Aurora Fossil Museum

This afternoon I presented a lecture on squalodont whales at the Aurora Fossil Museum, as part of the Aurora Fossil Festival. I was impressed with how the town turns out for this event; there was a parade, and better than 100 vendors’ booths set up all over town, selling all types of food and other items (I just finished my crabcake sandwich bought from one of the booths.)

Aurora sits next to the Lee Creek Mine, which is the source of most of the specimens in the museum. (I had an earlier post about the Lee Creek Mine book recently published by VMNH.) There is an impressive collection of sharks’ teeth from both the Miocene Pungo River Formaion and the Pliocene Yorktown Formation, such as the associated Carcharocles megalodon dentition shown here:

Some other interesting specimens: pathological sharks’ teeth…

… a walrus skull (probably Pleistocene in age)…

… and an unidentified toothed whale from South Carolina (I think this might be a kentriodontid):

There are numerous other shark and whale remains, as well as seal, fish, and reptile bones, and mollusk shells, from the mine. All in all a nice collection, and well worth the visit.

In a day or two I’ll do a post about my lecture topic.

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2 Responses to Aurora Fossil Museum

  1. Doug says:

    Interesting looking whale. What were kentriodontids exactly? And the walrus skull looks like one I saw (in a picture off coarse) of an ice age walrus skull from Maine.

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Kentriodontids are an extinct family of toothed whales that are generally thought to be close (perhaps even a sister taxon) to the Delphinidae (the modern dolphins). One of their features is that they have short thick tooth crowns with a tight hook at the tip.

    They’re found worldwide. On the Atlantic coast they show up in the lower part of the Calvert Formation, are are found at least into the Choptank Formation. The early ones are all quite small, but by the middle Miocene there are some pretty big species (like Hadrodelphis and Macrokentriodon) that have skulls about 1 m in length.

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