Verde Heritage 1926: DISCOVERY OF ANIMAL FOOTPRINTS

What is believed to be one of the most important discoveries of animal footprints "ever made in the southwest, was announced yesterday by Professor H. H. Nininger, of McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas, who has been in the district for the past couple of weeks and who delivered three interesting lectures at the local high school auditorium."

"The discovery consisted in the finding of a number of footprints of a giant cat of the Pleistocene age, in a white limestone bed in a canyon on Oak Creek not far from Cornville. Some 30 of these footprints, some of which measure more than six inches in diameter, were uncovered and not far from them and in the same formation, a track which has been identified as that of a mammoth was also found."

"NOT ALTOGETHER NEW: The attention of Professor Nininger was attracted to the locality by the fact that two of these fossil prints had been excavated and brought to Camp Verde some little time ago. It required some hard work to discover the location, but the search was richly rewarded. The limestone stratum is overlaid by more than 100 feet of sedimentary rocks of a later age and is deeply covered with debris. A space more than 200 feet long was cleared off and, as stated, some 30 footprints, each as fresh as if made yesterday, was uncovered. It is believed that further exploration will yield even more important results as the mastodon print is close to the edge of the overburden and some little excavation will be required to open up the other prints that are undoubtedly in the same place."

"'I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the Camp Verde specimen,' said the professor to the 'Verde Copper News' yesterday. 'It seemed almost incredible, but I determined to investigate and spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday in search for the canyon, which is almost inaccessible and is about 25 miles distant from Camp Verde. At last we found it and one of the really important discoveries of the decade was made. As yet I have been unable to make a positive identification of the footprints, as there were several species of huge cats in Pleistocene time, some of them very closely approximating our present mountain lions.'"

"'The prints are as plain and distinct as if they had been made within the year and there appears every reason to believe that yet others will be found as further exploration is made.'"

"A MAMMOTH: 'A little further along and in the same formation there is a magnificent print of a mammoth's foot which I am taking every care to preserve. It is close to the edge of the overburden and it will require some excavations to find other footprints of the same animal. I hope to get some excavations under way this week and it is probable that we shall write a new chapter in geology.'"

"PRESERVING PRINTS: Accompanied by Charlie Risinger, Professor Nininger went out to the scene of the discovery yesterday, prepared to excavate all the cat footprints and take plaster casts of that of the supposed mammoth. When several casts have been made, an attempt will be made to remove the big footprint for transmission to the National Museum at Washington."

"The geology indicates that the prints were made at least 100,000 years ago."

"ARIZONA FOSSILS ARE IN THE NATIONAL MUSEUM AT WASHINGTON."

"Washington, April 13. --- The new mastodons and a new glyptodont, the fossil bones of which were found in rocks of Pliocene age in Arizona are described in a report just issued by the Department of the Interior as Professional Paper 140-B of the Geological Survey."

"Several years ago numerous vertebrate fossils were discovered in San Pedro Valley near Benson, Arizona, by Kirk Bryan of the Geological Survey. Later J. W. Gidley, of the United States National Museum, co-operated with Bryan in making a large collection of these fossils, and a preliminary account of the fauna with descriptions of the rodents and rabbits by Gidley was published as Geological Survey Professional Paper 131-E, now out of print."

"Among the large animals are two elephant-like mastodons and a peculiar armored mammal, a glyptodont, related to the modern armadillo, which are described and figured in the report now published."

"The skeleton of one of the mastodons, (Stegomatodoni arizonae) has been mounted after the restoration of the missing parts and forms a striking exhibit in the National Museum at Washington. The total length of the mounted skeleton is about 14 feet. A very effective mount has been made of the glyptodont (Stenogomatodon arizonae) having parts of three individuals. Its huge carapace resembling a turtle shell is over 5 feet long."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Tuesday, April 13, 1926; page 1.)

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