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The Lower Waccamaw Formation contains a rich basal Pleistocene (early Gelasian, 2.4-2.0 million years old) fauna with an extreme abundance and diversity of mollusks (>90% of the fossils and 900+ species) in addition to various echinoderms, arthropods, annelids, corals, bryozoans, and vertebrates. Based upon the ranges of the extant species, the climate seems to have been warmer than today. This diverse subtropical fauna can be found in patches in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. It is roughly equivalent to the modern fauna of central South Carolina to North Florida, however, there was dramatic faunal turnover about 1.7 MYA and the modern Carolinian fauna is much more similar to the modern Caribbean fauna than the Waccamaw Formation fossils are to equivalent age Caribbean faunas.

Fossils have been known from the Lower Waccamaw Formation since prehistory. Although the first scientific study was Tuomey and Holmes, 1856,no single monograph exists.

Roughly 40% of the species are extant. The species derive from multiple habitats, including 30-50 m sandy-bottom shelf, cementing bivalve reef, 10-20 m sandy-bottom shelf, surf to subtidal, saltmarsh, muddy-bottom sound, and freshwater to brackish.

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Southeastern NC, Lower Waccamaw formation


Marine Biology

Waccamaw Mollusca Review Copy Pt. 5: Conoidea