The area that is now called Arkansas was once home to a number of prehistoric species, including mastodons, mammoths, and American lions.
But the state’s most popular discoveries are the prehistoric plants and animals known as dinosaurs.
Fossils of these creatures have been found all across the Southern United States and in Arkansas because this was once a tropical environment with warm water rivers flowing through it.
If you would like to explore fossils in Arkansas your best bet would be any hot springs or riverside locations.
These areas contain the rocks that preserve the remains of prehistoric animals, plants, and other organisms that have been dead for millions of years.
Fossils are also found in many places in Arkansas as long as you know where to look.
So in this article I will be sharing several locations where you go to explore.
You may like: Where to Find Fossils in Florida?
Where to Find Fossils in Arkansas?
Here is the list:
1. Lucketts Spring in Arkansas County has fossils preserved from a time when the area was warmer than it is now. This area is a great place to find fossils because it was once part of a swamp that was full of life.
2. Muddy Creek in Hot Spring County has a fossilized tree stump that was preserved from an ancient forest. This is a great fossil site because it was once located within the New Madrid fault line and erosion has exposed the remains of this ancient forest.
3. Marble Cave in White County has a section of limestone that has been eroded and fossilized. This is a great place to find fossils because the area was once a marine environment and it was located near salt, water, and heat sources.
4. Whitaker Springs State Park in Stone County is a great place to visit because this park is located in the Ozark Plateau which contains many fossils from the Mississippian period and other geological periods.
5. Cusseta Rock Quarry in Mississippi County contains a section of limestone that has been eroded and fossilized. This is a great site for fossils because the area was once a warm, coastal environment and contained marine life.
6. West Fork of the White River in Sharp County is known as the best place to find fossils from the Mississippian period because this area was once part of an ancient river system and contained multiple layers of strata that were ideal for preserving fossils.
7. Flat Creek Gorge in Van Buren County has a fossilized log that was preserved from an ancient forest. This is a great site because the area was once located within the New Madrid fault line and erosion has exposed the remains of this ancient forest.
8. Arkansas County contains both a fossil site and a state park known as the Arkansas Valley Fossil Site and Dinosaur Quarry State Park. The park contains multiple layers of strata that were ideal for preserving fossils and many dinosaur fossils have been found here. The Arkansas Valley Fossil Site has a fossilized log from an ancient forest that was preserved within the New Madrid fault line.
9. Heber Springs State Park in Stone County is one of the best places in Arkansas to find fossils because this area was once home to a warm, freshwater river with deposits where you can find ancient trees and fossilized logs.
10. The Ouachita Mountains in Polk County contain fossilized ore deposits that were preserved from when this area was a warm, freshwater sea with marine life. This is a great place to find fossils because the area was once located within the New Madrid fault line and erosion has exposed the remains of this ancient sea.
Where to Find Shark Teeth in Arkansas?
The best places to find shark teeth in Arkansas is in the Ouachita Mountains or any area that was once a marine environment.
They are most commonly found off of the Ouachita Mountains and Little Missouri River, but if you are lucky enough you can also find them along the White River.
In the Arkoma Basin of eastern Oklahoma, clay beds up to 50 meters thick were deposited during the Pliocene-Pleistocene as a lake expanded and contracted over time. Kayenta formation, which is a clay formation, is the only known deposit of fossil oysters in the United States.
Fossils of ancient microscopic algae have been found in this formation, indicating that the lake was once a thriving ecosystem.
During the Late Pleistocene and Holocene, cold climate periods caused glacial advances and retreats which resulted in massive changes to the Ozark Plateau and the region’s human settlement patterns. The fossil oysters indicate that the lake was an oceanic environment and may have been used for food for early human inhabitants.
Dinosaur Fossils in Arkansas
Arkansas has several regions that contain fossils from the Mississippian period and other geological periods.
Many dinosaurs have been found in Arkansas and can be found near White River, Crump Mountain, and Cusseta Rock Quarry. The best place to find fossils from the Mississippian period is found in the Ouachita Mountains, but you can also find these fossils along the White River and in northern Arkansas near Smith Spring.
In the Ouachitas, not only have paleontologists found dinosaur tracks and signs of an ancient sea or lake for these ancient animals to have lived but there are also many complete skeletons of dinosaurs and stegosaurus. The most well-known dinosaur species in the Ouachitas are Ankylosaurus, Allosaurus, and “Deinonychus”.
Fossils Collection Laws in Arkansas?
Arkansas has no laws protecting fossils, which means that any unclaimed fossils can legally be kept as property by the person who found them. However, if you are found in possession of a stolen fossil then you may be charged with trespassing and theft.
While fossils are legal in Arkansas, it is illegal to collect them unless you have permission from the landowner or a license with the Arkansas State Parks and Historic Sites. It is also illegal to sell fossils without permission from the landowner.
If you wish to collect fossils legally, you must keep them in a secure box or container that meets state regulations.
Is it illegal to sell dinosaur bones in Arkansas?
Selling bones from dinosaurs is strictly illegal in Arkansas and most other states. You risk up to one year in prison and a fine if found guilty.
Conclusion: Where to Find Fossils in Arkansas?
Arkansas has a rich history of prehistoric life. In almost every county, there is some type of paleontological site to visit.
While many of these sites are not exposed for the public to see, every year more and more people are coming out to these sites to find fossils and interpret the ancient past.
Arkansas’s best fossil sites are found in their state parks and national parks. Arkansas has more than ten state parks that contain fossil sites and over thirty national parks that also contain fossil sites.
There are several different types of fossils found in Arkansas, with the most common being the dinosaurs, but Arkansas also has fossilized oysters, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and molluscs.
In addition to these fossils in Arkansas, there is evidence that dinosaurs lived here and were eaten by early humans up until 1-to-2 million years ago.