A fossil is created when very specific circumstances occur. An animal fossil begins forming when an animal dies, and the remains of the animal are buried in sediment. As the animal decomposes, the hard structures such as bone and horn are left behind. The sediment they are buried in is covered by more sediment and compressed. Eventually it becomes stone. Over time, the original animal parts are replaced by the different minerals in the stone. Plant fossils are made differently. When part of a plant falls into sediment, it makes an impression. As the sediment hardens and the plant decomposes, minerals fill the impression. Most fossils are found when they are revealed by wind and water erosion. In Florida, many are found in phosphate mines along the Peace River.
Florida has changed many times in the millions of years that plants, and animals have been here. It has been covered with water so deep that only a few pieces of land poked up as islands, and other times the coastline had been 300 miles further out than it is today. Many large animals lived in Florida in the past. These animals became extinct, but fossils of these bones and teeth are still there for us to learn from. Shark’s teeth are some of the most common fossils found in Florida. You can find them on the beach, in the ocean, and even in rivers.
Visit us at Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum to see local fossils on display found along the Peace River Basin and the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, Florida with many thanks to our donors, Bob “Flash” Cangiamila and Dian McKeithan–Miller.