In New Albany, Mississippi, scientists have discovered a rare dinosaur tooth.
What began as a dig for prehistoric marine fossils ended with an unexpected discovery.
In late July, paleontologist George Phillips was wading through a creek bed when he found the tooth of a species that walked the earth long before humans did.
“I knew right away, just within a couple of twists and turns of the surface of the crown, that I was dealing with a dinosaur tooth,” Phillips said.
The tooth belonged to a type of ceratopsian, or horned dinosaur.
It is now one of two horned dinosaur fossils to be found in the southeast United States.
Phillips believes it died while grazing on the shoreline and the tide washed it out to sea.
It’s final resting place was the ocean floor.
“We don’t expect to find anymore of this dinosaur,” Phillips said. “Typically that’s all we find. We just find a part of a dinosaur.”
Fossil collector Jon Cartier is assisting phillips with hunting for more pieces of the ceratopsidae.
“It’s not just about having a pretty rock,” Cartier said. “It’s about, you know, pulling something together that pulls into context all of the pieces of nature that made up that period of time.”
Director of the Union County Heritage Museum Jill Smith said community reaction has been nothing short of excitement.
“The children love it, so this just gives them a whole new reason to collect fossils, to look for fossils, to look at the creeks with a new eye,” she said.
The tooth is currently being studied by experts in Claremont, California.
It will stay there until analysis is complete.
Casts of the tooth will eventually be on display at a number of museums.
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