TBFC Logo Mammoth

President's Message

FossilFest weekend is something we all look forward to.  Sometimes reality gets in the way though.  I can tell you that Lou Villei and his longtime companion Shirley Gissy were both looking forward to FossilFest, and then the Peace River Adventure.  Lou is TBFC’s assistant field trip director working closely with Fred Hendershot to put together all the fossil hunts you get to go on through the year.  Shirley was his hunting partner and girlfriend.

Lou told us in about February that Shirley had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  They were looking forward to attending FossilFest and Shirley said she was hoping to live long enough to enjoy the Peace River Adventure.  Thursday night before FossilFest set-up, Shirley lost her battle.

I was surprised to see Lou actually show up to FossilFest set-up on Friday.  He was in as good of spirits as could be expected.  He talked with each of us awhile about Shirley and arranged her display case before he left.  And he showed up for a while on Saturday at FossilFest too.

Our hearts go out to Lou and the family and friends of Shirley Gissy.  Take the time to talk to Lou when you see him at the next meeting or event.  He needs his friends right now and I can tell you that his TBFC family is important to him.  Cards and well-wishes can be sent to Lou Villei at the TBFC address found on the back cover of the Chronicles.

We’ll remember Shirley as we move forward…

People “Dig” FossilFest!

Wow…  What a weekend.  And once again, what a successful FossilFest!  I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  Despite poor coverage from the newspapers, we did have great coverage on both the radio and television and it sure brought in a great crowd.

We have two major goals each year at FossilFest; earn funds to operate TBFC through the year, and to teach the public about Florida’s prehistory and reach out to new members.  We did both.  And it looks like we had ____ new families sign up as members with TBFC at FossilFest.  That itself is a great success!

Everyone worked very hard, some for the entire weekend (TBFC Director Joseph Branin and  Austin Morgan spent about 60 straight hours at FossilFest).  I’d like to thank TBFC’s Officers, Directors, and 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 130 plus volunteers during the show, thank you.  From the admissions, to the silent auction, club sales, kids mine, set up, break down, security, and everything in-between, I thank you all.

But don’t sit down to rest; TBFC’s fossil season isn’t over yet…

April 5th Meeting
Dr. Aaron Wood, Ph.D
Seacows of the Panama Canal Project

In 2011, members of the Panama Canal Project - Partnerships for International Research and Education PCP/PIRE team discovered and excavated the largest and most complete fossil mammal yet discovered from the Panama Canal: an extinct species of fossil dugong or sea cow.  The specimen is estimated to be 20 million years old (earliest Miocene) and consists of a skull, lower jaw, and the first half of the vertebral column.  The Panama dugong is still being extracted from the rock in which it was preserved, but enough rock has been removed to show the unique morphology of the back of the skull and neck.  This morphology suggests the Panama dugong had a very specialized feeding strategy: pit digging for sea grass roots and rhizomes.  Dr. Wood will provide an introduction into what is know about ancient communities of dugongs in the Caribbean and Pacific regions and then discuss how the Panama dugong fits into this story.

Peace River Adventure
April 26th – 27th

With FossilFest hardly behind us we move directly into TBFC’s second largest event of the year.  With no time for a sigh of relief, the Peace River Adventure is right around the corner.

The Peace River Adventure has turned into 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 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 more than a decade.

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 this 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 want to again 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
President, TBFC