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Notice: Change of meeting time!

We've changed the time for our Saturday meetings from 7:30 PM to 7:00 PM.
This will help keep the meetings from running too late,
if a speaker goes too long.

President's Message

People “DIG” FossilFest!

Wow… What a weekend. And once again, what a successful show! I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. FossilFest had good coverage on television and it sure brought in a great crowd. Especially on Sunday!

We have three major goals each year at FossilFest; earn funds to operate TBFC through the year, teach the public about Florida’s prehistory, and reach out to new members. We accomplished all of that! It looks like we had 30 new families sign up as members with TBFC at FossilFest and over 40 renewals. That in itself is a great success! If you’re one of those new members that signed up for the adventure, I welcome you to the Tampa Bay Fossil Club!

Everyone worked very hard, some for three hours, some for three days (some for weeks leading up to the show). I hate to thank individual volunteers by name in this writing, but I have to mention a few people here. TBFC Director David Faucher and Tyler Fuchs spent the night on the FossilFest floor both Friday and Saturday night to stand sentry on the fossils at the show. And then they worked both days in one of the busiest booths at FossilFest, the hotdog stand. All in all, they spent about 48 straight hours at FossilFest.

I have to thank Steve Vicari and Nancy Jacobs. They took over managing the hotdog stand, they worked it the whole weekend, and did a wonderful job. But a lot of people worked the whole weekend, right? Steve and Nancy get a special nod here because they drove over a thousand miles (each way) from Tyler, Texas to be with us and volunteer at FossilFest.

I have to thank my wife Seina for working on the volunteer assignments for months ahead of the show (with help on weekends from Debbie Arndt), and many of the other details at Fossilfest that just seem to “happen” because of her. Every year for as long as I can remember Barbara Fite has led the negotiations with the Fairgrounds and scheduled the dealers. She also handles many other problems as they occur. That’s not easy considering the Florida State Fair is occurring right before FossilFest and those fair people are awfully busy and hard to get ahold of. Jerry Zolg spends many hours leading up to the show arranging, and rearranging the floor plan to fit our needs, and sometimes the last-minute changes that have to happen. Our FossilFest trailer weighs in excess of 6 tons. We need a huge truck to make that move and for many years Mike Burnett has driven from Bradenton, Florida to pick up the trailer in Zephyrhills where it is stored on the property of TBFC members Darren and Nicole Watts. By the time Mike drives to ZHills, hooks up, drives back to the fairgrounds, and then back home, it’s an eight-hour day. He does this on Friday, in morning traffic, and then again on Sunday. Hidden in all of the excitement of FossilFest is Bill Faucher collecting money, making change, and getting money safely to the bank. Dr. Bob Sinibaldi assisted me with television appearances. Dr. Bob also did two presentations each day at FossilFest. Leslie Branin hauled a metric ton of books to the show. Fred Hendershot and Robert Page both spent the entire weekend with kids at the Touch Table. Also working with the kids, Bert Blackburn managed the Kid’s Mine for the entire weekend. It takes a bunch of patience to deal with all of the excitement in the kid’s area. Phil Mathes managed the Silent Auction with help from Marlin Swikert and John & Cheryl Jacobs. And that’s just some of the big things that get done…

There were too many people to name that spent three entire days at FossilFest.

I have to thank all of TBFC’s Officers, Directors, and ALL of the members who volunteered to make the show the success that it was. We certainly couldn’t have done it without you. If you were one of the 120 plus volunteers during the show, thank you. From the admissions, to the silent auction, donations, club sales, kids mine, set up, break down, security, and everything in-between, I can’t thank you all enough.

I get lots of accolades and slaps on the back during FossilFest. I always tell everyone what a great support staff I, and FossilFest, have. FossilFest 2019 was a huge success, and that’s because of all of you.

So, I have to ask… Are you still tired from FossilFest? Sorry, no time to sit down; TBFC’s season isn’t over yet. We’re just getting started!

April 6 Meeting
Fossil Brain Science: Armadillos and Their Extinct Relatives
Rachel Narducci, Florida Museum of Natural History

Rachel Narducci, a Montbrook fossil dig coordinator for the Florida Museum of Natural History, received the NSF GRF to help her work with fossils. The program recognizes graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in NSF-supported disciplines.

Rachel said her research will focus on reconstructing the brain and biology of extinct armadillo relatives by nano-CT scanning fossil skulls and utilizing software to digitally extract the cranial endocast, or negative space inside the skull.

This research allows her to become experienced in CT scanning fossils and modern specimens and digitally reconstructing CT data to understand morphology, evolution and paleobiology of extinct creatures.

Rachel’s work focuses on armadillos because they are one of the earliest diverging groups of placental mammals and have been poorly studied.

Rachel says she’s been fascinated by prehistoric life ever since preschool, “Now, my childhood dreams have come true, and I am able to pursue a Ph.D. in paleontology. It’s real. I’ve made it. I am actually going to be a paleontologist!”

Rachel’s presentation will discuss the evolution of the brain and its function in this odd group. Her research uses x-ray and scanning technology to recreate the brain of these long extinct animals. She compares the brains to modern armadillos and related animals to try to determine the extinct species ability to see, smell, and hear.

Peace River Adventure
April 27 & 28

With FossilFest hardly behind us we move directly into TBFC’s second largest event of the year, the Peace River Adventure. Twenty plus years ago a group of us from TBFC started an annual pilgrimage to the Peace River to camp, canoe, and of course, hunt for fossils. Each year more and more friends from TBFC would join us on the hunt. For some people it tuned into a weeklong event. While lots of people were hunting the Peace River, TBFC didn’t have an annual campout, or even organized day trips like we have now with Fred Hendershot and Marlin Swikert. I asked the club president at the time if he thought TBFC should host an annual campout and he thought it was a great idea… then put my wife and I in charge of it.

For many years the event was simply called, “Peace River”. Then one April at the close of Peace River Trip weekend a little girl came up to me and thanked me for letting her hunt for fossils. She told me it was the greatest adventure of her life. From that day on the annual event has been known as the Peace River Adventure!

The Peace River Adventure is one of TBFC’s most popular outings. As I mentioned previously, with FossilFest comes many new members, some who have never set foot into a river or mine in search of fossilized creatures from the past. The Peace River event has become these folk’s freshman outing in paleontology and the perfect opportunity to learn how to hunt for their very own fossils. The trip is also a sort of reunion for many of us who have attended the event for more than twenty years!

The Peace River Adventure is a wonderful family outing and the only TBFC fieldtrip when we invite non-members to join in on the hunt. This is your opportunity to introduce friends and family to TBFC and Florida’s prehistoric past. The river is at its shallowest level and accessible by hunters of all ages.

The Peace River Adventure will take new and seasoned fossil hunters into the beautiful Peace River near Zolfo Springs. An afternoon barbecue dinner, benefit auction, and campfires galore will follow the day of fossil hunting. On top of all of that, the Peace River outing boasts some of TBFC’s hottest selling t-shirts of the year. You can find registration forms in thi edition of the Chronicles. Sign up early! This weekend trip only comes around once a year. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me (813) 909-9358 or fossilnerd@msn.com. And, if you’re interested in volunteering at the event for a couple hours, please drop me an email.

In closing, I just want to say thank you again to everyone who helped out this past month. Thank you for making FossilFest, and everything else about TBFC so great.

I look forward to seeing all the new faces at the April meeting.

Good Hunting,
Mike Searle