Were Dinosaurs Active in Northwest Louisiana?
It's funny how the brain works sometimes. Last night, I was watching Jurassic Park and randomly my brain just started thinking about dinosaurs in Louisiana. Personally, I've never heard of any fossil discoveries or anything in the state. But, the United States is a hot bed for dinosaur fossils. Most have been found in areas like Utah, Montana, Arizona. You know, the rocky and desert areas of the country. But, paleontologists have been digging up dinosaur bones since the mid 1800s, there's bound to have been something discovered in Louisiana, right?
Well, it turns out, that there have been tons of prehistorical finds in the state. Just no dinosaurs. But, that doesn't mean that no dinosaur ever found its way to Shreveport. According to scientists, the lush swampy and humid weather is not exactly the best environment for fossils to be preserved in.
Basically, things erode instead of building up. So, instead of fossils being buried underneath rock, they just kind of rot away. In fact, according to what I could find online, there's not any fossil record in Louisiana before the Cretaceous period. For those that haven't watched Jurassic Park lately, that's between 145 & 66 million years ago. Or, in layman's terms, close to the end of the age of dinosaurs.
In fact, it's during this period that experts believe that dinosaurs did actually inhibit Louisiana. At this time, Louisiana was covered by a shallow sea. That sea was filled with all kinds of creatures including sharks and other marine invertebrates. This isn't just a theory, there have been some remains found in Bienville Parish. Several area containing Cretaceous era fossils have been found in Northwest Louisiana including areas near the Protho and Rayburn salt domes. But these fossils aren't dinosaurs. And according to scientists, we'll never know if proper dinosaurs inhabited our area as Cretaceous rock that may contain fossils from the era are buried inaccessible areas.
Which is kind of a bummer. But considering sharks and other wild life from the time have been discovered, it's not that big of a leap to assume that dinosaurs did in fact occupy the area at least for a small portion of time.
But, just because we didn't have proof dinosaurs lived here, doesn't mean that we don't have fossils of other pre-historic creatures. In the late 60s, a Mastodon from the Ice Age era was discovered in Angola. Basilosaurus, commonly referred to as "King Lizard", is basically a giant pre-historic whale from the Eocene period (which is post dinosaur. Roughly 41 to 34 million years ago). There's also been discoveries of pre-historic horses (Hipparion), giant pre-historic armadillos and saber-toothed cats.
So, while we may never discover a T-Rex or raptor in Shreveport, there's no telling what other kinds of fossils may exist in our area.