Janus - North Carolina Fossil Club
2015 Summer Calendar
19 NCFC Meeting – NCMNS, 11 West Jones
Street, Raleigh. 1:30 pm, Level A conference
room. Roll-out for Volume III: Fish and a report
on collecting Topsail Island after the beach
20 NCFC Meeting – NCMNS, 11 West Jones
Street, Raleigh. 1:30 pm, Level A conference
room. Program TBA
26 Mini Fossil Fair – Rankin Museum, 131 W.
Church St., Ellerbe, NC 9:00 - 4:00. Contact:
(704) 784-1672 or
The Fall collecting calendar will be in the next issue of
Summer is here with a vengeance and the heat is definitely ON!
This spring was full of collecting opportunities and outreach.
Hope everyone who wanted to had a chance to participate.
On the dark side: The new Federal Regulation on collecting
fossils on National Forest Lands went into effect on May
18, 2015 – see the article later in the newsletter – and it is a
cautionary tale for fossil collecting everywhere.
On the bright side: The Topsail Beach sand replenishment
project is throwing up all kinds of neat things – also see article
later in this issue.
On the brightest side: Volume III, Fossil Fish has been
released and the party is ON! Come to the July meeting on the
19th and celebrate with us!
I encourage everyone to get out there and volunteer and try
to do at least a little outreach this year. You don’t have to be an
expert, in fact, you don’t have to know anything at all – just have
a passion for fossils and off you go!
Can’t wait to see you in the field or at an event!
John Timmerman has an article on shell collecting at the
fabled Lee Creek Mine (SIGH!!). Ruffin Tucker reports on
the Norwood Arbor Day Festival (page 5). On page 6 is a
collection of photographs by Trish Kohler, devoted to the
remarkable collecting trip to the Castle Hayne quarry this past
April. President Linda McCall has an extensive analysis of
recent legislation that seriously restricts fossil collecting in
National Forest lands. Linda also has a report on the recent beach
renourishment on Topsail Island which produced large numbers
of some very scarce Oligocene fossils, including an undescribed
species of brittle star. Pictures below, on page 8, and on the back
2015 Number 2
rish Kohler, our Treasurer since 1987 (!!), has asked to step
down. Trish has done an exceptional job in a relatively
thankless, but nonetheless exceedingly important, position.
She has kept our books accurately, with any discrepancy instantly
resolved. The Club will just not be the same without her telling
us at each meeting exactly how much (to the penny) is in the
treasury. Please take the earliest opportunity to express to her
your personal thanks for a job truly well-done.
David Sanderson, our long-time trip leader to the Castle Hayne
and Rocky Point quarries will be her replacement as of the Fossil
Fair in November (when new officers and Board Members’ terms
Ecphora tricostata (Martin, 1904) — Pungo River Formation. 6cm. Ecphora quadricostata (Say, 1824) — Yorktown Formation.
6cm. Rapana rapiformis (Born, 1778) — Recent, for comparison with Ecphora. 9cm.
The Joys of Fossiling: at a North Carolina Phosphate Mine.
By John R. Timmerman
North Carolina and its beaches start many people along the road
to a shell collecting hobby. But it can also stimulate an interest
in fossil collecting. Fossil collecting has many advantages over
collecting recent shells. The collector can obtain a large variety of
species existing over millions of years in a relatively small area.
Deposits representing deep and shallow water can be collected near
each other and in a short time. And the fossils have lost most or all
of their color, giving rise to a new kind of molluscan beauty: the
lack of color serves to emphasize the fantastic sculpture or form of
a given species. The appeal of the bold ribbing in a Chesapecten
jeffersonius is hard to match in modern pectens. Fossil collecting
has become a passion for me since deep water and tropical species
are readily available without a great deal of travel.
