Native American Artifacts from 6,000 B.C. Discovered in Alligator's Stomach

While examining the stomach contents of a 750-pound alligator in Mississippi, Red Antler Processing owner Shane Smith came across two prehistoric, Native American artifacts.

An expert told the Clarion-Ledger that the discovery of the artifacts was not a sign that something sinister had happened. Instead, the alligator likely ate the artifacts hoping they'd aid its digestion.

Smith decided to process the 13-foot, 5-inch alligator after reading reports that a processor in South Carolina had found dog tags in the stomach contents of an alligator there, the Clarion Ledger reported.

Smith didn't know what he'd find; however, he certainly didn't expect to discover a prehistoric arrowhead or plummet.

"It was just disbelief," Smith told the Clarion Ledger. "There's just no way he had an arrowhead."

Smith posted photos of the artifacts to Red Antler Processing's Facebook page on September 2.

James Starnes, director of surface geology and surface mapping for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, studied a photo of the arrowhead, and determined that it was actually an atlatl dart point, reported Insider.

According to Fox News, the atlatl dart point was part of an early weapon that launched a spear. Starnes estimated that the artifact dates back to approximately 5,000 - 6,000 B.C.

The plummet, on the other hand, is likely from 1,700 B.C. But while modern plummets are used for fishing, Starnes told the Clarion Ledger that researchers don't know how prehistoric Native American settlements used the tool.

According to Britannica, early Native American cultures known as "Paleo-Indians" began experimenting with food production and foraging in 6,000 B.C. Their methods for hunting and foraging proved so effective that they were used by Native Americans until after European colonization.

With that in mind, it is perhaps not totally shocking that an alligator encountered these artifacts in the wild.

Smith's initial thought when he discovered the artifacts was that the gator had been shot or worse — it had consumed a Native American. But both he and wildlife expert Ricky Flynt believe the gator likely happened upon the objects and ate them to aid with digestion.

"My best hypothesis is wherever he scooped up those other rocks, he got that Indian point," Smith told the Clarion-Ledger.

"Alligators, like other animals such as birds and other reptiles, are known for ingesting grit and rocks to help with digestion," Flynt added. "We know alligators and crocodiles do that."

alligator
Stock image of an alligator. A startling discovery was made inside the stomach of an alligator, who had ingested ancient Native American artifacts. Rod Vamosi/iStock