This weekend we ventured to Gainesville, Florida, to spend the day fossil hunting in a creek with Mudslinger Tours. We uncovered lots of shark teeth, stingray mouthplates and various other small fossils and rocks with fossil imprints. My son (and everyone on the tour) was on the hunt for a giant Megalodan tooth. While none were found on this trip, we certainly didn’t leave empty-handed. We learned a lot about fossils and collected lots of little treasures to take home.
A Florida Fossil Hunting Adventure
We booked a half-day tour with Mudslinger Tours, which runs from 9AM to 1PM. Mudslingers was the most affordable tour I found when looking for fossil hunting adventures, at $40 for adults and kids 10 and under are free! So I teamed up with fellow fossil fan and mom blogger That Nerdy Mom, grabbed the kids and headed to G’ville to see what fun we could dig up.
First stop is Mudslinger Tour headquarters, where you’ll meet up with your guide and get your fossil hunting supplies. The business is run out of their home, so parking is very limited, and they suggest you carpool if possible. Also, you can use the bathroom if needed as long as you are respectful of their property and ok with the friendly dogs that will try and enthusiastically greet you when you enter.
We noticed several people in our group had brought their own equipment, but Mudslingers provides you with a sifter and digging tool so it’s not necessary. The things you should bring with you are water, sunscreen, bug spray, a change of clothes, water shoes/boots and snack if think you’ll get hungry. If you do the full day tour, they do break for lunch. They also will give you a little baggie to put your finds in, but it’s easier to toss them in if you have a little container. I found it got a little tedious pulling the baggie in and out of my pocket when I kept finding something with every scoop of mud.
Let the Hunt Begin!
Your tour will start with a quick introduction to the types of fossils you will find. Millions of years ago, Florida was all underwater, which is why you can find shark teeth in a land-locked city like Gainesville. They explained that the creek we would be searching on was one of the more shallow areas, so it was a shark nursery, resulting in a lot of smaller teeth, though you can also still find bigger ones! Sharks would have their young in the shallow areas, and when the baby sharks grew up they would move to deeper regions.
The creek is just a short walk down the road and through a forest trail. It’s easy to navigate and the whole area has great tree coverage to keep that Florida sun out. I was really happy to see we wouldn’t be baking in the sun. It was actually quite nice on the creek with the shade and cool, clear water. One thing that is missing is a dry place to sit if you want to take a break, so bring a little waterproof mat if you want to rest. I ended up using the tinfoil I’d wrapped my sandwich in, because after an hour of intense squatting, digging and sifting, I needed a break!
You have to follow the rules to keep the creek in good condition, so there’s no digging in the banks allowed. You can only dig where there is water, and they suggest digging a hole up to your elbows if you want to find the bigger stuff, so we squatted down and started digging and digging…and digging!
You can also easily find little shark teeth on the surface just by looking through the little rubble piles, so we collected a lot of those when we weren’t digging a big hole. You’ll spend a lot of time squatting, because the creek bed is rough on your knees. If we go again, I’m bringing knee pads!
Shark Teeth and Fossil Finds
At first, I was a bit frustrated because I wasn’t finding much, but as soon as our guide suggested I dig my hole a little closer to the side, I found a really good tooth and it kept me going. Pretty soon I was digging out teeth and other small things with every scoop of sand. By the end of the day, we had all found a lot of teeth and fossils, more than I’d ever found at once when hunting at the beach!
If you like shark tooth hunting and fossils, you will totally enjoy this tour. My son loved it and is already bugging me about doing it again and going on a private tour where they take you to a different (and better!) part of the creek. The creek is long and the tour groups are small, so you feel like it’s a private tour once you get down there either way.
You can contact them through their Mudslinger Tours Facebook page to set up a tour and get more info. They also have a website, but it doesn’t really have much info, so I suggest just going through their Facebook page. They responded right away to my questions, and it was really easy to book our tour.
We are already looking forward to our next fossil hunting adventure!