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Kentucky Fossil News Briefs

330-million-year-old amphibian skeleton found in western Kentucky

Spring and summer 1995: Geologists from the Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois state geological surveys working on a project in western Kentucky found several large blocks of sandstone containing skeletal material. Further examination indicated that the fossil was an embolomere amphibian from late Chesterian (Mississippian) strata. The Kentucky Geological Survey is coordinating research on the specimen, which has been transferred temporarily to a vertebrate paleontologist who will be preparing the fossil for the next year and a half. After preparation and initial examination, a press conference will be held at the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky. The specimen will eventually be housed in the Kentucky Museum of Natural History.

313-million-year-old insect fossil found in eastern Kentucky

November 1993: A scientific paper was published on the first insect fossil found in Kentucky. The insect wing, belonging to a spilapterid (Palaeodictyoptera: extinct) insect, was found near Manchester, Ky.. The wing showed traces of original color patterns. Sheltoweeptera redbirdi, the new genus and species, will be part of the Kentucky Museum of Natural History collection. For further information, see Neu Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Paleontologie, 1993, v. 11, p. 641-647.

Oldest known North American reptile fossil found in south-central Kentucky

January 1994: The Journal of Paleontology published a paper on a fossil trackway made by a small reptile approximately 320 million years ago, making this the oldest-known reptile fossil in North America. The trackway was found on a sandstone block in McCreary County, Ky. by Mr. Roy Hines. The trackway, referred to as ichnotaxa (trace fossil taxa) Notalacerta missouriensis, showed a straight tail drag mark and hindfoot (pes) and forefoot (manus) impressions made when the animal walked across a small muddy deposit. The specimen is currently at the Geological Sciences Department at the University of Kentucky. Reprints of the Journal of Paleontology article are for sale at the Kentucky Geological Survey, 606-257-3896; ask for Reprint 41.

World-famous fossil coral site in Kentucky opens to public

January 1994: The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, part of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, has opened across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky. The historically famous outcrop of Devonian (375 to 380 million years ago) coral-bearing limestone occurs in the Ohio River within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and is protected as a National Conservation Area. Access is best on the Indiana side of the river. The Interpretive Center offers a museum, bathrooms, parking, picnic tables, and easy access to the outcrops; guides are available. Call 812-280-9970 for more information about the Interpretive Center. The illustrated booklet,"Fossil Beds of the Falls of the Ohio" (KGS Special Publication 19) is for sale at the Kentucky Geological Survey, 606-257-3896.

Scientists examine Pleistocene (Ice-Age) animal fossils from Big Bone Lick, Ky.

Winter 1995: Two scientists from the University of Kentucky examined mammal fossils originally from Big Bone Lick, Ky., but now held at the University of Nebraska. The fossils were collected on Commonwealth of Kentucky property in the 1960's. Original correspondence between Kentucky and Nebraska officials stated that part of the collection would be returned to Kentucky after studies had been completed. Kentucky is now seeking return of the specimens so that they can be placed in a museum in Kentucky.

Big Bone Lick was one of the first paleontological sites discovered in North America; specimens were collected there by Major Charles LeMoyne de Longueuil in 1739, and Thomas Jefferson authorized a dig there by Captain William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, in 1807. Specimens collected by them now reside in the Musee d'Histoire Naturelle de France, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and at Monticello, Jefferson's home.