Rare American lion fossil found in Mississippi River

A fossil of an American lion was found in the Mississippi River.
A fossil of an American lion was found in the Mississippi River.(Museum of Natural Science)
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 1:57 PM CST
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(CNN) – An unexpected discovery in the drought-stricken Mississippi river has paleontologists excited.

A fragment of a fossilized jaw bone with a tooth was discovered, and experts believe it’s from a lion species that went extinct thousands of years ago.

An Oxford, Mississippi, resident came across the artifact when he saw something black sticking out of a sandbar in late October.

He thought it could be from the long-gone large American lion, and that was confirmed by experts at a nearby fossil and artifact symposium and exhibition.

The panthera atrox, otherwise known as the large American lion, went extinct roughly 11,000 years ago.

A fossil from an American lion was found in the Mississippi River.
A fossil from an American lion was found in the Mississippi River.(Museum of Natural Science)

Experts say this lion was a larger version of the African lion by about 25%. It was about 4-feet tall, and 5- to 8-feet long.

The animals weighed at least 500 pounds with some topping 1,000.

The American lion lived on the continent for more than 300,000 years during the ice age before extinction.

It’s believed only three other known fossils from these lions have been found in Mississippi.