Fossil Symposium

Saturday, August 13, 2022
9 AM - 2:30 PM


Space is limited. Prepaid registration is required by noon on Wednesday, August 10.

Registration includes continental breakfast, symposium lectures, and lunch.

Recommended for ages 8+ with a working knowledge of geology and paleontology.

9 AM
check-in and coffee social

10 AM – 12 PM
morning lectures

12 – 1 PM
lunch and PAG Business meeting

1 – 2:30 PM
afternoon lectures

Enjoy four lectures by some of the Southeast’s top paleontologists and lunch with fellow fossil lovers.


What was happening in the marine environments of the Upper Eocene of Georgia in and around the time of the Chesapeake Bay Impact?

Dr. John R. Anderson
Retired Professor of Geology and an Invertebrate Paleontologist

Dr. Anderson worked at Perimeter College of Georgia State University for 21 years and his last position before retiring was the Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA.  He has worked on Microgastropods of the marine units of the Pennsylvanian of North America as well as the marine fossils found in the Eocene of Georgia.

In Georgia, during the Upper Eocene, there was a seaway that extended from the modern-day cities of Augusta westward to Macon and then the seaway curved southwestward to the Gulf of Mexico.  Today we find evidence of this ancient seaway from the marine units of the Sandersville Member of the Barnwell Formation (Group) in central Georgia and the Ocmulgee Formation of west-central Georgia.  Each of these units are very fossiliferous and tell us that there was a very healthy marine environment that covered what is today the Coastal Plain physiographic province of Georgia.  There were vertebrates of dugong (sea cows), marine reptiles, and a host of sharks and skates.  The invertebrates were well represented as we find Bivalves, Gastropods, Bryozoa, Coral, Echinoids, Ostracods, and Foraminifera within these units as well.

The age of these Upper Eocene units has been determined based on the fossils.  My work has shown that the Sandersville – Ocmulgee unit is Middle Jacksonian in age based on the Bryozoa species found within these marine deposits. Other ages have been determined based on nannofossils and foraminifera.  These marine units are also bounded by two radiometric ages.  Below these units comes from the age of the Georgia Tektites (Georgiaites) interpreted to be from the Twiggs Clay which is stratigraphically below these units with an age of 35.2 Ma from K/Ar (Albins, 1997).  At the top of the Ocmulgee Formation a K/Ar age was determined from glauconite pellets with an age of 33.3 Ma + 1.0 Ma (Stephens et al., 2007).

Sedimentologically these units show silicification of some of the fossils and chert is found abundantly throughout these units.  A possible explanation for this silicification could be from the weathering of the Georgia Tektites and subsequent sediment deposited from the ejecta from the Chesapeake Bay impact and then precipitation of this siliceous material within the Sandersville-Ocmulgee Units post-deposition of each of these units and the ejecta material.

Recent editions to the Middle Eocene Hardie Mine vertebrate fauna (Clinchfield Formation) including a new genus and species Eosciana ebersoli

Ashley Quinn
Founder and current President of the Paleontology Association of Georgia, Collections Manager at the William P. Wall Museum of Natural History at Georgia College & State University

Georgia College & State University faculty, students, and staff have been collecting and publishing their finds from the Hardie Mine site in Gordon, Wilkinson County, Georgia for over 20 years. The herpetological and chondrichthyan faunas were described early in the 2000’s. Continued research and publications on this site in recent years has added much to the known fauna.

Backbones and Brains: Whale Evolution Through the Eyes of Georgiacetus vogtlensis

Dr. Katy Smith
Professor of Geology in the Department of Geology & Geography at Georgia Southern University and Curator of Paleontology of the Georgia Southern University Museum

Dr. Katy Smith usually studies North American mastodons and their relatives, but has dabbled in fossil whale evolution since joining Georgia Southern in 2010.

Georgiacetus vogtlensis is a 41-million-year-old ancient whale from Georgia, USA. As one of the oldest whales in North America, it is uniquely positioned to explore the land-to-sea transition evident in whale evolution. This talk will review some methods used to describe Georgiacetus‘s vertebral column and brain case, with implications for understanding its mode of locomotion and the evolution of large brain size in whales. 

From Collectors Like You

Ryan O. Roney
Curator, Tellus Science Museum

Tellus Science Museum’s fossil collection is mainly built through the generous donation of specimens from avocational and academic sources along with the fieldwork of museum staff.  The museum’s curator, Ryan Roney, will briefly review both the content of the fossil collection and the various sources that have helped form this collection, with special attention paid to the scientific research made possible with these specimens. Most importantly, he will address the ways in which local clubs and organizations are a vital part of building the collection at Tellus and aiding in research. Ryan will end his address with specific steps Fossil Symposium attendees can take to preserve and study Georgia’s paleontology through working with Tellus.

As Curator at Tellus Science Museum, Ryan cares for the rock, mineral, meteorite, and fossil collections. His main focus at Tellus is to build the collection with an eye to preserving and researching Georgia’s earth history. He is a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he previously earned a master’s degree in Geology. Ryan has bachelor’s degrees in Geology and Spanish from Georgia Southwestern State University and the University of West Georgia. Ryan has done paleontological fieldwork in Chile, Argentina, and throughout the Southeastern US. His current research includes South American echinoids, spatangoid echinoid evolution, and Georgia hyoliths. Ryan is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, tries to stay conversant in German, and annoys his wife with mispronounced attempts to learn French – in which he can only read the scientific literature on echinoids.

Curator Ryan Roney at Tellus Science Museum
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