I recently visited the Texasgulf Phosphate Mine in North
Carolina. It proved a perfect place for me to partake of the joys of
fossil collecting. Several ages of deposits are present at the site,
perhaps the best known of which is the Yorktown, considered to be
early Pliocene in age. Pungo River, Chowan River and James City
Formations are also found here (see chart). Pungo River is older
than the Yorktown and Chowan River and James City Formations
are younger. These deposits represent a variety of shallow ocean
or coastal environments during a warmer time in the history of
the earth than today’s climate. The environment is thought to have
been similar to modem shallow sounds such as Chesapeake Bay
and near-shore areas of open ocean. The presence of terrestrial
mammal fossils indicates the proximity of dry land to these
environments. Mollusks are common-to-abundant, as are marine
Most of the fossils are from the Yorktown, Chowan, and James
City Formations. From these deposits come such well-known
molluscan fossils as Ecphora quadricostata and Chesapecten.
Many of the fossils in this deposit are also common to other
deposits north and south of the area, because at various times they
were part of a continuous coastline.
The Ecphoras, extinct by the middle Pliocene, are considered
relatives of the modern Rapana. Close examination of the siphonal
fasciole of the shell reveals a similar growth pattern between
Ecphora and the modern Rapana. The thickness and number of
the ribs varied from species to species. The shells consist of two
layers of material. The outer layer, calcite, is translucent brown,
Marvacrassatella kauffmani Ray, 1987 —James City
Fossils littering surface of spoil piles — mollusks and dead coral
Chesapecten madisonius as found, Yorktown Formation
Volutafusus typus Conrad, 1863 — James City Formation, 10 cm.
GEOLOGIC AGES AND FORMATIONS
Period of Age
early - late
presenting a rather beautiful appearance, different from most other
fossils of this deposit. The inside of the shell is lined with a thin
opaque white layer of aragonite, but the aragonite layer is often
leached away, because aragonite has an unstable nature. Ecphora
tricostata, from the Miocene, had three distinct ribs as its name
implies. Some specimens have weak fourth and fifth ribs. Since no
soft tissues are available for study, as is the case with all fossils,
definite speciation must be determined by shell structure and age
of deposit from which they came.
Occurring with Ecphora from the Miocene through the early
Pliocene are the convex scallop shells known as Chesapectens.
Some Chesapectens attained huge proportions, even growing to
the size of dinner plates. In some cases several species coexisted in
the same habitat. They reached their apex in both size and number
of species during the early Pliocene, and they disappeared at the
same time as the Ecphoras.
Exact classification of different Chesapecten species is difficult
due to poorly preserved internal structures such as muscle scars.
The byssal notches and shape of the ribs have been used as guides
for differentiation, but the number of ribs can vary within a
given species. Other large pectens lived with the Chesapectens,
including Argopecten eboreus and Placopecten clintonius, which
is very similar to the modern Placopecten magellanicus.
The Chowan River and James City Formations at this locale
are similar in fauna to deposits in central Florida. Mollusks are
more abundant in these deposits than in the Yorktown, but less
plentiful than in similar-aged Florida deposits. Many mollusks in
these strata are familiar to the Florida fossil collector, but some
species have subtle variations from their Florida counterparts. In
other instances, Florida species are absent here, just as there are
fossils here that are not found in Florida.
Volutofusus typus of the early Pleistocene is the sole volute
from this deposit. Its shells are fairly common at Texas Gulf. In
shape they are similar to modern Scaphellas, with a prominent
protoconch. Their shells are coated with an overglaze similar to
some West African Cymbiums. They grew quite large, with shells
of 15 centimeters not uncommon.
Millions of Years Ago
20 - 7
5 - 3.6
3.5 - 2.5
2.3 - 1.8
Epitonium fractum Dall, 1927 — James City Formation, 3.5 cm.
In shape these bivalves are
very similar to Eucrassatella
but grew to an amazing
11 centimeters or more in
diameter. These mollusks
have been designated a
guide fossil, a species that
has been identified as being
characteristic to a specific
deposit or formation, and so
a marker for that deposit or
kauffmani is characteristic to
the James City Formation.
