During the past several years Lonnie and Freida Looper of Greenville, Mississippi have collected over 500 fossil bones of Ice Age animals which lived in the Mississippi Delta/Yazoo Basin between 11,000 years to 240,000 years ago. They were often accompanied by their son, Zachary Horne, who contributed many rare and exciting finds. These animals lived during the Rancholabrean Epoch which gets its name from the famous "Tar pits" locality in Los Angeles, California.

The family found these treasures by walking gravel bars in the Mississippi River bed during seasonal low water levels. All of the fossils were recovered between river mile markers 499 (near the town of Glen Allen, Mississippi) and 639 (a point on a line with Sherard and Clarksdale, Mississippi). Native American artifacts including pottery, atlatl weights, and spearpoints are also present on the gravel bars as are 50-million year old Eocene shells, shark teeth and whale bones from the Jackson Group. For a map showing the Eocene coastline of the Gulf of Mexico click here.

A good day on a Mississippi River gravel bar It is a good bet, since many of these Ice Age fossils are in such good condition, that they probably eroded from our loess. This idea is also supported by the fact that these are mostly land animals. Similar fossils of this age are occasionally found in loess deposits, almost always by accident, by people moving earth, but amateur collectors can find mastodon teeth and other Ice Age animal remains by walking the streams and ravines in loess country. For a map showing Fisk's theory of how the Mississippi Delta/Yazoo Basin was formed and a geologic map of the state click here.

The family's discoveries include possibly the two rarest Ice Age bones remaining in Mississippi, a great short-faced bear jaw and a manatee limb bone. The giant bear is known from only 105 localities worldwide, and the manatee radius-ulna is described as "one of only two manatee elements ever found in the interior of the Ohio-Miss. River valley system". It was recently written up in the scientific journal Marine Mammal Science. Their collection is fully documented, professionally preserved, digitally photographed, and inventoried.

Email Lonnie and Freida Looper at info@cwreplicas.com

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