The Peace River is a popular destination for fossil hunters, who dig and sift the river gravel for fossilized sharks’ teeth and prehistoric mammal bones.
Caryn “Ryn” Johnson, who guides fossil-hunting expeditions in and around the Peace River and its tributaries, has made notable finds important to collections at the Museum of Natural History at University of Florida.
Ryn donated a molar from the peccary Mylohyus, which is a rare Peace River find. The UF collection only has three Mylohyus specimens from the Peace River area, compared to 39 tapir and 425 horse.
She also donated a juvenile tapir tooth and rare nurse shark tooth.
When Ryn found the nurse shark tooth, she wrote to Dr. Richard C. Hulbert Jr.—vertebrate paleontology collections manager at the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History—for help with the identification.
He responded, “This is a relatively rare find, so congratulations are in order. It is a tooth of an extinct species of the nurse shark family, relatively ancient, dating back to the Jurassic. Our museum’s collection of Florida fossils only has a few specimens of this enigmatic species, and none from the Peace River. That shows you how rare it is.”