Ecphora quadricostata is
a guide for the Yorktown
Does this mean that any
time a collector finds a
he can be sure he is collecting
in the James City Formation:
Not necessarily. One of
the difficulties facing a
beginning fossil collector is
the phenomenon of erosion
and redeposition. Just as
fossils are being exposed by
erosion along rivers, streams, Cross sections of three Chesapecten
and ocean fronts today, taxa from the Yorktown Formation,
so it happened in the past. a: C. madisonius (Say, 1824); B:
Earlier fossils were eroded C. jeffersonius jeffersonius (Say,
out of their original beds, 1824); C: C. jeffersonius septenarius
mixed with new material (Say, 1824). The illustrated shell, C.
of the period of erosion, jeffersonius, is the oldest of the three;
perhaps with the remains of the others appeared about the time it
animals living then as they disappeared.
died and fell to the bottom,
and the entire mixture was
redeposited. This process is called reworking. Thus it is possible
to find fossils of different ages in the same deposit. Guide fossils
from two or more periods in a single deposit will indicate different
ages of material that became mixed, a reworked deposit. It is even
possible for the material from one deposit to be completely carried
away by erosion. In such a situation there may be a vast period of
time not represented in the strata in a given locale. (In a sense the
waste piles from mining operations can be considered a man-made
form of reworking.)
Fossils in the phosphate mine deposits were often concentrated
in a given area by water currents, just as modern shells are. Some
Urosalpinx suffolkensis Gardner, 1948 — James City
Busycon concinnum Conrad, 1873 — James City Formation.
Pterorytis fluviana (Dall, 1903) — James City Formation. 5 cm.
areas of a given sediment can be poor in fossils while others
will be saturated. Chesapectens tend to occur like this. Many
of them have barnacles, worm tubes and small oysters attached
to their inner surfaces indicating death before burial. Thus they
were more subject to being piled up by currents than living
individuals would be. This is one of the most interesting aspects
of fossil collecting: the way it enable the student to observe
environmental effects of the past and their similarity to those of
Geology and Paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine,
North Carolina, II. Smithsonian Contributions
to Paleobiology, #61. Clayton E. Ray, Editor,
Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C. 1987.
Fossil Collecting in North Carolina. Bulletin #89.
By J. G. Carter, P. E. Gallagher, R. Enos Valone,
and T. J. Rossbach. Dept. of Natural Resources
and Community Development, Division of Land
Resources Geological Survey Section, Raleigh,
North Carolina, 1988.
Heilprinia caloosaensis malcolmi Ray, 1987 — Formation uncertain 8. cm.
Reprinted from American Conchologist,
Norwood Arbor Day Festival
The Norwood Fossil Fair was held on a cool and rainy
Saturday, April 23, 2015. This was our 6th year for the NC Fossil
Club outreach to this Piedmont community. We lost the part of
the usual members of the club that joined us each year as well
as the NC Museum of Natural Sciences display and staff to the
NC Science Olympiad Finals held on the same date. This left
Jonathan, Kathy and Arianna Fain and myself to set up fossil
tables in the Norwood Town Hall. Normally we set up in a tent
outside. We let Dr. James Bain and Mary Boulton have the tent
(!0 x 20 ft.) for the Aurora material so they could work with the
kids and have protection from the occasional rain. They could
come inside when rain became to hard. The town had students
from the high schools and
present and retired teachers
to help in shifts scheduled to
assist fossil hunters from 10 am
to 4 pm period with breaks and
lunches. Many shark teeth were
carried home. As you might
imagine, the attendees were
fewer than previous festivals.
However, we were able to
give them a good show. They
are anxious for us to return
next year. They fed us great
barbecue at the Fire Station.
The US Forest Service and
a 20 ft. Smokey Bear were
there along with jewelry, food.
plants,bird houses for sale and
live music on stage all day and
into the night.
Dr. Bain and tent
Mary Boulton with mother of fossil hunter
Federal Forestlands Fossil Collection Ruling
and Why it Matters
A recent ruling by the Federal Government has come to my
attention that will affect all of us. The Federal Paleontological
Resources Preservation Ruling went into effect May 18, 2015 and
we should all be aware of the rules, regulations, repercussions
and implications it holds for us and our hobby/avocation.
1) Basically it is designed to end amateur fossil collecting (of
any kind) on all Federal Forest Lands effective May 18, 2015.
