ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A teacher from Pinellas County came across quite the find while out at Peace River in Arcadia.
Admiral Farragut Academy says its teacher Henry Saddler stumbled across a fully intact mammoth bone.
The school says Saddler isn't just a teacher, but also an amateur paleontologist.
Saddler says he was diving with his friend Derek Demeter, who is the Planetarium Director of the Seminole State College, and were about to give up when they found it.
"We thought ‘why don’t we head upriver a bit and see if there’s anything there,’” he said.
Then, about ten minutes into the dive, Sadler says he was pulling himself past a fallen tree when he put his hand on the fossil.
The bone is a femur from a Columbian Mammoth, one of the largest species of mammoths, and dates around 100,000 years old, according to Admiral Farragut Academy.
Saddler says as soon as he put his hand on it, he knew it was a bone.
Saddler and Demeter then worked together to dig out the 60-pound mammoth femur.
The school says this wasn't the first time Saddler has found a piece of a mammoth in that area. He has also found mammoth leg joints, jawbones, teeth, vertebrae, parts of a tusk, and even other leg bones he believes are from the same animal. This one, however, does happen to be the most intact one he has found.
The bone is now on display in his classroom with a bunch of other fossils he's found.
“The kids were pretty excited,” he said. “Especially when I let one of them try to hold it and they were weighed down. It’s bigger than some of them, especially the kindergarteners.”
In Florida, people who want to collect vertebrate fossils from state land need a permit, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
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