This ancient reptile trackway, about 315 million years old, is the oldest known reptile fossil in North America. It was found in south-central Kentucky. A tail-drag can be seen between the small footprints. This fossil is a natural sandstone cast of the footprint, so the footprints and taildrag stand out from the rock. See third story below.

Kentucky Natural Science News Briefs

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 Age) 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 1.5 years. Upon completion of preparation and initial examination, a press conference will be held at the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky. The specimen may eventually be housed in the Kentucky Museum of Natural History.
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, Kentucky. 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.
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, Kentucky by Mr. Roy Hines. The trackway, referred to 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 shown at the Geosciences Department at the University of Kentucky, but will probably be housed at the Kentucky Museum of Natural History, when built. Reprints of the Journal of Paleontology article are available at Kentucky Geological Survey, 606-257-5500; ask for Reprint 41.
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, Kentucky. The historically famous Falls-of-the-Ohio is an outcrop of Devonian-age (375-380 million years ago) coral-bearing limestone that occurs in the Ohio River; the outcrop actually is within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and is protected as a National Conservation Area. However, 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 Devonian 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" (Special Publication 19) is available through the Kentucky Geological Survey, 606-257-5500.
Winter, 1995: The Kentucky Geological Survey acquired from the Lexington Quarry Co. limestone mine in Jessamine County, Kentucky a more than 2,000-lb boulder of giant gypsum crystals. Also found on the boulder are crystals of barite, fluorite, and sphalerite. The specimen was transported to the Kentucky Geological Survey and is now on exhibit in the lobby of the Mining and Mineral Resources Building on the corner of Rose and Clifton Streets, University of Kentucky, in Lexington.
Winter, 1995: Two scientists from the University of Kentucky examined mammal fossils collected at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, but now held at the University of Nebraska. The fossils were collected on Commonwealth of Kentucky property by scientists from the University of Nebraska 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 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.