Research Publication Title

Vertebrate Fossils From a New Locality in Wilkinson County, Georgia

Major

Environmental Science

Faculty Mentor

Alfred J Mead

Keywords

Eocene, kaolin, shark, vertebrate, fossil, Georgia

Abstract

Recent exploration of a fossiliferous horizon in an active kaolin mine in Wilkinson County, Georgia has produced an array of fossils of marine vertebrates. The objective of this study is to identify and curate this new fossil collection. The collection is dominated by Eocene-aged sharks teeth belonging to the Sand Tiger Shark (Charcharis), but also includes teeth from Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo), Snaggletooth Sharks (Hemipristis), Angel Sharks (Squatina), Sawfish Sharks (Pristis), Extinct Sawfish (Propristis), and Megatooth Sharks (Carcharocles). Rays are represented by a number of dental plates and tail spines (cf. Myliobatis). At least one species of turtle (Trionychidae) is represented by multiple shell fragments. Several vertebrae from an extinct “sea snake” (Pterosphenus) have been recovered as well. Additionally, two cetacean vertebrae have also been recovered. Most of these taxa have been interpreted as shallow water, near shore animals. These fossils add to our knowledge of the geographic distribution of these taxa and the paleoenvironments of central Georgia during the Eocene.

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Vertebrate Fossils From a New Locality in Wilkinson County, Georgia

Recent exploration of a fossiliferous horizon in an active kaolin mine in Wilkinson County, Georgia has produced an array of fossils of marine vertebrates. The objective of this study is to identify and curate this new fossil collection. The collection is dominated by Eocene-aged sharks teeth belonging to the Sand Tiger Shark (Charcharis), but also includes teeth from Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo), Snaggletooth Sharks (Hemipristis), Angel Sharks (Squatina), Sawfish Sharks (Pristis), Extinct Sawfish (Propristis), and Megatooth Sharks (Carcharocles). Rays are represented by a number of dental plates and tail spines (cf. Myliobatis). At least one species of turtle (Trionychidae) is represented by multiple shell fragments. Several vertebrae from an extinct “sea snake” (Pterosphenus) have been recovered as well. Additionally, two cetacean vertebrae have also been recovered. Most of these taxa have been interpreted as shallow water, near shore animals. These fossils add to our knowledge of the geographic distribution of these taxa and the paleoenvironments of central Georgia during the Eocene.