Florida is a popular place for fossil hunting because it has such a huge variety of fossils in the area, and they are also relatively easy to find as they are washed up in the many waterways across the state.
Most of the fossils in Florida are found near the surface of water – either on beaches, streams, creeks, or rivers, and therefore not encased in rock, which makes them both easy to find and well-preserved in color and detail.
Fossil hunters can easily unearth fossils in the loose sand or gravel which they are found and sift them out.
Dinosaur fossils are not a common occurrence in Florida, as dinosaurs became extinct while the lands of Florida were still submerged in water. This means that there are a wide range of marine fossils, such as shark teeth (including the giant Megalodon) whales, dugongs, and rays, as well as shells and coral agates.
Yet there are also fossils from large species of mammals and other vertebrates such as mammoths, giant sloths, mastodons, and ancient horses.
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Where to find fossils in florida?
Fossils can be found all across Florida, with popular fossil hunting spots including:
Honeymoon Island State Park
Fossil Hunting in Florida Peace River
The Peace River in Fort Meade is a great place to hunt for fossils in Florida. The entire Peace River runs for 106 miles and the trail passes through swamps and wilderness.
Fossils that can be found in this area are the Megalodon shark teeth, mastodon, mammoth, bison, whales, alligators, and other fossils from the Miocene and Pliocene era.
These fossils can often be found while wading in the water, and canoes can be rented to travel down the river. If you snorkel in the river, you can find fossils in the riverbed, and the deeper they are embedded the more likely they are to contain bones from large mammals.
Fossil Hunting in Bone Valley Florida
The Bone Valley formation is an ancient fossil bed in Florida. This region has a high amount of phosphate, meaning the fossils found here are preserved in incredible quality, color, and detail.
The fossils found in this geological area can be extremely rare and high in price due to the preservation.
Fossils which can be found in this area include species from subtropical climates which migrated to escape the ‘Ice Age’.
This area contains rare shark teeth variations such as Megalodon teeth, motley colored shark teeth, and heart-shaped ‘hubbel’ shark teeth.
Fossil Hunting in Venice Beach
Venice Beach is a popular hotspot in Florida with people but is also an area with an abundance of fossilized shark teeth.
The waves are constantly bringing teeth to the beach from the boneyard just beyond. If you see black dots in the sand while walking along the beach, there is likely to be shark teeth in this area.
You can also scuba dive out to the boneyard to select rarer specimens, including Megalodon teeth. There are also whale jaws and dugong ribs in this area to collect.
Fossil Hunting in Shell Creek
Creeks are a wonderful place to find fossils, as waterbeds tend to hold many fossils that can be found through a quick sift just below the surface.
This area has many fossils including shark teeth, prehistoric horse fossils, ancient alligators, and ancient armadillos called Glypotherium.
Fossil Hunting in Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park is the best place in Florida to find agatized coral, which is the state stone of Florida. It is best to look along the Northwest beach for a good chance to find this beautiful stone.
Fossil Hunting in North Florida
North Florida has many freshwater creeks, and creeks are an amazing place to find fossils. Common fossils in North Florida include shark teeth and ray teeth.
Where Can You Find Shark Teeth in Florida?
Shark teeth can be found in many areas near to water across Florida, including:
Honeymoon Island State Park
Caspersen Beach, Venice Island
Casey Key, along the Gulf Coast
Manasota Key, on the West Coast
Amelia Island, on the East Coast
Mickler’s Landing Beach, on the East Coast
Palm Beach Island
Jupiter Beach, Palm Beach
Boca Raton, Palm Beach
Singer Island, Palm Beach
St. Augustine Beach, on Anastasia Island
Jacksonville, on the Atlantic Coast
What Teeth Can You Find in Florida?
What Dinosaur Fossils Have Been Found in Florida?
The Florida Museum has preserved around 22,000 fossils from all over Florida, including reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish. 149,467 specimens of invertebrate fossils including arthropods, molluscs, and corals, have been curated by the Florida Museum of Natural History.
The oldest fossil in Florida is a 100-million-year-old sea turtle fossil. This fossil is from the Mesozoic era, or the age of the dinosaurs. As Florida was covered in water during the age of the dinosaurs, there are not dinosaur fossils on the land, yet there are fossils from many other creatures from this time period.
Fossils found across Florida range from 45-million-year-old shells to bones and teeth from animals who travelled to Florida during the ‘Ice Age’.
Fossils which have been found in Florida include:
Eupatagus (sea urchin fossil)
Bones and teeth from saber-tooth tigers
Fossilized giant ground sloths
Fossils from cave bears
Prehistoric horse fossils
Fossils from Mastodons
Gomphotherium fossils (an ancestor of elephants)
Fossils from feline ancestors such as the Barbourofelis and Megantereon
What Is the Fossil Collection Law in Florida?
To legally collect fossils in Florida, such as vertebrate fossils, you will need a permit. These cost $5 and can be obtained from the Florida Museum of Natural History. You do not need a permit, however, to collect fossilized shark teeth, plants, or shells.