ARCADIA, Fla. (WFLA) — A fossil hunter uncovered a rare specimen while diving in a southwest Florida river: a fully-intact mammoth jaw bone.
On Tuesday, John Kreatsoulas – known as Captain John – cruised down the Peace River near Arcadia, scouting locations for his charter tours.
The area is teeming with fossils left behind by ancient animals. Their bones and teeth lay in the muck beneath the Peace River’s tannic waters, making it the perfect spot for fossil hunters to uncover ancient treasures.
During Tuesday’s dive, Kreatsoulas reached for what he thought was a log.
“I grabbed onto it just to hold on for a second, and I realized, ‘Wait for a second, that’s not a tree; that was a mammoth jaw,’” Kreatsoulas told NBC affiliate WBBH.
As soon as he realized what he was holding, he gleefully returned to his friend waiting at the surface.
“I grabbed him by the leg, I point at it,” Kreatsoulas said. “And he probably couldn’t hear a thing I’m staying because you can’t hear it through the regulator, but I’m like, ‘A Mammoth jaw! A Mammoth jaw’!”
Kreatsoulas is bringing the jaw to Tampa, where it will be restored and have its molars reattached. The specimen will be registered with the State of Florida and officials could take custody of it, if necessary, but Kreatsoulas hopes they will let him keep it.
If so, the giant fossil will be in good company – Kreatsoulas intends to display his “mammoth” of a find in his living room with the rest of his sprawling collection.