Ancient Artifacts Discovered in Stomach of Huge Mississippi Alligator
A Mississippi alligator is making headlines for its very sophisticated taste in food.
A few months ago, after hearing stories about the crazy things that had been discovered in the bellies of alligators, Shane Smith, owner of Red Antler Processing in Yazoo City, Mississippi, started examining the contents of the big gators he processed.
Smith told the Clarion Ledger that he was sifting through the contents of a 750-pound, 13-foot, 5-inch alligator from Eagle Lake recently, when he discovered two strange objects, including what appeared to be a broken stone arrowhead.
"Everybody was standing around like I was opening a Christmas present," he told the paper. "We kind of put it all in a bin.
James Starnes, Director of Surface Geology and Surface Mapping for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality examined a photograph of the findings. He identified what Smith believed to be an arrowhead as an "atlatl dart point," part of a spear made around 5000-6000 BC.
'That is the latter part of the Early Archaic and early part of the Middle Archaic (periods)," Starnes told the Clarion Ledger. "How the base is made is real tell-tale in estimating the time period."
He also identified the other unusual object—a heavy, tear-shaped stone with two holes in it— as a hematite plummet dating back to the Late Archaic Period, or about 1700 BC.
"The plummets, we really have no idea what they were used for," Starnes told the paper. "These things had some significance, but we have no idea. We can only guess."
The reason why these treasures ended up in the gator's stomach, however, is much less of a mystery.
"Alligators, like other animals such as birds and other reptiles, are known for ingesting grit and rocks to help with digestion," Ricky Flynt, Alligator Program coordinator for Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, explained to the Clarion Ledger "We know alligators and crocodiles do that."
Unlike chickens and ducks, alligators don't have gizzards, so the stones end up in their stomachs.
"Sticks, wood; things they can't digest get into their stomachs," Flynt said. "I found a piece of cypress in an alligator's stomach that was 15 inches long."