Koch Spring in Hickory County, Missouri was one of the earliest excavations for Pleistocene (Ice Age) animal bones in the New World. Bones from this spring were known to naturalists in New England as early as 1806. The first recorded excavation "in" the spring was by Albert C. Koch (1804 - 1867) during the spring of 1840. Fossilized Mastodon bones from this and other excavations in Missouri (including the Kimmswick Site) were eventually assembled and sold to the British Museum.

Koch Spring was relocated and sampled by archaeologists as part of the rescue archaeology endeavors carried out before the Pomme de Terre River valley was flooded by the United States Corps of Engineers. A detailed summary of those discoveries can be found in Prehistoric Man and His Environments: A case study in the Ozark Highland, edited by W. Raymond Wood and R. Bruce McMillan, published 1976 by Academic Press.

Radiocarbon dates for samples from 2 meters (ca. 6 ft.) below the surface of Koch Spring yielded Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) cone scales. Radiocarbon dates from Koch Spring including one sample that is older than 38,000 B.P. (Before Present), 33,550 +/- 3210 B.P., 31,880 +/-1340 B.P., and 30,880 +/-1320 B.P.







Koch Spring as it appeared on 9 August 1975 during a fieldtrip in conjunction with the 23rd annual meeting of the Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene. This photograph (and the others at this website) were taken as an ektachrome slide and was digitized during 2003 by St. Louis Community College.







Koch's Mastodon in the British Museum of Natural History; photographed during 1992 by Michael Fuller.








Diagrammatic cross section showing probable stratigraphic relationship of Alluvial Terraces and Peat Deposits (Adapted by "Fossiliferous Spring Sites in Southwestern Missouri" by Jeffrey J. Saunders and published in the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Paleoecology and Archaeology of the Eastern Great Lakes Region (1988). T-0 is the modern floodplain (composed of Pippins Cemetery Formation). Terrace 1 is a low terrace composed of the Rodgers shelter Formation. An older terrace, Terrace-2, stands approximately 12 meters above the bed of the Pomme de Terre River and is composed of the Boney Spring Formation. The oldest terrace is the Trolinger Spring Formation.







A plaster jacketed Mammuthus jeffersonii (Jefferson's Mammoth) tusk from Jones Spring. Jones Spring was located approximately 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) northwest of Koch Spring.








Mammuthus jeffersonii (Jefferson's Mammoth) mandible in Jones Spring.







The center of Jones Spring consisted of a jet of white sand.







Mammut americanum (American Mastodon) jaw floating within the jet of white sand.








Soil samples taken for pollen analysis from Jones Spring. Pollen frequencies from 2.3 meters below the surface contained Cyperaceae (approximately 53%), Pinus (approximately 30%), Quercus (approximately 6%), Gramineae (approximately 5%), and Carya (approximately 2%).

Cyperaceae are grasslike, herbaceous plants; Pinus is pine, Quercus is oak, Gramineae is the grass family, and Carya is hickory.

Ice Age fossils occur within 3 peat layers (c-1, c-2, and e-2) within Jones Spring. A radiocarbon date from the uppermost layer (e-2) is 35,320 years Before Present. One radiocarbon date from the upper most portion of unit c-2 is greater than 40,000 years Before Present. A radiocarbon date on a Populus or Salix root from within c-2 dates 51,000 Before Present. A fragment of Quercus (Oak) from the base of unit c-1 dates greater than 60,000 years Before Present. A Uranium decay date for a mastodont tooth from the base of unit c-1 was dated to 160,000 years Before Present.




Faunal (animal) remains in the uppermost unit (e-2) include Mammut americanum (American Mastodon), Mammuthus jeffersonii (Jefferson's Mammoth), Equus complicatus (Complex-toothed horse), Bison latifrons or Bison antiquus (late Pleistocene Bison), and Symbos sp. or Bootherium sp. (musk ox).

Faunal remains from the middle unit (c-2) includes reptiles (Terrapene carolina putnami) and birds such as Anas carolinensis (Green-winged Teal) and Aythya collaris (Ring-Necked Duck). Mammals include Geomys sp. (Gopher), Microtus sp. (Vole), Procyon lotor (Raccoon), Mammut americanum, Mammuthus jeffersonii, Equus complicatus, Equus calobatus or Equus hemionus, Odocoileus virginianus (Eastern White Tailed Deer), Bison latifrons or Bison antiquus (late Pleistocene Bison), and Symbos sp. or Bootherium sp. (musk ox).

Faunal remains from the deepest unit (c-1) includes reptiles (Terrapene carolina putnami and Alligator mississipiensis). Mammals from the deepest peat layer include Glossotherium harlani (Harlan's ground sloth), Castoroides ohioensis (Giant Beaver), Smilodon sp. (Saber-toothed Cat), Mammut americanum (American Mastodon), Mammuthus jeffersonii (Jefferson's Mammoth), Equus complicatus (Complex-toothed horse), Equus calobatus or Equus hemionus, Tapirus veroensis (Tapir), Camelops sp. (camel), Odocoileus virginianus (Eastern White Tailed Deer), and Bison latifrons (middle Pleistocene Bison).