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N. Ky. discovery excites paleontologist

UNION — Archaeologists have dug up and will display evidence of an Native American bison hunt that happened hundreds of years ago in Northern Kentucky.

Evidence at the site shows hunters killed and butchered the animals with stone tools, leaving the bones and tools behind.

The bones were discovered in Big Bone Creek several years ago but left there.

Staff from the Cincinnati Museum Center and volunteers spent a week in August digging up the artifacts. The archaeologists are analyzing the bones, which eventually will be displayed at the Cincinnati Museum Center and will be featured next year at the North American Paleontological Convention in Cincinnati.

Glenn Storrs, head curator for vertebrate paleontology at the center, got permission from the state to dig while the creek's water was down. Though it was already low, part of the river had to be dammed and water was pumped out.

"This is one of the very few documented bison hunt-and-kill sites in the Ohio Valley, so it's very exciting," Storrs told The Kentucky Enquirer.

And the job turned out to be more than he expected.

"It became a very exciting discovery, really," he said. "What started out as just a few bones became 500 to 600 bones and bone fragments of four to five bison."

The tools and bones from the site are 200 to 600 years old and date to the Fort Ancient culture.

Storrs and his team think the hunters drove the bison to the creek or cornered them there, then killed them, he said.

The artifacts indicate the hunters used the tools to break the bison skulls on flat stones in the creek bed to get to the brains, which were used in tanning, and the tongue, a delicacy.

Bison bones have been found at Big Bone before, but most had been washed down from the original kill sites.