Mississippi is an intriguing area in terms of dinosaur fossils. After all, the vast majority of Mississippi was underwater during the time the dinosaurs were alive. While few dinosaurs apparently lived in this part of the world at that time, the state was not completely devoid of them. Today, we’re going to examine 5 dinosaurs that lived in Mississippi.
We’ll tell you everything we know about the types of dinosaurs that lived in this area. Moreover, we’ll tell you where you can see fossils of the dinosaurs.
What Is Mississippi’s State Dinosaur?
Mississippi does not have a state dinosaur. However, this area has a state fossil. The fossil belongs to Basilosaurus cetoides, a prehistoric whale genus that was mistaken for a massive dinosaur. Oddly enough, this is the same state fossil for Alabama as well. This creature measured as long as 60 feet!
The remains of this whale have been found in areas that were once coastlines for the state of Mississippi. Although it may seem confusing that a large whale would end up in the middle of a state, you have to remember that most of Mississippi was covered in water throughout much of the Cretaceous period.
As a result, some people believe that Mississippi was not home to any dinosaurs. That’s true for the majority of the state. However, the far northeastern point of the state was covered in shallow water or was not covered in water at all.
The northeastern part of Mississippi is where paleontologists and geologists have recovered most of the dinosaur fossils. However, a few recent discoveries have been found in other parts of the state.
What Are the 5 Dinosaurs that Lived in Mississippi
Mississippi was not home to a great number of dinosaurs. However, geologists, paleontologists, and some regular people digging in the right place have found fossil evidence of five types of dinosaurs. Some of these dinosaurs have been identified, but some of them have not.
That’s why a few of the creatures on this list are merely referred to by their genus instead of a particular species. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five dinosaurs that lived in Mississippi.
1. Unidentified Theropod
Fossils from an unidentified theropod were found in Mississippi. T-rex is among the most famous members of the Theropoda clade. However, the fossils found in Mississippi were not those of a T-rex. Given the proximity to Alabama, the remains could belong to Appalachiosaurus, a bipedal carnivore that lived in Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
According to information from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Office of Geology, the only evidence of this creature was a single tooth. That’s not a lot to go off of, but it’s enough to consider that this animal lived here.
Roughly 85 million years ago, ostrich-like creatures from the Ornithomimidae family roamed Mississippi. Recent discoveries of theropod remains suggest that at least two species of Ornithomimosaurs, bipedal bird mimics, once roamed this part of the country. However, scientists have not been able to identify the fossil’s species.
The fossils only show that one of the species was quite large, and the other was rather small. The range in size of Ornithomimosaurs makes it difficult to specifically identify the creatures.
Yet another type of theropod was found to live in Mississippi. Saurornitholestes was a dromaeosaurid. These smaller theropods resembled a Velociraptor in terms of their height, weight, and length. They only weighed about 2 feet tall at the hips, measured just under 6 feet long, and weighed about 20 to 25 pounds.
Once again, researchers only found teeth of this dinosaur in the state. That’s not much to go on in terms of fossil evidence, but it’s enough to know they roamed the area.
Evidence of an unidentified ceratopsian was also found in Mississippi. A paleontology curator named George Phillips discovered a tooth in the southeastern part of Mississippi. This tooth belonged to a member of the Ceratopsidae family. This family of dinosaurs includes large, horned reptiles like the Triceratops.
The 2016 discovery is exciting for paleontologists in Mississippi even though it’s impossible to tell which creature this tooth belonged to. The location of the fossilized tooth and the fact that it comes from a dinosaur previously unseen in these parts make it very special.
An unidentified hadrosaurid also lived in Mississippi. According to the reports about this discovery, several fragments were recovered. The scientists obtained cheek teeth, jaw fragments, vertebrae, toe bones, and other pieces of the dinosaur.
Hadrosaurs are duck-billed dinosaurs. They are members of the ornithischian family. Scientists believe that some of them could have walked on two legs but also used their front legs for walking or balancing while obtaining food.
These large herbivores lived during the Late Cretaceous period. Evidence of these dinosaurs is often found in Asia as well as North America.
Where Can You See Fossils of Dinosaurs that Lived in Mississippi?
If you would like to see the fossil evidence of dinosaurs in Mississippi, you don’t have many options. Remember, fossil evidence of dinosaurs in Mississippi is scant at best. Still, your best bet is to go to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. This place has many different resources for students, teachers, and curious adults that want to learn more about dinosaurs.
The museum also hosts fossil shows where you may see a display of the fossils found in Mississippi and beyond. This complex is home to a nature trail with six models of dinosaurs such as the Appalachiosaurus, T-Rex, Triceratops, and more.
The museum also has other features available, and it’s open to the public every day of the week with variable hours. They’re closed on most major holidays.
Even though you won’t see a full skeleton of a hulking dinosaur in this state, it’s worth learning about how scientists obtained and examined the fossils that make up the existing collections.
Summary of 5 Dinosaurs That Lived in Mississippi
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- Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society, Available here: http://www.memphisgeology.org/images/rocknews0315.pdf
- Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Office of Geology, Available here: https://www.mdeq.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Circular-4.pdf
- Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Available here: https://www.mdeq.ms.gov/geology/fossil-friday/#:~:text=Many%20people%20think%20of%20Mississippi's,seen%20with%20the%20naked%20eye
- University of Alabama, Available here: https://news.ua.edu/2017/02/museums-collections-spotlight-basilosaurus-cetoides/#:~:text=Basilosaurus%20cetoides%20is%20an%20early,and%20Choctaw%20counties%20are%20today