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Vertebrate Fossils That Can Be Found at Aurora, North Carolina - Whale, Porpoise, Crocodile, etc...

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Aurora Collecting Location Page:
PCS Mine, NC



Fossils that can be found at Aurora, NC



Printable Identification Fossil Sheets for Vertebrates and Invertebrates of Aurora, NC



View Collecting Trip Reports from the Aurora, NC



Sperm Whale Gallery
Fossil Facts and Information



Squalodon Gallery
Facts and Information about the Miocene Shark Toothed Whale



Eurhinodelphis Gallery
The Long-Snouted Dolphin







To View the Vertebrate Fossils from North Carolina, Either use this dropdown menu to select the animal or scroll down and browse.




Marine Mammals

Cetacea order
(Whales)


Odontocete sub-order
Toothed Whales
(Including Dolphins and Porpoises)


Squalodonotidea Family
Shark Toothed Whales

These are a type of primitive toothed whales.

For more information about squalodons, please take a look at the Squalodon Gallery.

Squalodons are less common than the more modern looking whales found here.
Squalodon Teeth
This tooth with a broken root is probably a molar.

Formation:
  • ?Pungo River
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~1" (25mm)
    Date:
  • October 2004 TRIP
  • This is another molar with a broken root.

    Formation:
  • ?Pungo River
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~1 1/16" (27mm)
    Date:
  • May 2003 TRIP
  • This is a squalodon incisor. Unfortunately the tip and root are broken.

    Formation:
  • Pungo River
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~1 1/16" (27mm)
    Date:
  • March 2007 TRIP
  • Squalodon Jaw fragment
    This is a small jaw section from a Squalodon. Notice the large tooth socket.

    Formation:
  • Pungo River
    Age:
  • Miocene: 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~3" (76 mm)
    Date:
  • Sept. 2008 TRIP


  • Physeteridae Family
    Sperm Whales
    (Sperm, Pygmy Sperm, and Dwarf Sperm Whales)

    For more information on Sperm Whales, go to the Sperm Whale Gallery

    ? sp.
    Sperm whale teeth

    The teeth of Sperm whales have a huge variation with respect to one another. Because of this, identifying them to a species is next to impossible without an associated skull.
    These teeth are easy to identify. Their roots are hollow at the base, and when worn, show a pattern of enamel rings running up the tooth.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~3.25" (83 mm)
  • Here is a much larger Sperm Whale tooth. Notice the shape variation from the ones above and below. As in most whale teeth, this one has feeding damage near the tip.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~5 1/4" (133 mm)
    Date:
  • March 2008 TRIP
  • This is another larger Sperm Whale tooth. It also has feeding damage near the tip, as most of the enamel has been sheared off.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~5" (127mm)
    Date:
  • March 2008 TRIP
  • Here is another sperm whale tooth.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5 - 5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~4 3/8" (111mm)
    Date:
  • Feb 2009 TRIP


  • Kentriodontidae & Eurhinodelphidae Families
    (Porpoises, Dolphins, etc..)

    Porpoise teeth
    Porpoise teeth are found at the mine in the Pungo River and Yorktown. They are difficult to see unless one is close to the ground.

    Formation:
  • ?Pungo River
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • Usually between .5 to 1.5 inches (18-38 mm)

  • Porpoise Jaw Fragments
    Eurhinodelphis? sp.
    Long snouted dolphin
    beak fragment
    This appears to be a fragment of the snout of the long snouted dolphin, Eurhinodelphis.
    Notice the small, closely spaced tooth holes.
    To learn more about Eurhinodelphis, view the Eurhinodelphis Gallery Page.

