2007-07-12

upper cretaceous fossils of frankstown, mississippi


Concretions in Twenty Mile Creek, Frankstown, Mississippi.

Once or twice a year MAGS members travel to Frankstown, Mississippi to search for sharks' teeth and other vertebrate fossils in the creekbed sand of Twenty Mile Creek.

During the summer of 1990, construction on Highway 45, about seven miles south of Booneville, Prentiss County, in northeastern Mississippi revealed two concentrated fossil beds. One contained an abundance of sharks' teeth and the other an abundance of oyster shells.

The fossils in the Frankstown creekbed are about 75 million years old. These fossils come from the base of the Demopolis Formation, just above the Coffee Sand. The Coffee Sand can be seen in the exposure along Twenty Mile Creek near where Highway 45 crosses it. One interesting aspect of the Coffee Sand is the large boulder-sized concretions that are scattered along the creekbed. I took the picture above on a recent visit to Frankstown. After many visits to this location, I am still fascinated by these structures. Concretions are rounded masses of rock that formed by the cementation of sediments where lime or silica is concentrated in certain layers of ground water. Though the Coffee Sand concretions of Twenty Mile Creek are boulder-like in size and shape, they were not rounded by being rolled along the creek bottom. Rather, they acquired their rounded shape by cementation in place within the formation, and being sculpted by the once-swift currents of Twenty Mile Creek.

Many fossils from the Frankstown site are from groups of animals that died out in a great extinction at the end of the Mesozoic, indicating that the site is no younger than the Cretaceous Period. These animals include the oyster Exogyra, ammonites, some of the sharks (Hybodus, Squalicorax), some of the rays (the sclerorhynchid sawfish), some of the bony fishes, the mosasaurs and the dinosaurs.

The cause of the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous is believed to have been an asteroid impact which spread a layer of soot across the earth, filling the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and causing plants (and the animals that depended on them) to die. One interesting detail of the great extinction is that not everything died. Gars, turtles, crocodiles, opossums and many others lived on as if nothing had ever happened.

A partial list of fossils found at the Frankstown site include: formaminifera, sponge, arthropod (ostracod, crustaceans), mollusks (oysters, jingel shells, scallop, gastropod, scaphopod), annelid worms, brachiopod, bryozoan, more than 12 varieties of shark, rays, bony fish, turtles, mosasaur, crocodiles, and dinosaurs (theropod, hadrosaurid); microfossils and trace fossils.

SOURCE: Earl Manning and David Dockery. A Guide to the Frankstown Vertebrate Fossil Locality (Upper Cretaceoous), Prentiss County, Mississippi. Circular 4; Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Office of Geology. Jackson, Mississippi. 1992.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

A sewer line is being installed next to our office. One of our engineers walked out to see the excavation and noticed a small area containing some curious rocks. We are in an area that contains much sandstone (west central Arkansas, H35). The rocks showed what I would call non circular rings. The core of the rock would have sand that was almost loose. It could be easily scooped out. The next layer would be very dark stone that was very hard, the next layer may be a softer lighter colored sandstone. The layers vary from 1/8 to about 1 1/2 inches thick. We could not figure out the mechanism that would cause such layering. The broken rocks showed a very good and beautiful cross section. It would be easier to explain if the rocks were round but the size and shape was random as were the layers. If anyone has any idea how these are formed, our engineering department would appreciate the information.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you could just go down there and look for yourself. My husband is returning form Iraq in a couple of months and he would really love to go look. He found this location on his own and he is really excited about it. Any info would be appreciated. My email is alyssagray1987@yahoo.com. Thank you soo much!

argon(one) said...

Yes. The Cretaceous Fossil Park at Frankstown, Mississippi is open to the public. You can go there and explore the creek anytime, daylight til dusk. The fossils you find are yours to keep, and there are ususally a lot of fossils to find. Good luck and have fun!

Anonymous said...

so glad I found your blog!! It's great to find new things in Mississippi.

margaret said...

