Dinosaurs have been a focus of fascination for many of us during our lifetimes. We always look below our feet and wonder what is hiding under the many yards of dirt and stone. The question is, are there dinosaur bones in South Florida under the waters of the Everglades just waiting to be discovered? Unfortunately, no.
How can this be? We have the american alligator which is a living dinosaur, right?
Although alligators are most likely the closest living creature that resemble the dinosaur, they are only 37 million years old, which surprisingly does not reach far enough back in history to the time of the dinosaurs. 37 million years ago all of Florida was underwater and not able to support those well known dino species such as the t-rex or brontosaurus.
One thing we do have is an abundance of fossils indicating that we had quite a mix of ancient wildlife including the mastodon, mammoth, sloths, jaguars, saber cats, giant armadillos and even camels. These would be found in the Pleistocene era. The large bodies of water at the time would have been stocked with the sea giants, Great White Shark, Megalodon, and huge crocodiles and alligators.
With the coming of the Eocene Era we see the first fossils in Florida. The state was covered by the sea and we can find the invertebrates, whales and Basilosaurus. During the Miocene era the state became dry again and the coral reefs were starting to form down in the Florida Keys, moving on to the Pliocene era we see the dugongs, porpoises, sharks in the waters and dogs, camels and elephants on land. This brings us back to the aforementioned Pleistocene era, the richest time period for finding evidence of our wildlife past.
As we stand in the Everglades today we can only imagine the constantly, if slow, changing landscapes and wildlife that lived in this space and whose fossil evidence is just beneath our feet.