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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

FOSSIL SHARKS AND RAYS FROM A NEW LOCALITY IN WILKINSON COUNTY, GEORGIA

Abstract

Fossils of marine organisms have been described from Eocene units of the southeast. In Georgia, they are generally found within the quartz dominated nearshore deposits of the Clinchfield Formation of the Barnwell Group. Recent exploration of a fossiliferous horizon in an active kaolin mine in Wilkinson County, Georgia has produced an array of marine fossils. The fossils were recovered by surface collecting overburden sediments exposed by mining operations. Thus far, the collection includes bivalves, gastropods, echinoderms, teeth of chondrichthyans, many vertebrae of osteichthyans, at least one species of turtle (Trionychidae) represented by multiple shell fragments, several vertebrae from an extinct “sea snake” (Pterosphenus), and two cetacean vertebrae. Here we describe the chondrichthyans. Based on frequency of occurrence, the collection is dominated by shark teeth belonging to the Sand Tiger Shark (Charcharis). Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo), Snaggletooth Sharks (Hemipristis), Angel Sharks (Squatina), Sawfish Sharks (Pristis), Extinct Sawfish (Propristis), and Megatooth Sharks (Carcharocles) are also present. Rays are represented by a number of dental plates, isolated teeth, and tail spines (cf. Myliobatis). 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 enhance our understanding of the paleoenvironments of central Georgia during the Late Eocene.

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