Belgrade Community Science, 2018


In May of 2018, FOSSIL collaborated with the Special Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum (SFAFM) to host a community science dig at the Belgrade Mine in North Carolina. FOSSIL was joined by 10 individuals from around the US, who were selected to participate based on their completion of the FOSSIL Community Survey.

At the mine, participants searched through sediment piles from the Belgrade formation, which had been graciously set aside by the mine manager and staff. The goal was to find rare extinct land mammals from the Belgrade layer, a Miocene deposit from 5- 20 million years ago. After three hours of diligent sifting, participants collected bags of specimens and buckets of matrix for further analysis at the Florida Museum. The research on this material is ongoing, and we’re excited to keep the community updated on what we find. So far, the matrix has revealed an assemblage of marine fishes, including pufferfish, gar, barracuda, and drum fish. A surprising find has been a colubrid snake vertebra, the first of its kind documented at Belgrade! You can see a 3D scan of that specimen, created by Jeanette Pirlo, here:

We’d like to thank Martin Marietta, Mine Manager Doug Fetsko, and the staff of the Belgrade Mine for making this research opportunity possible, and for showing us such wonderful hospitality while at the mine. We also appreciate the efforts of SFAFM president Lee Cone for helping coordinate this citizen science project. To learn about the trip from a participant’s perspective, read Hunter Thurmond’s article about his experience here:


Prior to dig, participants learned more about the research through an interactive webinar hosted by The FOSSIL Project. You can view a recording of the webinar here:


July 2019 Update

In the year since we gathered at Belgrade for the first myFOSSIL community science dig, we’ve had students, volunteers, and staff hard at work sorting through the specimens you collected. More than 1,500 specimens have been examined and identified as part of this process! Though the detailed examination of these fossils is still ongoing, we wanted to share with you a preliminary report of the results.


Below you will find the the Belgrade 2018 Community Science Report. It contains a summary of the fossils found, as well as lists and images of the specimens discovered by individual collectors. You may notice two collectors’ names on a single report, this was done when bags were found nested within one another or had two labels. Since we couldn’t be sure of the exact collector we decided to give credit to both!


These results are preliminary, and some identification may change with further examination of the fossils. We remain truly impressed with the amount of material discovered, and want to again thank all of the participants for their contributions to this research endeavor.