Museum exhibiting fossils

Published 11:48 am Saturday, April 12, 2014


Prehistoric sharks, etc.COURTLAND—A new exhibit at the Museum of Southampton History is sure to take visitors back millions of years; back to the time when Southampton and the surrounding counties were covered by the Paleo-Atlantic Ocean and huge sea creatures swam where we stand today.

The long-awaited fossil exhibit has been completed and will be available to the public today, April 12, at noon.

Created by retired exhibits fabricator, Bill Hancock, the display is presented in three showcases. One contains fossil shells, some of which have been extinct for 4 million years and another shows pieces of petrified wood, which came from trees that also lived millions of years ago. Included with this display is a fragment of a mastodon tooth, an ancestor of elephants that became extinct 10,000 years ago.

The third shows whale vertebrae, teeth from several species of sharks and many other items, all of which were found either in the Nottoway and Meherrin Rivers or excavations in the county.

The fossils were contributed by Francis Widmeyer, John Bunch and Julian Johnson, as well as Hancock and others, while Bill Vick and Jimmy Holland made the showcases.

“We are very appreciative of their generosity,” Hancock said. “This exhibit could not have come together without their help.”

In putting the exhibit together, he was guided by Invertebrate paleontologist Dr. Lauck W. Ward, curator emeritus at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

“He patiently edited the scripts that I wrote and identified bio-facts. His help was invaluable,” Hancock said.

Dawn Holland, chairwoman of the museum, said the museum will also be open on Sundays, April 13, 20, and 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Saturday April 26 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. during the Franklin Garden Tour.

Other exhibits include the military display and the train and old historic buildings display.