In this post, I will share some of my whale finds from the late Oligocene Chandler Bridge formation from the Summerville, SC area (Chattian age – 27.5 Ma). The Chandler Bridge along with the underlying Ashley formation (Rupelian age – 29.2 Ma) make up the richest deposit of Oligocene marine vertebrates ever described. As I noted in my previous post, this fauna includes (in addition to the fantastic cetaceans) birds, crocodilians, turtles, sirenians, fishes, and an abundance of the teeth and dermal denticles of sharks and rays.
At least five different genera of odontocetes have been described from these beds, including a new species of the very primitive genus Xenorophus, a new species of Squalodon, and 3 totally new genera. I am still waiting to get the published descriptions of these new genera. In all, between the Chandler Bridge and the Ashley formation, 25 new species of cetaceans have been described from South Carolina. Besides the odontocetes, there have also been 3 new species of mysticetes (suborder Mysticeti), and at least 2 new species of archeocetes (extinct suborder Archeoceti). The previous latest known occurrence of archeocetes was from the mid to late Rupelian (middle Oligocene).
In the attached photos you can see various elements of the post cranial skeleton of some of the “primitive” Oligocene toothed whales (suborder Odontoceti, super-family Squalodontoidea) from the ChB. Most all of my skull material was donated to the Charleston Museum for their research into these animals, especially involving cranial “telescoping” (the movement of the nasal openings to the apex of the skull) and how it relates to the evolution of the odontocetes. The Oligocene is widely regarded as the period when these “primitive” whales were completing their evolution into the ‘modern’ forms of today. The sheer number and the excellent preservation of the ChB whales are allowing scientists to witness this evolution as it occurred in the mid and late Oligocene.
The first photo includes a section of the left mandible, two specimens of the tympanic bullae (back of picture), a beautiful and complete atlas vertebra, a cervical vertebra, 3 thoracic vertebrae and 2 rib sections. The second photo is a close-up of the cervical. The next photo shows some of the lower vertebrae. Photo 4 shows a close-up of one of these vertebrae which I removed from in situ in bed 2, with the neural arch (for the spinal cord) and the wing-like transverse processes still intact. Photo 5 is a group of loose teeth I have found over the years. Photo 6 is a close-up of the mandible fragment with 2 of the double-rooted molars still in place. Photos 7 & 8 are molars. Photo 9 is a pre-molar, and
photo 10 is an incisor.
Latest posts by Sammy Peek (see all)
- A Protocetid Whale from South Carolina - October 19, 2016
- Fossil Hunting in the Whitewater Formation, March 19, 2016 - March 25, 2016
- Fossil Hunting in Summerville, SC: Part 2 - March 19, 2016
- Fossil Hunting in Summerville, SC: Part 1 - March 3, 2016
I am trying to take my (6 year old) son who is obsessed with sharks to find some really awesome teeth. We have been trying to find a good area to search along the Chandler Bridge Creek, yet no such luck. Is there any tips or advice you would be willing to share? Thank you!
I will be taking a day trip to Summerville tomorrow. I have read several of your previous blog posts and I’m fascinated! My husband and I live in the Brunswick/St. Simon’s Island area in Ga. We used to dig on a land site created from dredging for the local port. We have found hundreds of teeth there and even some megs. Unfortunately, that site has been closed down. Since that time we have been searching for new areas to hunt. This is how I discovered your blog. I have read some info regarding the Summerville area and it seems worth the trip. If you are willing to provide any info on location (s) to hunt or someone local to Summerville to talk to I would greatly appreciate it.
Went up to Summerville today and were excited to find a variety of things including what I have just discovered is a Squalodontoid tooth! Had to cut our excursion short as the mosquitos were huge and out in full force but we’ll be back. Thank you for all of the info that you share on here. My kids were all thrilled to have found things on their own. What a thrill!
I have recently become facinated with sharks teeth and I find it very relaxing to look for them. I have only found small ones and I live in Summerville which I thought it would be easy to find them here.
I would love to know where I can go besides the YMCA that is not a deep creek that I could take my children to. I would like out hunting to be without fear of gators eating any of us lol. Please email me and maybe we could talk further. Thank you!
I am in South Carolina for a while as my friends are moving away, We are looking to go to the Chandler Creek Formation but don’t know where to access it from, or where to find the teeth from.
If you could please Email me.