2) This ruling is SPECIFICALLY written to address fossil
INVERTEBRATE collection. The 2009 Ruling already banned
3) The ruling will be extended to include BLM (Bureau of
Land Management) lands soon and then applied it to ALL Federal
4) While this may not appear to affect some clubs/societies in
some states now, it DOES affect much of the collecting west of
5) It has already affected us. We have a member who has
collected on a site on Federal Forest Land in NC, and it is now
illegal for him to do so.
Now imagine these restrictions being pushed down to the state
level – as they could be in the future if we do not hold the line
So, please take the time to read and understand this rather long
As I read it, although the rule allows for “casual” collecting,
the parameters are restrictive enough that it basically ends
collecting by amateurs.
Here are some excerpts from the actual bill:
5. The term casual collecting restates the definition contained
in 16 U.S.C. 470aaa. To be considered casual collecting, the
activity means all of the following: Collecting of a reasonable
amount of common invertebrate or plant paleontological
resources for non-commercial personal use, either by surface
collection or the use of non-powered hand tools, resulting in
only negligible disturbance to the Earth’s surface and other
resources. The Department considers that in establishing the term
“casual collection” rather than “amateur collection” or “hobby
collection” or “recreational collection”, the Act intended that
casual collection reflect the commonplace meaning of “casual”.
The commonplace definition of casual includes the elements
“happening by chance; not planned or expected”, “done without
much thought, effort, or concern”, and “occurring without
regularity” (“casual” Merriam-Webster.com. 2014. http://www.
merriam-webster.com/dictionary/casual (4 March 2014)).
Consequently, the Department considers that casual collecting
would generally be happenstance without intentional planning
or preparation. Development of criteria for reasonable amount
and negligible disturbance reflects, in part, the view of casual
collecting as an activity that generally occurs by chance without
planning or preparation. Further, the Act has established that an
individual engaging in casual collecting activity in accordance
with applicable conditions, in an area which has not been closed
to casual collection, does not require a permit or other approval
from the Department. Consequently, it is clear that the lack of
Department decision space concerning such casual collection
performed by an individual reflects that the Act intended that
reasonable amount and negligible disturbance criteria established
for casual collecting would be below levels that would otherwise
require an evaluation under the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA). Collection of amounts and/or land disturbance at
levels that would require a NEPA evaluation would require a
13. The term negligible disturbance as used in the definition
of casual collecting clarifies that casual collection of common
invertebrate and plant fossils may only result in little or no
change to the land surface and have minimal or no effect on other
resources such as cultural resources and protected or endangered
species. Disturbance caused by powered and/or large nonpowered hand tools would exceed the “negligible” threshold and
would no longer be casual collection.
14. The term non-commercial personal use as used in
the definition of casual collecting clarifies the types of use
allowed under casual collection, and means uses other than
for purchase, sale, financial gain, or research. Research, in the
context of these regulations, is considered to be a structured
activity undertaken by qualified individuals with the intent to
obtain and disseminate information via publication in a peerreviewed professional scientific journal or equivalent venue,
which increases the body of knowledge available to a scientific
community. Common invertebrate and plant paleontological
resources collected for research purposes is not personal use and
would need to be authorized under a permit in accordance with
§§ 291.13 through 291.20. Exchange of common invertebrate
and plant paleontological resources among casual collectors
would be permissible as long as such resources were collected in
accordance with the Act and the final regulations.
15. The term non-powered hand tools as used in the definition
of casual collecting clarifies the types of tools that can be used
for the casual collecting of common invertebrate and plant
paleontological resources, and means small tools that can be
readily carried by hand, such as geologic hammers, trowels, or
sieves, but not large tools such as full sized-shovels or pick axes.
Larger tools are more likely to create disturbance that is greater
than “negligible.” The tools must not be powered by a motor,
engine, or other power source.
18. The term reasonable amount as used in the definition of
casual collecting quantifies the maximum amount of common
invertebrate and plant paleontological resources that could be
removed from National Forest System lands. A person may
remove up to 100 pounds in weight per calendar year, not to
exceed 25 pounds per day. Development of this reasonable
amount criterion reflects, in part, the view of casual collecting as
an activity that generally occurs by chance without planning or
And that’s just the start. Again - Imagine if these restrictions
were at the State level.
