National Museum of Natural History
Zygorhiza was closely related to Basilosaurus (below), but had an unusually sleek, narrow body and hinged front flippers (a hint that this prehistoric whale
may have lumbered up onto land to give birth to its young). Along with Basilosaurus, Zygorhiza is the state fossil
of Mississippi; the skeleton at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is affectionately known as "Ziggy."
Fossils of the giant prehistoric whale
Basilosaurus have been found all over the deep south--not only in Mississippi, but in Alabama and Arkansas as well. As numerous as its remains are, it took a long time for paleontologists to come to grips with Basilosaurus--which was initially "diagnosed" as a marine reptile
! More about Basilosaurus
Named after the mystical philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, Teilhardina was a tiny, tree-dwelling mammal that inhabited the forests of eastern North America about 55 million years ago (only 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct). It's possible, though not proven, that the Mississippi-dwelling Teilhardina was North America's first primate! More about prehistoric primates