Extinct elephant fossils discovered in Levy County

The bones are believed to be five to six million-years-old.
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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LEVY COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) - Paleontologists in North Central Florida discovered extinct elephant fossils in at a dig site in Levy County.

A team of paleontologists from the Florida Museum of Natural History, volunteers, and University of Florida students discovered fossils at the Montbrook fossil site after working for a year.

Jonathan Bloch is the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the museum. He said the area was once a river, and while he’s discovered many small fossils, he’s excited for something bigger.

“We’ve been coming across skeletons of an extinct elephant called a gomphothere,” said Bloch. “It’s different than modern elephants in that it has four tusks, two upper tusks, two lower tusks.”

Bloch thinks the bones are five to six million-years-old.

“It’s extremely exciting for us, this doesn’t happen very often. This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, it’s been really fun to be part of it,” said Bloch.

The crew locked the fossils in plaster jackets and lifted it onto a loading truck. The skeletons will go through a cleaning and stabilizing process before they are ready to be studied.

A student from UF was grateful for this opportunity to get involved. She dreamed of becoming a paleontologist after visiting museums as a child.

“I was just so inspired every time I went there,” said Samantha Zbinden. “Now I’m out here doing that every single day.”

Anyone interested in participating in future digs can find more information here.

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