Wow, my husband and I took our two boys, 7 & 3 1/2, to Frankstown, MS in search of fossils and sharks teeth and couldn't believe our luck! In less than 3 hours, we found 26 fossilized teeth. What an experience! The park was hard to find - but worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

how do we find this place? My 11 year old son has been dreaming of doing this for years... we had heard of a river in Florida where we could do this, but we'll be in MS the week of Nov 22, and would like to take a day trip here if we can figure out how to get here.

argon(one) said...

Frankstown is very easy to find. It is located in the northeastern corner of Mississippi. Take Hwy 45 south from Corinth, or north from Tupelo. If you are coming from the north, you will pass Hwy 4. About 8 miles south of that intersection on Hwy 45, will be a Mississippi County Road and a bridge, Turn left on that county road, before you cross the bridge. If you cross the bridge and come to Hwy 30, you've gone too far. Turn around and go one mile south to the bridge. Turn right on the county road immediately past the bridge. You will find the fossil park immediately on the right, marked only by a stone monolith telling a little bit about the park. Park on the bluff overlooking the creek. There are paths leading down to the creek. There are teeth to be found right there near the parking area or you can go north in the creek and find lots of teeth also. Have fun.

Anonymous said...

Is this place close to Memphis, tn? Is there anywhere to find minerals on our own and not buying them in a store. Where is the best place? I don't want to travel to the other side of tn.

argon(one) said...

Frankstown is about an hour southeast of Memphis, but it is worth the drive. My family and I are members of the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society and we go on field trips once a month to collect minerals or fossils. You might consider visiting the club. We meet the second Friday of every month, 7:30pm at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. Visit the website for directions and more details. www.memphisgeology.org

Byron said...

Let me know next time you come down to frankstown, i'll show you some real mind blowers. We went today to a place near New Albany (West of Frankstown a good piece, along US-78) and found some teeth like I haven't seen before. Usually find Exogyra and Echinoids in this particular locale. There are Nautiloids, Crabs, monstrous Ammonites, Crinoids (still standing, frozen in place), Bryzoans, tons and tons of stuff.

Byron said...

For that matter, just about anyone is welcome if you give me enough notice and weather is agreeable. Be warned, alot of these sites are tough to get in and out, and some of this stuff is monstrously heavy.

Brent said...

Byron, please let me know about this place in New Albany. I teach in Sardis and come home to Iuka every weekend, I'd like to stop in New Albany and see what's there. bhbonds@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Byron, A small group of us from the Huntsville (Alabama) Gem and Mineral Society went fossil collecting a couple weekends ago at an old quarry at Trebloc. Some of us were thinking of returning, but we might like to stop by the sites you mention. Thanks for writing about them. Scott scott.mccoy@eds.com.

argon(one) said...

If you leave a comment here, please state it in English, since that is the only language I understand. Because I cannot determine the content of a comment left in a different language, I must delete it.

Nothing personal, I just want to make sure the comments here are family-friendly. Thank you for your understanding.

Byron said...

Correction to my post on July 03, 2009. those "Teeth" were steinkerns. They were all straight. I don't remember the suspected species right offhand.

Anonymous said...

I live in tupelo and would love to go to new albany to search. Can anyone tell me exactly where to go hunting at. I am very familuary with the area. mech99_1999@yahoo.com

Don In Alabama said...

I'm heading to the park on Sunday, does anyone have any locations to search other than the park in the area?

aliza said...

Thank you so much for this!!!! I live in Houston, TX but this place sounds so good I'll drive there. I'm dying to check it out. I plan on heading out as soon as it warms up.

Maybe we could meet up and hunt together? I can't thank you enough. I've had a rough year and this has given me something to look forward to.

Lenny said...

Hi my name is Lenny. I've been hunting for sharks teeth and other cool stuff in Frankstown creek for several years now. I know where to go and how to do it. Because of my experience, I find 30-40 sharks teeth every time I go. I usually hunt for 2 or 3 hours. I've never taken anyone except my daughter of 9 years old. If someone were to pay me I might take them to my honey hole with my special sifter and guarantee them 30 to 50 sharks teeth. I've never considered taking anyone and charging them but i'm self employed and business is slow and gas is killing me. The season is now, in 2 months the water will be too low and algea will take over everything in the water. My number is 662-523-2432.

