Rock found in Mississippi proves to be fossilized tooth from prehistoric ‘hell pig’
A strange black rock found recently in eastern Mississippi turned out to be a tooth from a species of prehistoric creature occasionally referred to as “giant killer pigs from hell.”
The fossil, about the size of a candy bar, belonged to an entelodont — better known as a hell pig, according to a Facebook post from the Mississippi Archaeological Association’s Delta Chapter.
James Starnes of the chapter calls the tooth an “incredible find” in the post.
“If you think we are living in strange times now…imagine what it was like in Mississippi during the Oligocene some 26 million years ago,” Starnes wrote, adding the fossil “offers an important rare window into life on earth at that time.”
Hell pigs, also known as terminator pigs, were the size of a hippopotamus, weighing as much as 2,000 pounds with a three-foot-long skull, according to Livescience.com.
The tooth was found by fossil collector Cody Beech in Wayne County, while he was poking around in a rock formation known as the Chickasawhay/Payne’s Hammock Limestone, Starnes told McClatchy News.
The formation is being studied by the state’s Office of Geology and Museum of Natural Science, the post said.
Starnes, who runs a research program at the state’s Office of Geology, told McClatchy News the formation recently got the attention of researchers after it was found to host “important vertebrate fossils.”
Though entelodonts are considered “close kin to pigs,” research in the past decade has revealed they are more closely related to hippos, according to ScientificAmerican.com. The same research found they had the ability to bite “little camels” in half, the site says.
“Large scars, up to 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) deep, found on the remains of hell pigs suggests that they fought with their own kind,” LiveScience.com reports. “Research also suggest that one hell pig would even put another’s head in its mouth during a fight.”
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