ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Two St. Petersburg teachers are credited for the discovery of “rare Ice Age fossils” they uncovered while diving in local waters, according to a media release from the Admiral Farragut Academy.
Teachers Rick Cochrane and Henry Sadler were “thrilled” to discover a jaw bone and tusks from Mastodons that once inhabited North and Central America during the late Miocene or late Pliocene periods until their extinction about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago.
“Mastodon fossil remains are discovered periodically, but entire [jaw bones], especially tusks that are this complete, are extremely rare,” the academy said.
“We spend years looking for things like this,” Sadler said. “Many fossil hunters go their whole lives without so much as a glimpse of a mastodon tooth, let alone an entire jaw.”
However, this isn’t the duo’s first scientifically significant contribution to the community. Sadler and Cochrane have each donated fossils to the Florida Museum of Natural History in the past. In addition to their latest discovery, the pair have discovered a Mammoth mandible and massive Mammoth leg bone that they display in their classrooms to use as teaching aids.
“The best part of collecting fossils is sharing them with enthusiastic students, and it’s like reliving the discovery each time,” Cochrane said. “More importantly, I find the wow factor of such a large fossil to be so impactful to my students at Admiral Farragut Academy.”
Cochrane said a significant amount of research and planning goes into finding the rare fossils, “yet when we finally make a big discovery, it’s still a shock, often leaving us in disbelief for a period of time,” he said.