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Bird & Reptile Fossils
The gator is a very common Florida fossil, both teeth and dermal scutes. These are round or rectangular plates with a vertical ridge and are found under the skin of the gator. They form parallel ridges along the animal’s back. Fossil crocodile scutes are similar but without the distinctive ridge.
There are about 267 species of fossil birds known from Florida. These fossils are sometimes difficult to identify, since many are quite similar. Since many bird bones are more fragile than most other bones, it is somewhat rare to find them as fossils. The largest was the huge Titanis walleri, a type of flightless crane, whose remains have been found in the Santa Fe River in Gilchrist County.
Note: bird identification is difficult due to the similarity of bones. We use Miles Gilbert, Avian Osteology, Cohen & Serjeantson, A Manual for the identification of Bird Bones from Archaeological Sites, and Stanley Olsen, Osteology for the Archaeologist. We do the best we can and apologize for any errors.
There were many types of turtles during the Pleistocene period, snappers, sea turtles, soft-shelled turtles, box turtles, and giant land tortoises. The latter had many small plates and spurs on their legs and along their bodies and necks. These vary in size greatly and may be pointed or nearly flat. The shell of soft-shelled turtles is easy to identify because it has many small dimples which makes it look like a peanut shell.