Did I find a dinosaur fossil?
Dinosaurs are very popular prehistoric creatures and many people find fossils in Kentucky that they think are dinosaur fossils. Unfortunately, if they were found in Kentucky, they are probably not dinosaurs.
No dinosaurs have ever been found in Kentucky. Dinosaurs are an extinct class of reptiles that lived during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Triassic and Jurassic deposits are missing from Kentucky. Cretaceous (the last period in the Age of Dinosaurs) sediments that have the potential of containing dinosaur fossils occur in only a part of the Jackson Purchase Region in extreme western Kentucky. Rocks across the rest of the state are older than the dinosaurs, so do not contain their fossils.
Many amateur collectors claim to have found dinosaur bones, claws, teeth, eggs, etc. These inevitably end up being some other fossil or a pseudofossil. Pseudofossils are rocks that have shapes similar to fossils, but are not really fossils. Fossils thought to be dinosaur teeth generally are horn corals or some other type of horn-shaped invertebrate fossil, although sometimes they are shark teeth. Fossil shark teeth are found in Kentucky.Many presumed dinosaur bones are often cephalopod (a shelled squid) shells, plant (root and stem) fossils, or mineral nodules, such as siderite with elongate shapes. Large mastodon and mammoth bones have been found in Kentucky, but these are not dinosaurs. Dinosaur eggs that have been reported are generally mineral nodules, either limestone or siderite. No fossil eggs (of any type) have been found in Kentucky. Dinosaur skin imprints that have been brought to the geological survey are actually bark impressions of fossil trees called scale trees (so-called because their bark looks like scales). These are all easy mistakes to make if you aren’t a trained paleontologist. Hoaxes also turn up on occasion. Be wary of trading or buying material claimed to be of dinosaur origin if it was found in Kentucky. For more information see:
- Did I find a fossil bone?
- Did I find a fossil tooth or tooth, claw, or horn?
- Did I find fossil rib, leg, or arm bones?
- Did I find a fossil snake or dinosaur skin impression?
- Did I find a fossil egg or turtle shell?