home   Printer friendly version Add to site
Advanced search
Time & Space Fossil Gallery Famous Flora & Fauna
Careers Resources K-12 Collections PaleoPeople

North Carolina, US



Choose a time period:

Dates (mya)
Time Scale Legend

State Fossil:

There is no official state fossil for this state. Encourage your state legislature to adopt one today!

Search the fossil gallery

Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: Most Precambrian sediments in North Carolina have been metamorphosed. The presence of a very rare and enigmatic Precambrian fossil, Pteridinium indicates that a sea was present over a portion of the state during the Late Precambrian.

The Paleozoic: The Paleozoic is poorly represented by sedimentary rocks and fossils in North Carolina. Trace fossils called Skolithos have been found in some lightly metamorphosed Cambrian rocks. There is at least one other report of marine fossils from a quarry in south-central North Carolina, indicating that a shallow sea existed in the area at this time. The Late Paleozoic (Carboniferous and Permian) was a time of intense deformation, metamorphism, and mountain building, resulting in the rise of the Allegany Mountains. There are no sedimentary rocks or fossils from this time interval.

The Mesozoic: The Mesozoic is represented by both marine and non-marine sedimentary deposits. During the Triassic, rift basins formed as a result of tectonic activity and lakes and rivers formed within these basins. Conifers and cycads grew along the lake margins; clams, crustaceans, and fish flourished in the aquatic environments; and various reptiles and mammal relatives roamed the area. There are no surface exposures of Jurassic rocks in North Carolina, but Cretaceous rocks show that the sea flooded North Carolina from time to time. Oysters and other molluscs flourished in the warm waters where sands, muds, and limy muds were being deposited. Dinosaurs roamed the shoreline.

The Cenozoic: Erosion of the Appalachians continued into the Cenozoic and rivers carried the sediments to the Coastal Plain. During the Early Cenozoic, the sea repeatedly flooded eastern North Carolina and then retreated, producing sediments rich in marine life. The expansion and melting of continental glaciers caused sea levels to rise and fall repeatedly during the Quaternary. When sea level was high, sandy deposits accumulated, and fossils of molluscs, sea cows, sharks, and fish can be found in these sediments. Mastodons, horses, giant ground sloths, and smaller mammals flourished on land.

Links to more on North Carolina paleontology

Organizations | Research and Collections | Resources


Societies and Clubs (showing 1 of 1 listings)

North Carolina Fossil Club: The North Carolina Fossil Club (NCFC) is a" hobby-based" organization of over 400 members.

top Top of List

Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: The Museum's paleontology collection includes approximately 56,000 vertebrate, 55,000 invertebrate, and 1,000 paleobotanical specimens.

Aurora Fossil Museum: This museum features specimens collected from the Aurora area (formerly referred to as Lee Creek).

top Top of List

Colleges and Universities (showing 3 of 4 listings)

Department of Geography and Geology, UNCW: Home page for the Department of Geography and Geology at University of North Carolina Wilmington; contains links to course and faculty web pages.

North Carolina State University Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences: Our department offers PhD and MS programs in Paleontology. Undergraduates may pursue an Earth Sciences BS with a focus on paleontology and have many opportunities for research and fieldwork.

Department of Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: The Department of Geological Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate courses in paleontology.

More Colleges and Universities

top Top of List

Research and Collections

Researchers (showing 3 of 3 listings)

Dale Russell: Research interest and emphasis focuses on the biogeography of southern dinosaurs.

James E. Mickle: Research focus on paleobotany.

Mary Schweitzer: Research focus on molecular paleontology and taphonomy.

top Top of List

Ongoing Research Projects (showing 1 of 1 listings)

ExpeditionLive!: This is the official blog of the Paleontology & Geology Research Lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

top Top of List


Field Guides (showing 1 of 1 listings)

The Life and Times of Long Dead Sharks: Information on fossil sharks and rays, primarily from Miocene to Pleistocene marine sediments in eastern North Carolina. Also material on select locations around the U.S.

top Top of List

Virginia State Map
South Carolina State Map
Georgia State Map
Tennessee State Map