Microfossil Hunt: Tiny Fossils from the Aurora Mine in North Carolina

The Microfossil Hunt Open-at-Home Bag contains a heaping half cup of 20-million-year-old phosphate gravel from the Aurora Mine in North Carolina, plus a fossil identification sheet and some tiny zippered bags where you can store your fossil finds.

Here’s one way to hunt for fossils in your phosphate gravel: Pour some gravel on one side of a paper plate, then slowly push small amounts of gravel to the other side of the plate, so you can look closely at a very thin layer of black-and-gray phosphate pebbles, sand, and fossils. Use a magnifier if you have one. By searching carefully you can find dozens of tiny fossils of sharks, rays, clams, snails, corals, sea urchins, barnacles, and other sea creatures (plus a larger fossil or two).

Fossils found in a half cup of phosphate gravel from the Aurora Mine in North Carolina.

Here are some online sources to help you identify your fossils. This link takes you to a PDF file that identifies the most common shark fossils found at the Aurora Mine: https://www.fossilguy.com/id_papers/fossil_identification_miocene_pliocene_NC.pdf

This two-page PDF file from the Aurora Fossil Museum is an expanded version of the printout we included in your Microfossil Hunt bag: https://www.myfossil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/AuroraFossilMuseum_FossilIdentificationSheet.pdf

If you still have trouble identifying something, email a photo of the fossil to Mr. Eric at NatureSwapShop@gmail.com, and he will try to help.

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Here are some additional online sources with lots more information about the Aurora Mine and the fossils that are found there:

Here is the Aurora Fossil Museum’s shark tooth identification page: http://aurorafossilmuseum.org/post/17/shark-tooth-identification.html

The links on this page will help you identify many of the other fossils found at the Aurora Mine: https://www.fossilguy.com/sites/l_creek/lcrk_col.htm

The Fossil Guy’s website has lots of information and images about fossil hunting in North Carolina: https://www.fossilguy.com/sites/l_creek/index.htm

Please let us know if you find other useful online sources of information about the Aurora Mine and its fossils.