Rare Find: Jawbone fossil of an American lion found 11,000 years ago in the Mississippi River sandbar

Rare Find: Jawbone fossil of an American lion found 11,000 years ago in the Mississippi River sandbar

(Photo: Augustios Paleo / Wikimedia Commons)
A rare find of a jawbone fossil from an American lion that roamed the earth 11,000 years ago was found by a man walking along the exposed sandbar in the Mississippi River. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

A man taking a walk along the exposed Mississippi River sandbar came across a rare discovery of a jawbone fossil belonging to an American lion that roamed the planet 11,000 years ago.

Little did Wiley Prewitt of Exford, Mississippi, walk across a fossilized animal that was about 11,000 years old.

Prewitt was poking around an exposed sandbar near Rosedale, about 140 miles northwest of Jackson, on October 26, a result of the low water level of the Mississippi River, and discovered what appeared to be a jawbone with black teeth.

Prewitt could tell immediately from the teeth that it was a carnivore’s jawbone, but I dared not hope that it was from an American lion. He claimed it seemed right, but he didn’t allow himself to believe it.

Prewitt sought advice from a specialist while attending the Mississippi Fossil and Artifact Symposium & Exhibition three days later.

Fourth fossil evidence of an American lion

It was the fossilized jawbone of an American lion, which was the continent’s largest big cat until its extinction. According to the National Park Service, the American lion is larger than the saber-toothed tiger, measuring 4 feet tall, 8 feet long and weighing 1,000 pounds.

The giants, who lived 340,000 years ago, hunted large animals across the continent, from southern Mexico to Alaska, reports Interesting Engineering.

Prewitt’s discovery was only the fourth case of the lion’s fossilization; The first three were discovered in Mississippi.

Unexpectedly, these previously discovered fossils were on display at the symposium.

According to event organizer Anna Reginelli, Prewitt made history by emerging with a definitive fossil of an American lion. Reginelli claimed that while significant artifacts and fossils attended her outreach events and programs, nothing had ever been as significant as the recently discovered American lion fossil, reports the Sun Herald.

Reginelli pointed out that Natchez, Mississippi became the site of the first discovery of the extinct American lion in the 1830s. Before this well-known discovery in Mississippi, no one knew that giant lions existed in North America. The two remaining authentic American lion fossils were found on the Mississippi River near Rosedale and Clarksdale, Mississippi areas.

Also read: “Dragon of Death” – fossils of massive reptiles unearthed in Argentina

Biggest cat, biggest deal in paleontology

According to George Phillips, curator of paleontology at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the incident was one of those real cases that required a few blinks. Fossils are so scarce in the east that it is impossible to confirm the existence of different subspecies of American lions.

One of the greatest finds in paleontology, according to James Starnes, a geologist with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. He went on to express his wish that the fossil would eventually be preserved in a laboratory or museum collection for research purposes.

Starnes added that the fossil is so rare that any knowledge gleaned from it will help to learn so much more about the ancient animal, not just as a species but also its role in the Pleistocene habitat of the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain, Newsbreak reports .

Related article: Fossil found in Scottish Highlands sparks speculation about Scotland’s national animal: the unicorn

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