Thomas said...

Byron is that offer and location still good? If so email me I would love to be able to take my 3 kids to a location like that. My email is thomas.manns@memphis.gov

Hope to hear from you soon.

Sgt.Thomas Manns
Memphis Police Dept.

rebecca said...

Hello,Argon!
My daughter is in Memphis for a short visit and her boyfriend is coming in from New York to meet the family.He will be here from Sunday Aug.7-Friday Aug.12, and we will be celebrating his birthday. He likes sharks and dinosaurs, and I would like to arrange someone to take them to Frankstown,Ms. to hunt for shark teeth fossils as my present to him. My daughter thinks that he would REALLY like this. As payment I would give a signed poster-sized print of any of her art of your choosing.This regularly sells for $150. Go to www.deviantart.com and type in Leashe in the search box to view some of her Pokemon art.Please call me at 901-282-9979.I am 50 years of age and not a computer aficionado. We went on a fossil hunt with MAGS many years ago and had a great time.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Rebecca

Anonymous said...

I've been to Frankstown numerous times and have always found more than my friends. The same rule applies here as it does when you're at a fee-dig mine. The more material you move, the more you'll find. Here is the key to moving more material. Build a sifter from PVC pipe with hardware cloth zip-tied to it. Also, run a line about 3' long tied to the sifter with a carabiner at the other end hooked to a belt loop. You'll be suprised at how well this works when you're in waist deep water.

Scott Carpenter said...

Is there a fossiliferous outcrop near Jackson, MS? I have heard the Moodys Branch outcrops there. Thanks. Escottcarp@att.net

Anonymous said...

My parents took my kids when they wer little here and now they are grown with children of their own. I would like to take my grandchildren. I need to know if the area is accessable by car and if there are clear places to enter that water that are not overgrown with weeds and too snakey?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an MSU architecture student living in Starkville, always loved fossil hunting in our state. I've been to Frankstown numerous times and found substantial amounts of fossils both there and along the Mississippi River. I haven't been able to travel to the river lately or up to Frankstown, so I've been searching for some local places to hunt. Are there any outcrops/nice road cuts around the starkville/columbus area that anyone knows of to find cretaceous fossils? Any suggestions would be great, email me at jts285@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Brent, Byron or whoever may be local...I live just out of New Albany & would love to go hunting tis spring if you could let me know, or show me where to go.My e-mail is barbara_crump@att.net Thanks in advance!

Connie said...

Hell creek in new Albany? My kids and i love fossil hunting but had no luck there.maybe just didn't get in the right spots. I did buy two huge fossils off of a guy and he said they came out of Hell creek . If anyone has info where to look in Hell creek please share conniebself@yahoo.com thanks. I live close to etta ms. We are always in our creek(Mitchell creek) mainly old snuff jars and bottles found.has a lot of neat sandstone. Find pieces of Pertified wood

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from west Arkansas was asking on this Blogger back in 2007 about sand formations that looked like tubes. These are probably fulgerites, formed when lightning strikes sandy ground and melts the tube wall, but not the core. Ones from Grenada Lake, south side near the dam, in MS are in red sand and have walls smooth inside and out, and are up to a foot long (at least that is how much was exposed). Nothing to do with Frankstown, but anonymous did ask.

Anonymous said...

The architecture student from MSU should look a quarter mile south of the old Hwy82 bridge across the Luxapalila River in Columbus MS - look for the grey high banks on the east side. Shark teeth, wood partly petrified and partly peat, and other stuff.

Anonymous said...

It was on the tip of my tounge and driving me nuts, yes, fulgerites!
N.west Mississippi is my favorite place anywhere near here to fossil hunt. Little treasure troves of ancient history from the sea that watched the peak of the giant creatures, and the grand finale soon after. Fossil hunting was the glue between me and my sons throughout their childhood. Now I get to do it all over again, this time with tom-girls.
They want to know about birds and frogs and trees and stars and dinosaurs and rocks and......
I got this one.

Michael Lambert II said...

I'm thinking about coming that way to collect fossils and go to Cretaceous park, u up for some fossil collecting?