts his research/studies at the USF Tampa campus. Matt is currently a stable isotope geochemist and paleo-ecologist. Earning his M.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi with a thesis focused on carbonate geochemistry of a dinosaur-track-filled sandstone in British Columbia, Canada, he then worked for the Mississippi Office of Geology, mapping flood hazards and subsurface geothermal gradients for four years before moving to Florida to pursue his doctorate.

Matt will be speaking about his two projects. The first of which forms the basis of his dissertation and explores the use of shark teeth as an indicator of marine ecological stability over human history. This project utilizes modern, historical (museum collections), and archeological samples to estimate the trophic position (steps up a food chain) of sharks as human settlements began impacting coastal environments, from earliest settlements in the Gulf Coast to the advent of large-scale commercial fishing.

The second project, and the one perhaps more interesting to TBFC, looks at Helicoprion tooth whorls from this unusual Permian "shark" to determine the paleo-temperature of its environment throughout the lifespan of the individual, a rare window into the climate of the Phosphoria Sea of Southeast Idaho.

As a past TBFC scholarship winner, we certainly look forward to spending the evening with Matt Hayes.

Jurassic Park in the Dark, Again!
A TBFC Movie Event
January 21, 2016

What would be better than spending a beautiful Florida evening outside watching the 2015 sequel Jurassic World on a big screen? TBFC has a nice PowerPoint projector and January is certainly a great time of year to spend some time outdoors cuddled up under a blanket with your favorite “paleo” person. We tried this several times and the Jurassic Park in the Dark movie event has been a huge success. Nearly 50 people have showed up to enjoy the movie and spend some time with other fossil friends.

Bring along some yard chairs or blankets and your own cooler of drinks and snacks, or Thermos full of hot cocoa. Arrive at 6PM to claim your spot and we’ll get the movie started @ 6:30PM. My address is 2407 Tangerine Hill Court, Lutz, FL 33549. This is a free TBFC event, so bring the whole family, and the neighbors. Don’t miss it!

Good Hunting,
Mike Searle