I posted about Mastodon State Park awhile back when we had quickly popped in without cameras. I am shocked to find I have been meaning to get back and add more photos for almost a year. Time flies when you're having fun! Of course, I finally make it back, only to find that I left my memory card in my laptop, so I still had to update with a cell phone camera. At least I have a better cell phone this year!
Mastondon State Park is home to the Kimmswick Bone Bed, a deposit of Pleistocene era fossils, including mastodon. The visitors center has a mastodon skeleton, tusk and leg bone on display, as well as a tooth that you can touch!
There are also bones from other animals, including the giant beaver (the largest rodent) and peccary, which was a large pig-like mammal. Both of these specimens were found in Missouri.
The people who lived in this area about 11,000 years ago are called the Clovis people, a Paleo-Indian group named for their distinctive spear tip, first discovered at a site near Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis people were nomadic, and this is what their camp site may have looked like.
The Clovis people used the skin of the giant ground sloth, though archaeologists are not sure for what purpose. You can see one of the Clovis carrying a skin above, and this is what the Harlan's ground sloth looked like:
There is also a cave on the property known as Heinz Cave where many fossils have been excavated. You know I love a good diorama.
Outside the museum, there are a couple trails with audio tours that you can follow. This area was once the site of a quarry. You need to be able to go up and down about 3 flights of stairs to get down to the bone bed (no bones are exposed these days).
Our first trip to Mastodon was where we learned about the Pocket Ranger app for iPhone and Android, which I am a big fan of. It has all the details you need about all the state parks, PLUS there are geochallenges! Download it today and you'll be surprised at the state historic sites that are right in your backyard.