    Formation:
  • ?Pungo River
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~1 1/4" (32mm)
  • This is a fragment of the jaw of some other type of porpoise. Notice the very small tooth holes.
    Here is another jaw fragment of some type of porpoise.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown or Pungo
    Age:
  • Roughly 18-22 or 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~3" (76 mm)
    Date:
  • Sept. 2008 TRIP

  • Porpoise Ear Bones
    The ear bones (the bulla and periotic) are very dense, and therefore are usually the best preserved bone elements of the skull.
    Tympanic Bulla
    Inner Ear Bone of porpoise
    This bulla is probably from a porpoise.

    Formation:
  • ?
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5 or 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~2"
  • Periotic
    Inner Ear Bone of porpoise
    Periotics are easy to recognise due to their unique shape. Each species of porpoise has a slightly different shaped Periotic.

    Formation:
  • ?
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5 or 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • 1 3/4" (44 mm)
    Date:
  • Sept. 2008 TRIP

  • Porpoise Arms and Hands
    A cetaceans flipper has all the arm and hand components of any other mammal.

    The image below is a digital composite reconstruction of a partial porpoise arm using fossils found at Aurora, and the Calvert Cliffs.

    Humerus
    These are humeri from porpoises. The Humerus is the bone in the arm that connects the scapula (shoulder) to the ulna (forelimb),

    From this bone, the Radius and Ulna attach, then the Carpals and Phalanges (fingers).
    Identification based on Timmerman (1997, p. 66).
    The small size and odd shape of this bone makes its identification very easy. The Humerus is shaped slightly differently from species to species.

    Formation:
  • Pungo River or Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 18-22 or 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • Ulna
    (Arm bone)

    The Ulna is in the forearm, and runs parallel to the Radius. The Ulna and Radius connect the Humerus to the carpals and phalanges (hand).
    These are Ulna's. The leftmost one is a profile view.
    The shape of the Ulna varies depending on the species.

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • Radius
    (Arm bone)

    The Radius is in the forearm, and runs parallel to the Ulna. The Radius and Ulna connect the Humerus to the carpals and phalanges (hand).
    These are Radii. The leftmost one is a profile view.
    The shape of the Radius varies depending on the species.

    Formation:
  • Pungo River or Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 18-22 or 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • Phalanges
    (Finger Bones)

    The phalanges are the finger bones. They tend to be very small and flattened.

    Small whale phalanges and porpoise phalanges are impossible to tell apart without associated remains. Therefore, some of these could be small whale phalanges.
    Due to their size, porpoise phalanges are often overlooked.

    Formation:
  • Pungo River or Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 18-22 or 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC

  • Thoracic Vertebra
    This is a thoracic vertebra from some kind of very small porpoise species.

    Formation:
  • ?Pungo River or Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5 or 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC

  • Caudial (tail) Vertebra
    This is probably a porpoises Caudual, or tail, Vertebra from the front of the column. The processes are mostly missing.

    Formation:
  • ?Pungo River or Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5 or 18-22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC


  • Mysticeti sub-order
    (baleen, or whalebone, whales)


    Tympanic Bulla
    Inner Ear Bone of whale
    The ear bones (bulla and periotic) are very dense, and therefore are usually the best preserved bone elements of the skull.
    These are two whale bulla. The upper one is better preserved.

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • This one has been phosphatized, but has still been cracked in half (it's now glued).

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC


  • Whale Carpals
    Carpals are the wrist bones that connect the radius and ulna to the phalanges (fingers).
    Here is a carpal. It is very thin, with a hexagon like shape. They kind of look like turtle scutes, but the bone texture & structure is completely different

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5 - 5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~2.25" (57mm)
    Date:
  • Feb 2009 TRIP

  • Whale Phalanges
    Phalalanges are finger digits. Yes, whales have fingers in their flippers; they are mammals after all. Finger digits have a very flattened shape.
    Here are a series of composite finger digits

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC

  • Whale Skull Element
    Whale bone fragments litter the mine. Sometimes they are recognizable, as in the vertebra lower on this page, and skull elements.
    Whale Skull Element - Top of skull, or parietal?
    This is the top of a whale skull

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~7" wide (180 mm)

