Only one reptile fossil has been found in Kentucky, in Pennsylvanian rocks of the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field.


This fossil was a trackway of a small reptile about 15 inches long. It is currently the oldest known reptile fossil in North America. The trackway consists of a series of footprints with a groove down the axis between footprint pairs. The groove is the track left by a dragging tail. The toe marks on the footprints come to a point, so it is thought these tracks were made by a four-legged animal with claws, such as a reptile. If the tracks were made by an amphibian, they would not have claw marks. Similar trackways have been found in surrounding states, and more are likely to be found in Kentucky. The trackway shows that reptiles certainly existed in the area that is now Kentucky in the past. Also, reptile fossils are well known in other coal fields. There is always the possiblility that more reptile fossils will be found in Kentucky's two coal fields.

The image is a fossil trackway from McCreary County Kentucky. The sharp points at the end of the tracks indicate that the animal that made them had claws. The line down the center of the trackway is likely a tail drag. Therefore, its a four-legged animal (tetrapod) with claws and a tail. That makes it a reptile. This remains one of the oldest fossils of reptiles in the world. Slightly older skeletons of reptiles are found in fossil tree trunks in Nova Scotia. It is not surprising that a reptile fossil would be found in the coalfields of Kentucky because reptile fossils are well known in other coal fields ( Illinois , Ohio , West Virginia ). There is always the possibility that more reptile fossils will be found in Kentucky 's two coal fields, as well as in Pleistocene deposits .

There are also many fossils that are commonly misidentified as fossil reptiles. Many plant fossils from the coal fields have scale-like patterns that are commonly misinterpreted as fossil snakes or reptile skin.


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Last Modified on 2020-06-01
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