Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. One of Florida's largest sinkholes, and the only officially designated state geological site, is Devil’s Millhopper State Geological Site a few miles northwest of Gainesville. Some estimates place its origin at more than 20,000 years ago. Fossils at the bottom attest to its prehistoric origin and use by early Native Americans. Only 500 feet across, Devil's Millhopper is steep-sided and 120 feet-deep; 232 wooden steps take visitors to the bottom, allowing a cross-section view of Florida's geological history and unique habitats created by the sink. Steep sides result in shading. Small springs create waterfalls that contribute to the beauty and coolness of the sinkhole, buffering it from the changed world above. Streams return water to the underground system. Devil's Millhopper provides habitat for the rare red-legged purse web spider and habitats for ferns, violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, and other plants characteristic of more northern hardwood forests. Many of these creatures are relics, left behind as the cooler climate of the Ice Ages warmed, and our current flora and fauna developed.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.