Museum paleontologist responds to fossil finding in Brunswick County

For immediate release ‐ July 28, 2021

Contact: Micah Beasley, 919.707.9970. Images available upon request

A curious and observant seven-year-old from Brunswick County named Rhett recently made a potential dinosaur discovery in his area and knew exactly who to write to in order to get the facts: the Museum!

Rhett’s inquiry is transcribed below:

Rhett's letter.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Hi! I’m Rhett and I’m seven years old. I found something that looks like a small peace of Dinosaur skin, I don’t realy know if it’s real dino skin. I sent it to see if you culd tell me if it’s realy is dinosaur skin. Please wright me back!!

P.S. You can ceep it if you want, and the dino skin is in the papper towl packege. But if you don’t want the dinosaur skin send it back!

From Rhett!
Sorry for misspellings!

So what was Rhett’s discovery? The Museum’s Research Curator of Paleontology, Dr. Christian Kammerer, has the answers. Read his reply below:

Dear Rhett,

Thank you for sending us your discovery! I am sorry to say that it is not dinosaur skin, but you have a good eye, because it is a fossil. Or rather, a lot of fossils — this is what we call a conglomerate, which is a bunch of little fragments of rocks (and in this case fossil shells) that have been cemented together.

These are the remains of animals that would have lived in the ocean — mostly seashells from things like clams and snails. The “scaly” texture that makes it look like dinosaur skin appears to be the imprint of a bryozoan (moss animal), a type of encrusting filter-feeder often found on shells.

Finally, while this one wasn’t a dinosaur, fossils from that group are found in North Carolina (mostly in the banks of the Tar and Cape Fear Rivers), so I would encourage you to keep looking — you never know when you’re going to find one!

Christian F. Kammerer, PhD.
Research Curator of Paleontology
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Rhett's fossil: a bryozoan and other tiny shellsA close-up image of Rhett’s fossil find.

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