CARROLL COUNTY,IA (CBS/KCCI) -- Fossil hunters are finding some amazing things this year thanks to the dry conditions.
Past flooding has helped dislodge the remains of animals buried for years. They're now exposed because of the low water levels.
The shallow banks of the Raccoon River are like a treasure chest. Leon Neville says, "This year I find something pretty much every time I go out."
Neville is a fossil hunter who combs these sandy stretches searching for a piece of history. He says, "You'll look down in places like this to see if there's small bones."
And those small bones often lead to much larger discoveries. Neville says, "If I find a little bitty vertebrae bone to the tail I know that the skulls going to be that way."
This collection of bison skulls, jaw bones and vertebrae is just a small fraction of what Neville has uncovered in 35 years; pieces that fit together like a puzzle and tell a story. Neville says, "And you can pretty much see the movement within the creature while he was alive."
But nothing in his collection quite compares to the discovery he made in September. Neville says, "In 35 years this is the only one of these I have found."
Exactly what it is remains a mystery. We sent pictures to the state archaeologist office in Iowa City but it doesn't resemble any of the skulls in their collections. There are certain characteristics Neville has determined from the skull. He says, "That suggests a strong jaw, strong jawed animals were general meat eaters."
Neville says the fact that it's fossilized suggests it's thousands of years old. And some of the distinct features leads him to believe it's from an animal that's extinct.
Until the mystery is solved, Neville calls it Oto in reference to the small town where he found it along the Little Sioux River in western Iowa. It may turn out to be nothing extraordinary, but it's all part of the thrill of the hunt that keeps Neville searching. He says, "Even if you know what it is I mean I know this is a bison horn I know it's probably 5,000-6,000 years old but just the fact that it's that old and it's part of history and I can hold that, I love that."