I believe it is time for all the Amateur/Avocational Fossil
Organizations(Clubs/Societies) to come together and stand with
one voice push back in any way possible to stop any MORE
restrictions being imposed on our hobby/vocation, and possibly
petition to loosen the restrictive wording of “casual collecting” in
the current Federal law.
To that end we need to think about setting standardized
collecting rules and ethics for collecting (which most of us
already have). And they need to be set high enough to get the
buy-in of the professionals - because we will need them to push
through any kind of legislation.
I had a long and productive conversation with the head
paleontologist of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).The
short version is this:1) These laws were enacted and intended to
shut down the large scale commercial sale of fossils.
2) The current law makes provisions for three groups: 1
- Casual Collectors (mom and pop out for a walk and find a
fossil - you can keep it) 2 - Professionals - get a permit; and 3 Commercial Dealers - You are out. What it fails to do is address
our Amateur/Avocational Community. Maybe they didn’t know
how many of us there or how important we are, who knows?
3) He agrees that the Forest Service wording was
“unfortunate”, the BLM folks seem to be more open to the
Amateur/Avocational community and they intend for their
wording to be different.
5) Their wording will come out sometime this fall and there
will be a 60 day comment period.
6) We should all be prepared to make constructive comments
at that time - especially comments aimed at showing them how
our community can assist BLM with outreach efforts, enforcing
protection of sites, and documenting what’s out there. These are
all things BLM is charged with doing that they don’t have the
manpower to do but WE do.
7) BLM in turn would then either try to create a 4th category
for us or re-word things to account for us collecting larger
amounts, etc., etc. to use for outreach, etc., etc.
To that end I will be asking all the clubs across the country to
gather up the following data and send it to me. I am asking ya’ll
to do the same. I can do a lot of them, but will need your help on
#s, 2,3,4,7 (members published),8,9 (individuals),10
1) How many members our organization has.
2) How many outreach events we do a year (anything that
involves the public)
3) How many people these efforts reach (you can do it by
event, or just give me a total).
4) How many fossils you give away each year - estimate a
number and a weight - that will help them in determining what
we can be allowed to collect)
5) Approximately how many field trips do we run as a club a
6) Are any of them on Federal Land? If so, how many.
7) Does our club publish any paleo literature? What? Any
members publish non-peer reviewed literature? If so, what?
8) Are any of your members peer-review published - who and
how many times.
9) Any projects your club or it’s individuals work on with any
10) Donations made to Museums or Universities – and any that
have been written up
11) Anything else relevant I haven’t thought to ask!
These statistics are all intended to show the government how
valuable and underutilized a resource we are and that we are a
large enough, and important enough block to make concessions
for. Please send them as soon as you can gather them - I know it
might be difficult - we all just do this stuff - we don’t track it, but
it is important now to know the figures.
Fingers crossed everyone!
Topsail Beach Rocks!
There are rocks all over the beach on North Topsail Island.
Thirty million year old rocks to be precise. To say the sand
replenishment project has gotten off to a “rocky” start would be
an understatement. The rocks weren’t planned, and it seems that
NO one likes them, not the homeowners, not the tourists, not
the turtle lovers nor the environmentalists, but every cloud has
a silver lining. It turns out someone DOES like the rocks on the
beach. WE do!
Topsail has always been known for its fossil shark teeth, and
lots of folks come to collect them, but this is different. Most
of the rock being dredged up is actually 30 million year old
solidified sandy ocean bottom from the Oligocene age (River
Bend Formation) and it’s full of usually rare or non-existent
fossils. As an added bonus, when the slurry of sand and rock
is pumped through the miles of pipe, the fossils are effectively
blasted clean by the sand and come out looking incredibly
pristine. So, it’s like having Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years
and your Birthday all rolled into one, AND you won the lotto.
