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digit

Lee Creek finds from Aurora Fossil Museum gravel piles

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digit

As part of our recent tour through the Carolinas, Tammy and I stopped for a bit at the Aurora Fossil Museum (Aurora, NC) to walk through the museum itself as well as to have fun playing in the "sandbox" across the street. The local phosphate mine dumps fine gravel from the mining process in a big pile (two, actually) across from the museum so visitors can hunt for fossils in the fossil-rich gravel without having to deal with the liability issues of coming to the open-pit phosphate mine itself. I'm not quite sure if the fossiliferous gravel represents the Pungo River Marl (Lower Miocene), the Yorktown (Early Pliocene), or a mixture of these and other formations at the mine so the stratigraphy is muddled and likely impossible to determine from this off-site location.

 

We were in luck in that the gravel piles were "turned" that morning exposing fresh material at the surface. It had also rained persistently for several days so the piles were a bit of a sticky mess. I think this made it all the more fun for the young fossil hunters we met on the piles. I was only interested in collecting some of the finer material to look through back home for micro-fossils and so we made use of our sifting screens to remove the larger shark teeth helping the kids to increase their finds.

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/87495-epic-carolinas-roadtrip/&do=findComment&comment=950166

 

I've been busy since returning from this trip but I did manage to wash the sticky silt from the Lee Creek micro-matrix we collected from the piles and dry and store it for later perusal. I had to try a sample of this to gauge the fossil density and get an idea of what was hiding in there as this was a novel micro-matrix source for me (though it has been offered several times on this forum). I've been quite impressed with the density and diversity of mostly tiny shark teeth and other items I'm used to seeing in marine-based micro-matrix. There are some novel species that I'm not used to seeing in micro-matrix from South Florida. In particular, these nice little shark teeth with the cool side cusps were a welcome surprise. They are roughly 3 mm across the root and about 4 mm high. As these popped out of the first small sample that I picked through, I'm guessing these are quite common and well known by the folks familiar with this material. I'm hoping @powelli1 or @sixgill pete or @Al Dente might be able to provide an ID from the image below.

 

2018-08-22 18-08-44.jpg

 

Even more interesting that the shark teeth was what appears to be a claw core that also appeared in this small sampling of the micro-matrix. I don't know my claw cores very well--unless it is an enormous ground sloth core from Florida (still high in my Florida fossil bucket list). ;) I don't even know enough to know if this would be from a bird, reptile, or mammal but I'm sure this forum will come to my aid and offer some clues to what I've found. In particular, @Auspex should be able to quickly made an avian/non-avian determination. As a size reference, this item is about 8.5 mm in overall length and around 4 mm at its widest width.

 

2018-08-22 18-05-51.jpg

 

Looking forward to another bit of forum-based education tailored to the items that have recently encountered.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

 

 

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goatinformationist

Sounds like you had a great time and came home with some simply delicious fossils.  Keep up the good work and keep us in the loop.

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Auspex
44 minutes ago, digit said:

what appears to be a claw core

The only thing preventing me from suggesting Muscovy Duck is that it is 50% too short. Perhaps a much smaller fowl?

It is unlike any turtle or lizard claw I have seen, so....

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digit

Nice. So likely avian then. I wonder if there is a taxa list for Lee Creek somewhere?

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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sixgill pete

Ken, can I see a picture of the other side of the tooth on the right please. I believe it may be Scyliorhinidae. The other tooth, left side looks like a species of sand tiger.

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digit

I'll pull the teeth out again and setup the photo gear tomorrow and get some photos from the other side. If I remember correctly, Aurora has a smaller species of sand tiger that is different from the modern one we tend to find here in South Florida.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Pagurus

 

1 hour ago, digit said:

Nice. So likely avian then. I wonder if there is a taxa list for Lee Creek somewhere?

 

Here's a 15 MB PDF file with an awful lot of detailed information on the fauna of the Lee Creek Mine. An astonishing degree of detail, really:

 

Geology and Paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina, III
Ray, Clayton E.; Bohaska, David J. , Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology

 

I didn't see a photo of your bird claw, but you might find a hint in the section, "MIOCENE AND PLIOCENE BIRDS FROM THE LEE CREEK MINE, NORTH CAROLINA, by Storrs L. Olson and Pamela C. Rasmussen"  (page 233 and following).

 

ABSTRACT
An account is given of a collection of over 10,000 fossils representing at least 112 species of birds from middle Miocene
(Pungo River Formation) and early Pliocene (Yorktown Formation) deposits exposed during phosphate mining in the Lee
Creek Mine, near Aurora, Beaufort County, North Carolina.
Relatively few of these species are derived from the Pungo River Formation, as determined partly by similarity to
contemporaneous species from the Calvert Formation of Maryland and Virginia. The tremendous avifauna now known
from the Yorktown Formation consists of nearly 100 species, including three species of loons, two grebes, five
albatrosses, at least 16 shearwaters and petrels, one pelican, two pseudodontorns (horizon less certain), three gannets,
two cormorants, at least nine auks and puffins (probably 11 or more), one skua, three jaegers, five gulls, two terns, and 20
species of ducks, geese, and swans. ...

 

 

Mike
 

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digit

Great info, Mike! Thanks for the information.

 

Here are the two little shark teeth from both sides.    

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

2018-08-23 15-37-38.jpg     2018-08-22 18-08-44.jpg

 

 

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sixgill pete

Ken, yes the smaller tooth on the right is Pachyscylium sp. A common catshark from Le Creek. But an uncommon tooth. See this posy by Al Dente .....  

 

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digit

Nice! Thanks for the confirmation and the link to Al Dente's post.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Coco

@MarcoSr could help you too.

 

Coco

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MarcoSr
On 8/22/2018 at 7:41 PM, digit said:

Nice. So likely avian then. I wonder if there is a taxa list for Lee Creek somewhere?

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

3 hours ago, Coco said:

@MarcoSr could help you too.

 

Coco

 

Ken

 

elasmo.com has a tab for Lee Creek on the home page which gets to a lot of material on Lee Creek sharks, rays and bony fish.  Plus as mentioned above there are four major publications on the "Geology and Paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina" I through IV that are available on-line through the Smithsonian libraries and other sites.

 

Marco Sr.

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digit

Great info. Thanks! I'm processing some micro-matrix we collected from Merritt Island so I can donate the finds to the FLMNH. I've got my cache of Lee Creek micro-matrix saved for a rainy day. Will enjoy getting into that and seeing what novelties that don't occur in Florida turn up in that micro-matrix.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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