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  MS Red Hot Truck Stop

may 2019
Last Modified:
may 2019

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Location description

Behind the former Red Hot Truck Stop in Meridian, Mississippi, is a wellknown fossil locality, with an unusually rich biota of late Paleocene and early Eocene mammals, fish, snakes, mollusks, and plants, including fruits and leaves.

The succession at the Red Hot Truck Stop site encompasses the upper part of the late Paleocene Tuscahoma Formation and the early Eocene Bashi Formation. These formations represent a complex setting of near-shore and possibly inshore sediments.

Only the upper three meters of the Tuscahoma Formation are exposed at this site, and a hiatus separates it from the overlying Bashi Formation. The Bashi Formation is 4.2 m thick and is divisible into a basal lowstand unit and upper marine unit. Sediments of the Tuscahoma Formation at the Red Hot Truck Stop locality are green to gray, glauconitic, micaceous, and carbonaceous quartz sands, silts, and clays. Four glauconitic sand lenses in the Tuscahoma Formation are laterally continuous and vary between 0.1 and 0.5 m in thickness. These sand units are designated in ascending order as T1-T4. Lag materials are found at or near the bases of some sand lenses (T1 and T4) and consist largely of the teeth of sharks, rays, and bony fish. Intermixed with the lag are rafted materials including leaf and stem fragments of marsh and terrestrial plants and occasional fruit pods. 

The uppermost glauconitic sand lens of the Tuscahoma Formation, the T4 sand, is a friable, unconsolidated sand with cross-bedding and multiple, crosscutting scours postulated to be the product of estuarine channels. A vertebrate lag deposit is concentrated in erosional lows at the base of the T4 sand. The lag deposit rests above a scoured clay surface and exhibits the richest vertebrate fauna of the stratigraphic section at the Red Hot Truck Stop locality. IThis fauna includes ray teeth, shark teeth, the remains of bony fish, snake vertebrae, crocodile teeth, turtle shell plates, and land mammal bones and teeth (usually very small). Terrestrial fruit pods from the T4 sand indicate a mangrove or coastal wetland habitat. The T4 sand is truncated at the top by the Tuscahoma-Bashi hiatus and has a pronounced, undulatory, erosional surface at its base with a relief of about 0.3 m. 

Disconformably overlying the T4 sand, is the 3 m thick Bashi lowstand unit. These deposits consist of interbedded shales and slightly micaceous, fine- to medium-grained sands. The basal sand is cross-bedded and locally cuts out the underlying T4 sand. It has a lag deposit of clay clasts, abraded lignitized wood and seed pods, and broken and corroded shark and ray teeth. Above it are thinly bedded shales with whole and masticated, carbonized leaves of forest and marsh vegetation. An erosional surface separates the Bashi lowstand and marine units. This surface is abrupt, burrowed, undulatory, and truncates underlying lowstand beds. Above it is a transgressive marine sand with an abundance of marine mollusks, foraminifers, and shark and ray teeth. This unit contains the typical Bashi lithology and is characterized by boulder-sized concretions. At the Red Hot Truck Stop locality, the Bashi marine unit is composed of a micaceous, fine to medium-grained quartz sand with medium-grained glauconite. The unit is 1.2 m thick with the greatest abundance of fossils occurring as a lag deposit intermixed with glauconitic sand in the lower 0.3 m. Here large, thick shells of marine gastropods and bivalves are mixed with shark and ray teeth and less abundant  estuarine (?) taxa such as crocodile teeth and snake vertebrae.

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The Red Hot Truck Stop was torn down in 1999 for a super Walmart. It was located at 1305 South Frontage Rd, between Exit 153 and Exit 154 on I20-I59. The fossils are located behind the Truck Stop. The site is recognizable by the Red Hot Truck Stop sigh, that still stand by the side of the road.

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Paleocene and Eocene finds: plant fossils, shark and ray teeth, and shells.

There are 4 photographs of fossils from this location in our Fossil ID System.
Go to the MS Red Hot Truck Stop Species List to identify your own finds!

Literature recommended by members

  • Call et al., 1993: Wetherellia fruits and associated fossil plants remains from the Paleocene/Eocene Tuscahoma-Hatchetigbee interval, Meridian, Mississipii
    Mississippi Geology, v. 14, no. 1, p. 10-18
    Added by FossilDude
  • Danehy et al., 2007: Early Eocene macroflora from the Red Hot Truck Stop locality (Meridian, Mississippi, USA)
    Palaeontologia Electronica Vol. 10, Issue 3; 17A:31p;\r\nhttp://palaeo-electronica.org/paleo/2007_3/132/index.html
    Added by FossilDude
  • Schmitz et al., 1997: Testing 875r/868r as a paleosalinity indicator on mixed marine, brackish-water and terrestrial vertebrate skeletal apatite in late Paleocene-early Eocene near-coastal sediments, Mississippi
    Chemical Geology 140 (1997) 275-287
    Added by FossilDude

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Thanks to Philip A Schmitz

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