Featured Site – Mastodon State Historic Site

Restoration of Pliocene fauna of North America, on a mural made for the Smithsonian

Mastodon State Historic Site – Imperial, Missouri

Mastodon State Historic Site is an archaeological and paleontological site in Imperial, Missouri, containing the Kimmswick Bone Bed. Bones of mastodons and other now-extinct animals were first found here in the early 19th century. The area gained fame as one of the most extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits in the country and attracted scientific interest worldwide.

Museum display at Mastodon State Historic Site

Museum display at Mastodon State Historic Site

Archaeological history was made at the site in 1979 when scientists excavated a stone spear point made by hunters of the Clovis culture (14,000 – 10,000 years ago) in direct association with mastodon bones. This was the first solid evidence of the coexistence of people and these giant prehistoric beasts.

Comparison of Woolly mammoth and American mastodon

Comparison of Woolly mammoth and American mastodon

Today, the 425-acre property preserves this National Register of Historic Places site and provides recreational opportunities. A museum tells the natural and cultural story of the oldest American Indian site one can visit in the state’s park system. A full-size replica of a mastodon skeleton highlights the exhibits. A picnic area, several trails and a special-use campground offer chances to explore the land where the lives of Native Americans and mastodons once intertwined.

Restoration of Pliocene fauna of North America, on a mural made for the Smithsonian

Restoration of Pliocene fauna of North America, on a mural made for the Smithsonian

Looking to take a trip to where something big happened? Try Mastodon State Historic Site. The site is the home of the Kimmswick Bone Bed, one of the most famous and extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits of fossils, including a number of bones of giant mastodons. Interpretative trails and picnic sites dot the landscape and a museum tells the natural and cultural story of the Clovis culture, which existed in the area between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago.

This video from the Museum’s Florida Fossils exhibit describes the Pliocene Epoch, 5 million to 2 million years ago The formation of a land bridge across Panama in Central America about 3 million years ago was a major biotic event. Both North and South America had been previously isolated for millions of years. Each had evolved its own unique flora and fauna.