07/25/08 — Wayne museum features prehistoric fossils exhibit

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Wayne museum features prehistoric fossils exhibit

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 25, 2008 1:58 PM

An exhibit of prehistoric fossils and shells is drawing more visitors to the Wayne County Museum than most historical displays, says museum manager Johnna Nelson.

The exhibit is very hands-on, Mrs. Nelson said, with stations at which visitors can handle fossils from the ocean bottom, examine the shells in them and dig for sharks' teeth submitted by fossil collector Marvin E. Underwood of Smithfield and buried in gravel from a phosphate mine near Aurora.

News-Argus/Greg Sousa

Cristianna Nelson shows the skull of a walrus, her favorite part of the new Prehistoric Fossils and Shells Exhibit at the Wayne County Museum.

Eastern North Carolina was covered by the sea millions of years ago.

Underwood will present a program on the exhibit and its significance Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. upstairs in the museum.

Another display was made available by amateur paleontologist George W. Powell Jr. and contains a cast of a prehistoric shark's tooth that he has at his home in Greenville. The shark that this tooth came from was called the Megalodon, or "Big Tooth," and would have been about 50-feet-long and weighed up to four tons.

Mrs. Nelson said Powell enjoys having people come to see his collection of more than 100,000 fossils that fill an addition he built onto his house for them.

Powell gives tours for people who call him at 252-756-8039 or send him an e-mail at powelli1@aol.com with the word "fossils" on the subject line.

More children than ever have come to the museum to see the exhibit, which opened July 8 and will remain open until Aug. 29. The fossils, many of which were found in Wayne and Johnston counties, seem to strike a special chord with young people, she said.