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President's Message

April 2nd Meeting
Dr. Bob Sinibaldi
What Your Fossils Can Tell You
Pathologies in Fossil Bones

Everybody knows Dr. Bob, at least those of you that have been to a meeting or two. A longtime member of TBFC, past president, and current Board member, Dr. Bob is certainly active in the paleo community and a big part of what makes TBFC tick. And did I mention he is also an author with three books to his credit? I’ll throw a plug in here for the Paleo-Store where you can purchase any, or all, of Dr. Bob’s three books: What Your Fossils Can Tell You: Vertebrate Morphology, Pathology, and Cultural Modification, Fossil Diving: In Florida’s Waters or Any Other Waters Containing Prehistoric Treasures, and The Handbook of Paleontological Terms.

Dr. Bob could “take us to school” with any chapter from his book What Your Fossils Can Tell You, and that’s just what he plans to do at the April 2nd meeting.

Specializing in the pathologies of fossilized bone and teeth is becoming increasingly popular among both amateur and professional paleontologists. The once overlooked field is now an area of study in its own right. In the past, pathological bones and teeth were treated as curious or oddities by the uniformed. Their scientific value is now fully recognized by all fossil enthusiasts. The study of pathological vertebrate fossils is often best accomplished through collaboration between a paleontologist and a medical scientist specializing in bone disorders.

Dr. Bob’s presentation will help get you along the way to recognizing the pathologies in some of the fossils you find. Don’t miss it.

Show and Tell

Yes, show and tell, just like in grade school. I’ve been doing some show and tell sessions at our monthly meetings when I see folks in the crowd who have brought in stuff to show off. Keep in mind that the April TBFC meeting is special for us. This is when we’ll get to meet all the new families who joined TBFC during FossilFest. This will be their first meeting and nothing would excite them more than to see some real fossils that TBFC members have actually recently found.

If you have something interesting that you’ve recently dug up, bring it and show it off. Just let me know at the meeting if you have something and I’ll bring you up to tell us a little about your find. If you have a fossil with pathologies, be sure to bring that in to go along with Dr. Bob’s presentation.

Peace River Adventure
April 16th – 17th 2016

The Peace River Adventure has turned into one of TBFC’s most popular outings. Years ago we worried we get enough participation to make the event worth the work, now we worry if we can accommodate everyone who wants to attend.

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 trip 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 almost two decades.

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 (with Mother Nature cooperating).

The Peace River Adventure will take new and seasoned fossil hunters into the beautiful Peace River near Zolfo Springs. An afternoon barbeque dinner, benefit auction, and campfires galore will follow the day of fossil hunting. On top of all of that, the Peace River Adventure boasts some of TBFC’s hottest selling t-shirts of the year. You can find registration forms in this edition of the Chronicles. Sign up early! This weekend trip only comes around once a year (with some folks arriving as early as Thursday). 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 let me know.

FossilFest 2016 People “Dig” FossilFest!

Wow… What a weekend. And once again, what a successful FossilFest! As always, the question I’m asked the most from folks during the show is, “How many?” Everybody wants to know how many people we put through the doors. Those figures are still being crunched as I write this, but I can tell I expect our gate numbers to be a little off from what we’ve had in the past.

As many of you know FossilFest has shared our event weekend with Repticon (the reptile show). Repticon was a good neighbor for FossilFest and one that offered a good deal of crossover for both shows. Repticon expanded their show this year to include the entire building FossilFest has used and the fairgrounds gave us the “boot” to another weekend. I only mention this here because many people have asked why we moved from our usual event date next door to Repticon. Truth is, we weren’t given a choice.

But we won’t let that change get us down, because we still had a great weekend. We had a full house of vendors (actually we were sold out months before the show). Thousands of people came to visit TBFC and “dig” into Florida’s prehistory. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

I’m happy to report that TBFC’s Paleo Store may have set a record again for sales (thanks to the fact we take credit cards). The silent auction had a great weekend, and we put well over 350 kids through the Fossil Mine and the Star Search game. Heck, we sold over 400 hot dogs (there’s lots of profit in hot dogs). Not to put too much emphasis on the money, but we earn the lion’s share of what keeps TBFC afloat over FossilFest weekend.

Most importantly, it looks like we had 28 new families sign up as members with TBFC at FossilFest. And in the coming weeks, we’ll probably get a few more in the mail. That in itself is a great success!

Everyone worked very hard, some for the entire weekend. Some for weeks and months leading up to the show. I’d like to thank TBFC’s Officers, Directors, and the members who volunteered to make the FossilFest the success that it was. We certainly couldn’t have done it without you. If you were one of the 120 volunteers during FossilFest, thank you. From the ticket takers, to the silent auction, club sales, set up, break down, security, and everything in-between, I thank you all.

I’d like to add here if I could, how much I enjoy FossilFest. It’s an exciting time for me and TBFC. There are newspaper reporters to talk with, television interviews on local news channels, and everyone seems to know TBFC’s show is coming to town. Even with all of the work involved, it’s a pleasure to see how we all come together to put on this large show. I’m proud to say that we’ve done a great job maintaining FossilFest’s educational outreach while earning money to operate on through the year. And we do our best to teach FossilFest attendees to hunt responsibly and to always keep an active permit with the Florida Museum of Natural History.

On top of all of this something very special occurred at FossilFest for me. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Suzanne Marek. I know you don’t know her, I didn’t either. She walked in on Sunday morning carrying a photograph of herself sitting on the bank of the Withlacoochee River. Still in her wetsuit, she holds the complete rib of a mastodon with an entire tusk from the animal laying across her lap. The photo was taken over 50 years ago.

Here’s what normally goes through my mind when I see a picture like this: First and foremost, can I identify any landmarks? The preservation of the tusk and rib are astonishing. The rib is compete, it’s never been tumbled in the river. There must be more of it there!

But not this time, not when I looked at this picture. Obviously this is a young woman, not Ben Waller, Jarl Malwin or any of the other men we’re accustomed to seeing photos of from the 60’s. There weren’t many men diving the rivers in the 60’s, much less women. Heck, they didn’t even make women’s wetsuits in the early 60’s. Suzanne Marek may have been one of the first of five or six women who were diving for fossils in Florida in the mid-1960s.

So what did I see when I saw the photo? Her smile. Her excitement. I recognized it from the people I’d hunted fossils with from here to the Badlands. It’s the smile you get when you find something great. The smile you have when you can hardly walk another step carrying a hundred pound plaster jacket out of the boonies and you finally set it in the back of the truck. It’s the smile I’ve seen on my wife, underwater, hidden behind her mask and regulator, when she dug up an entire fossil deer in the Rainbow River. I instantly recognized Suzanne Marek’s smile and was captivated by it. So much so that I’ve shared it with you on the cover of this edition.

She’s a historical figure in our hobby and she doesn’t even know it. But she came to FossilFest not to show off or buy fossils, she came to talk to us about fossil preservation. You see, fifty plus years later she still has on display in her home the same mastodon tusk and rib that she’s holding in the picture. And a tooth or two and vertebrae from the same animal.

You gotta love a great smile…
Mike Searle