The variety of Oligocene fossils, includes echinoderms,
oysters, barnacles, crustacean, brachiopods, bryozoan, bivalve
and gastropod impressions as well as some bone material
including casts of a primitive archaeocete whale brain case region
of the skull, and several teeth in matrix – not to mention the shark
teeth, horse teeth, mastodon tooth and misc. Pliocene-Pleistocene
bone bits that are washing out as well.
Many of the Oligocene echinoderms, barnacles and oysters
appear to retain traces of their original color, mauve, purple and
lavender on some of the echinoderms, red on the barnacles and
gold stripes on the oysters, while a few crustacean arm sections
show mottled color pattern retention. And how cool is that?!
Prolonged exposure to sunlight causes the specimens to bleach
white, tan or grey.
Some of the specimens on the beach are in better condition
than ones we currently have in our museums, so we will use them
to upgrade our collections. Some are new to science and will
have papers published to describe them. Studying these fossils
gives us a unique window into a part of North Carolina’s ancient
history that we didn’t know about before and adds another facet
to the growing body of knowledge we have about our state.
Understanding our past may be the key to our future, so next time
you walk the beach, take a closer look at the rocks beneath your
feet – they may be trying to tell you something.
The project is supposed to end June 30. 2015, but fossils will
be washing out of the sand for years to come. So, let’s all hit the
North Carolina Fossil Club, Inc.
Immediate Past President
Mary Boulton (2016)
Charlie Causey (2016)
Joy Pierce Herrington (2015)
Gustavo Pierangelini (2015)
David Sanderson (2016)
Libby Smalley (2016)
Ruffin Tucker (2015)
Diane Willis (2015)
Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill, NC
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
2015 Membership Application - North Carolina Fossil Club
Name(s) Address City, State, ZIP Phone(s) (Include Area Code) E-Mail Address Select One Type of Membership
(Enclose check or money order
for the indicated amount.)
$20.00 Individual (new)
$15.00 Individual (renewal)
$25.00 Household (new)
Children of NCFC members who are dependent minors and living at home may accompany parents on any trip EXCEPT PCS–Lee Creek or where
Memberships are effective from January through December of the year (or portion of the year) of the date of application. For example, persons
joining in August will need to renew their membership 5 months later in January.
The Fossil Club’s newsletter, JANUS, is mailed out four times a year and is available online for members. Please let us know how you’d like to
continue receiving JANUS. If you choose to download it from the website, you will receive an email when a new one is published.
I will download Janus from website (www.NCFossilClub.org) please continue to send a paper copy via US Mail
NCFC Liability Statement
The Undersigned hereby acknowledges his/her understanding that fossil collecting is an inherently dangerous activity which can result in serious
bodily injury or death, and/or property damage and hereby confirms his/her voluntary assumption of the risk of such injury, death or damage.
The Undersigned, in return for the privilege of attending field trips Related to the collection of and/or study of fossils, or any other event or activity
conducted or hosted by the North Carolina Fossil Club (NCFC), hereinafter collectively and individually referred to as “NCFC Events”, hereby releases
the NCFC, NCFC Board members and officers, NCFC Event leaders or organizers and hosts, landowners and mine or quarry operators from any and
all liability claims resulting from injury to or death of the undersigned or his/her minor children or damage to his/her property resulting from any cause
whatsoever related to participation in NCFC Events.
The Undersigned agrees to comply with any and all rules and restrictions which may be communicated to the undersigned by the NCFC Event leader
and/or landowner and mine or quarry operator and acknowledges that failure to comply will result in immediate expulsion from the premises.
The Undersigned acknowledges that this release covers all NCFC Events and will remain in effect at all times unless or until it is revoked by written
notice to the current President of the NCFC and receipt of such revocation is acknowledged.
The Undersigned further attests to his/her intent to be legally bound by affixing his /her signature to this release.
Name Signature Date Name Signature Date Mail To: North Carolina Fossil Club, P.O. Box 25276, Raleigh, NC 27611-5276
North Carolina Fossil Club
P.O. Box 25276
Raleigh, NC 27611-5276
Maretia carolinensis, a previously exceedingly rare echinoid, washed out in
bucketfuls from the Topsail Beach renourishment. (see page 8)