Pondering the Ages at the Aurora Fossil Museum in North Carolina
Aurora may be a tiny town (population 600), but it's guaranteed to make you think big—as in, expand your horizons back across 23 million years or so. Stop in at the Aurora Fossil Museum, about 30 miles from New Bern or Oriental, to contemplate a brain-boggling variety of Pleistocene, Pliocene, and Miocene marine fossils, many uncovered at the phosphate mine just down the road. Check out specimens from ancient seas—shark teeth the size of your face, a mastodon tusk, a walrus skull, a rare toothed whale skeleton—as well as local Native American artifacts. If you happen to be there in May, you'll catch a series of displays, lectures, and auctions at the Aurora Fossil Festival. Otherwise, throw your own paleontological party with a museum visit, a picnic lunch in the gazebo, and a few hours of treasure-hunting at the fossil pile across the street from the museum. The AFM staff will happily help you ID your finds.