Southwest Florida Fossil Society

"To Inform and Educate"
THE PURPOSE OF THE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA FOSSIL SOCIETY, INC.
is to promote and foster the science of paleontology through the collection, identification and preservation of fossil remains and providing a regional forum for education, training and experience in the scientific field.
Speaker for September 8 th meeting: Sarasota County Archaeologist Steve Koski

Our Local Ecological and Archaeological Treasures: Warm Mineral Springs and Little Salt Spring


How do we know what we know about Florida’s earliest landscapes and inhabitance? Evidence is elusive and scattered throughout the state and no one site contains a complete record. Some locations, such as sinkholes and other karstic features are more favorable than other locations for finding such evidence. Why? With a brief overview of the evidence, underwater archaeologist Steve Koski will present findings from two notable sites he is most familiar with, Warm Mineral Springs and Little Salt Spring. What do these and other sites tell us about the lifeways of Florida’s earliest inhabitants and the landscape they encountered?

Warm Mineral Springs (8SO19) and Little Salt Spring (8SO18) are two significant archaeological sites in south Sarasota County in the city of North Port, Florida. Both sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Geologically speaking, they are cenotes or sinkholes—karst features that have formed over tens of thousands of years from the dissolution of marine limestone derived from carbonate sea floors that preceded the emergence of the Florida Peninsula.

During periods of drier climate and lower water table, these cenotes served as oases in a more arid landscape, providing suitable habitat for a wide range of plants and animals and provided predictable sources of food and fresh water for Florida’s earliest people. Evidence of these early human activities in and around sinkholes became incorporated in the sediments and preserved in their anoxic water as both world sea level and the fresh-water table underlying the Florida Peninsula rose at the end of the last ice age. A discussion, illustrated through a power point presentation will discuss the evidence found at these two sites, with a focus on Little Salt Spring.

Steve Koski currently serves as Sarasota County Archaeologist, charged with the administration of the County’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. He is an underwater archaeologist who specialized in underwater prehistoric sites. He received his BA in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and completed graduate studies in an MA program at Arizona State University. His research interests include the early prehistory of Florida, coastal adaptations, and Paleoindian and Archaic period settlement and subsistence systems. Mr. Koski worked as an assistant underwater archeologist at Warm Mineral Springs (1986 – 1989) and is the former Research Associate at Little Salt Spring for the University of Miami (2004 – 2013), where he has worked with the director of research, Associate Professor Emeritus Dr. John Gifford since 1992.



FOSSIL (Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM with Informal Learners) is a project funded by the National Science Foundation and headquartered at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. FOSSIL is developing a national community that includes amateur and professional paleontologists; our research indicates that more than 60 amateur fossil clubs and societies exist in the USA, but they are not well coordinated in their activities. Overarching goals of the FOSSIL Project include enhanced collaborations between amateurs and professionals, knowledge-building about paleontology, access to resources for lifelong learning, and development of a viable learning community focused on topics such as collections (including digitization), evolution, and K-12 outreach. In addition to more traditional means, such as our newsletter (available at www.myfossil.org/newsletters/), FOSSIL is developing an interactive online community (www.myFOSSIL.org) and using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to foster communication and interactions, and thus promoting the concept of 'social paleontology.' "
 
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