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Prehistoric fossils found in a Church Point Bayou

Fossil pieces
Mammoth Exhibit Chicago
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 19, 2023

CHURCH POINT, La. — In 2019, prehistoric fossils were found in a bayou after a landowner found what looked like to be a large mammal tooth.

The landowner then went on to call the Division of Archaeology of Louisiana who reached out to Dr. Jennifer Hargrave, Director of the UL Science Museum and Professor of the School of Geosciences to further investigate.

Hargrave knew right away what it was, a mastodon tooth. A distant relative of the modern-day day elephant and the woolly mammoth.

"They called me and I knew it was a mastodon so I said absolutely I would be happy to go and take a look, a small team of us went out and I was amazed at what was there," said Hargrave. "It was more than just the mastodon tooth other animals were there as well, I knew it was something we can work on."

The mastodon fossils could be traced back to the Pleistocene era, which occurred tens of thousands of years ago, known also as the Ice Age.

Hannah Hawkins, a graduate student studying Geology and a concentration in Paleontology, presented her thesis on these findings at the UL Science Museum for Science on the Bayou.

"There's definitely more research that needs to be done at this site, but I think it is really extraordinary to find all these specimens in this one place," said Hawkins.

Finding fossils like these can help us better understand what life was like in prehistoric Louisiana. Especially when it is so rare due to the state's humid climate, which tends to erode bones faster.

"To find fossil finds in Louisiana, it kind of makes it a little bit more special, " said Hawkins.

The fossil location in Church Point is being kept secret for now since the site is still being excavated, to hopefully find and preserve more fossil discoveries.

If you think you might have fossils on your land, contact the UL School of Geosciences here.