Collectors will find that this collection is an excellent representation of Fossil teeth. Containing a Camel tooth, a Tapir tooth, a Manatee tooth and a Deer tooth it represents an example of complete fossil teeth. All teeth have full caps and most of the roots.
There were many types of camels in Florida, including the twelve foot high giraffe camel, but the two most common were the Hemiauchenia which was tall and slender and lived on the grasslands, and the Palaeolama which was shorter and heavier and which more closely resembled the Peruvian llama of today. Some large camel teeth are almost identical to bison teeth, but a bison tooth often has a small vertical pillar on the side between the sections which a camel never has.
The white tailed deer was very abundant during the Pleistocene period and often grew somewhat larger than it does today. The astragalus is a small bone near the calcaneus, or heel bone. It is nearly identical to the camel and bison astragalus except much smaller.
The ancestors of the manatee were one of the first fossil animals in Florida, dating back about 45 million years. The modern manatee has been in Florida about 3 million years. Their teeth are not common throughout the state, but where they do occur they are often abundant. Many are worn down flat and then naturally fall out and are replaced by new ones. That is why they are called “spit teeth.” This same process happened with the mammoths and mastodons also.
The tapir is a semi-aquatic animal with a long, flexible nose which is very agile and mobile, a little bit like an elephant trunk, though much shorter. A very large lower tapir tooth closely resembles a small mastodon tooth and they are sometimes confused. Tapirs still live in South America and Malaysia. At one time they were very abundant in Florida.