  • Whale Vertebrae
    Whale bone fragments are a good indicator of the Yorktown Formation. Bone fragments litterally litter the ground in the Yorktown. Vertebrae are usually thick and stubby, so they tend to survive better than other bones from these marine mammals. However, the thin and fragile processes are almost always broken off.
    Below are the some different types of whale vertebrae that can be found.
    Cervical Vertebra (C3 to C7?)
    Notice how thin the cervical vertebrae are compared to other vertebrae.
    This is one of a whales Cervical Vertebra. Since the processes are missing, it is difficult to further narrow it down.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~ x " ( mm x mm)

  • Thoracic Vertebra
    This is probably a lower Thoracic Vertebra from a whale. The processes are also mostly missing.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~ x " ( mm x mm)

  • Lumbar Vertebra
    This is probably one of a whales Lumbar Vertebra. Again, The processes are missing.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~2.5-5 m.y
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~ x " ( mm x mm)

  • Caudial (tail) Vertebra
    This is one of a whales Caudual, or tail Vertebra. The processes are mostly missing.
    Notice the two small processes on the bottom of the vertebra. These are only present on the Caudial Vertebra

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~ x " ( mm x mm)

  • Phocidae
    Seals

    There are numerous genera of pinnipeds in the Aurora sediments. The fossils below are not identified to the genera level. .

    Seal Vertebra
    This is a seal thoracic vertebra. Notice the difference in the shape of the processes with respect to a porpoise vertebra.

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Date:
  • Sept. 2008 TRIP
  • Seal Femur
    This is a seal femur. Notice the distinct difference between this and a porpoise radius and ulna.

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~2.75" (71mm) Date:
  • Feb 2009 TRIP
  • Seal Phalange
    This is a seal finger digit. Notice the distinct difference between this and a porpoise phalange.

    Formation:
  • ?Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ ?2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Size:
  • ~2.75" (71mm) Date:
  • Sept. 2007 TRIP



  • Reptiles


    Crocodile
    Crocodile teeth are occasionally found in the mine
    This is the only Crocodile tooth I have found. It is very worn. Interestingly enough, it came from the Pungo River reject pile initially in front of the Aurora Fossil Museum.

    Formation:
  • Miocene
    Age:
  • ~ 18 - 22 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Date:
  • September 2010

  • Birds
    Bird bones can be found at the mine. However, since bird bones are hollow (to reduce weight for flight), they are very fragile and are usually found broken.

    Alca sp.
    Auk, ulna

    Auks are a type of diving bird that resemble penguins.
    Here is a complete ulna. These fossils are very light and fragile, as they are hollow. Birds have hollow bones to reduce their weight for flight.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
    Date:
  • May 2003
  • This is a broken ulna of an Auk. It is difficult to determine the species since it is broken.

    Notice the holow structure of the bone.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC



  • Pathologies

    Predation evidence

    Many bones found at Lee creek and other vertebrate sites often show evidence of predation. The bones either have puncture marks and/or scrape marks from teeth of the feeding animal. These predation marks were most likely caused from animals scavenging the dead carcas, however, some have been caused by the predator that hunted and killed the animal.
    This whale rib fragment has numerous scrape marks caused by sharks. There are 5 on this side, and 2 on the other side. Some scrape marks show signs of serration marks from the shark teeth.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • 2.5 - 5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • This is half of a whale bulla. On the top of the bulla, the left image, one can see numerous scrape marks most likely make by shark teeth.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • Roughly 2.5-5
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
  • This whale vertebra was apparently bitted in half. If one looks at the inside half of the vertebra (the lower left image), one can see a series of 2-4" long, and 1/8" deep scrape marks running almost vertically down the vertebra. These scrapes were probably caused by the teeth slicing the vertebra in half.
    Such large scrape marks makes me beleive this was done by a megalodon.

    Formation:
  • Yorktown
    Age:
  • ~ 2.5-5 m.y.
    Location:
  • PCS Mine, Aurora, NC