CofC opens museum with $1.6 Million fossil collection

(Photos courtesy CofC)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The College of Charleston has gotten an extensive collection of fossils and is opening their exhibit to the public.The collector, Mace Brown, started collecting rocks when he was 13 and now, over 45 years later, his collection contains more than 87 species of shark teeth and fossils from around the world.The collection, valued at more than $1.6 million, has been donated to CofC's School of Sciences and Mathematics as part of the Mace Brown Natural History Museum."We are so pleased to have this exquisite collection of fossils at the College," says College of Charleston President P. George Benson. "This priceless resource will bring national and even international recognition to the College and be enjoyed by students, faculty, staff, visitors, and school children for generations to come. We are extremely grateful to Mace for his generosity and his leadership in helping the College create the Mace Brown Natural History Museum." The collection includes intact fossils, not casts or plastic replicas, and was recently visited by two different groups of scientists from the Smithsonian Institute's Natural History Museum, where officials say the collection is gaining recognition. "I wanted the collection to be in Charleston, in a location where fossils were the focus and a place where the public could see the specimens up close, not stored in cabinets out of the sight of the public," explains Mace Brown, a Mount Pleasant businessman.The majority of the fossils are North American land and sea creatures with more than 90 percent of the fossilized creatures native to South Carolina over a span of 400 million years ago. The collection includes complete skeletons of mammals such as a giant armadillo, a cave bear, and a saber-toothed cat. There are also Tyrannosaurus rex teeth; Triceratops horns; saltwater mosasaurs with snakelike detaching jaws; skeletons of a warthog-looking, buffalo-sized pig; and a dog-sized horse and camel. The collection also contains some of the best preserved specimens of ancient whales and porpoises in the world. The Mace Brown Natural History Museum is located on the second floor of the College's new School of Sciences and Mathematics Building on Calhoun Street and is open to the public. College officials said some scientists claim parts of the collection rival the Chicago Field Museum and the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum because of the quality of specimens and the number of new species that have yet to be classified. In the last year, four different groups of researchers from around the world have used the collection as part of their research and now not only will CofC students get to use the fossils as an educational resource but other college students and K-12 kids will have access as well.

The museums' hours are 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. everyday except Wednesday when the museum is closed.

You can visit the museum's website here.


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