One of the best vertebrate fossil collecting rivers
in Florida. Easy access. Shallow most of the year.
Great for screen-washing, snorkeling or diving.
Native Americans called the Peace River
"Talakchopcohatchee," which means "River of
Peas." Somewhere along the way, white settlers
changed it to Peace River. Today, 67 miles of
the river are a designated canoe trail, beginning
at the U.S. Highway 98 bridge just east of Fort
Meade and ending downstream at State Road 70
west of Arcadia. There are dozens of places
along the river to launch a canoe or small boat.
So far, the Queen of Florida fossil hunting on
our expeditions - hands down - is Debbie "Flipper"
Burdette. The first day of one of our expeditions,
she was snorkeling the Peace River in Polk County
and pulled up a complete mammoth tooth. The
following day, she wanted to go again. What does
she do? She finds a complete mastodon tooth.
Then, she heads north to the Carolinas, and in
a phosphate mine, finds a six inch extinct
giant white shark tooth. The following year,
she joins us again in the Peace River in Hardee
County, and finds another mammoth tooth. But
before you discount her as just being lucky, you
would do well to observe how she collects. Like
anyone who is successful at what they do, she is
focused and persistent. She thinks about important
things like "Where would I hide if I was a mammoth
tooth?" and "I'm glad I brought the guide an extra
peanut butter and jelly sandwich."4>
Nate Miller found this mammoth tooth in the
Peace River, Polk County, Florida. Not a man of
many words, Nate did manage to elicit a fairly audible
Mike and Pam Sampognaro, along with their
children Mary Margaret and Michael John, traveled
with us to the Peace River in Hardee County. Within
the first hour of screen-washing in shallow water,
they scooped up about 1/4th of a mammoth tooth.
Later, their shovel hit something that sounded like
metal against china. They immediately stopped
digging and worked their hands down through the
sand, pulling out an entire mammoth tooth, with
the replacement plates attached. Later in the day,
part of the lower jaw was discovered, as well as
what appeared to be a Marion spear tip. At the
end of the day, everyone was getting ready to
leave when Mike shouted, "Just one more scoop!"
Lo and behold, he locates another mammoth tooth!
A photo and Isolated Finds Form will be sent to
the Florida State Bureau of Archaeology, notifying
them of the Marion point. The last two photos are
of a mammoth foot bone uncovered at "the site a few
Trips are by reservation, beginning at 9am until 3pm. We are located in the Ft Myers area, but conduct expeditions in areas that are a reasonable driving distance from Tampa, St Pete, Orlando, Sarasota, Naples or Ft Lauderdale.
For prices and reservations, call (239)368-3252.
E-mail address is