Elkhorn man finds possible 90-million-year-old fish fossil in Missouri River

An Elkhorn man found the fossil while fishing in a tournament.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:46 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Elkhorn man made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery in the Missouri River: a fossil of what appears to 90-million-year-old fish.

Fishing is more than a sport for Andy Moore.

“It’s the feeling you get when that fish bites your line,” Moore said. “It’s that primordial jolt you get in your spine, and it goes right to your brain.”

Moore got a jolt like no other from his catch at a tournament in mid-August. He was fishing just west of Yankton, S.D., located about 160 miles northwest of Omaha.

At first, Moore wasn’t doing very well in the tournament.

“I pitched my jig and it’s horrible. It’s like way left and I’m like oh man.”

Moore had snagged the back of a rock and couldn’t get it off his line. So, he paddled his kayak up to the rock.

“I get up to it, and I’m like, ‘Oh wow! That’s kind of cool.’ I thought it was a big catfish skeleton or a deer skeleton. Something told me to take a picture of this.”

Later, Moore posted the pictures online. Within minutes, texts and phone calls started flooding in.

A once-in-a-lifetime find in the Missouri River.

“It was like, ‘Uh dude. Did you know that’s a 90-million-year-old fossil that’s in that picture?’ I’m like, ‘What?’ ”

So Moore contacted a biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They went back out and found the rock, using the coordinates from pictures on Moore’s cell phone.

“The geologist guy saw it, and he’s like — he just jumped out of the boat in his boots goes up to it, and he goes, ‘Oh my god.’ ”

The biologist confirmed with 6 News that the fossil does appear to be that of a prehistoric predator fish that’s up to 90 million years old.

“I’m still kind of mind-blown about the whole thing.”

As for the tournament, Moore didn’t do very well. He said this time he doesn’t mind, “because I have the discovery of a lifetime.”

The fossil will be on display at the Lewis and Clark Visitor’s Center, on the Nebraska side.

Elkhorn fossil gallery