Hayley Lynch

By

Ancient Shark Fossil Found in Western Kentucky Mine

Published: Apr 5, 2011

A close-up of fossil.
A close-up of the fossil shark found in Webster County Coal’s Dotiki Mine shows the details of the teeth which have been well-preserved.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 5, 2011) — An alert miner working 700 feet underground in a western Kentucky coal mine noticed something jutting from the roof of Webster County Coal’s Dotiki Mine during his shift early on the afternoon of Feb. 24. The miner, 25-year-old Jay Wright, was bolting the roof at the time.

 

“I noticed some flaky rocks in the roof, and a small piece of rock fell,” he remembered. “When I used a pry bar to remove some more of the rock, I caught sight of something else. Part of it was already loose. All I had to do was grab it and pull it out.”

 

What he pulled out of the roof was the jawbone of an ancient fossil shark known to paleontologists as Edestus. In this case, “ancient” means more than 300 million years old.

 

At the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), Associate Director Jerry Weisenfluh, whose expertise includes coal mining, heard from acquaintances in the industry about the find. He decided to go to Webster County to check on what he had heard.

 

“Friends in the coal industry told me this was a pretty large, intact jawbone of a fossil shark and that it included several complete teeth. So I thought it could be worth the trip,” Weisenfluh said. “When Jay and the mine’s chief engineer, Eric Blanford, showed me the specimen, which is greater than 18 inches long, I think my own jaw must have dropped to the floor!”

A photo of Jay Wright.
Webster County Coal miner Jay Wright talks about the jawbone of a 300-million-year-old shark which he found in the company’s Dotiki mine in February.

 

Weisenfluh spent some time in the mine office talking to Wright about the find. Wright described how he had found the fossil about 8 inches above the coal seam and four miles into the Dotiki mine shaft.  He began checking the Internet to find out more about the fossil, eventually coming across its name. Wright has found several other fossils while operating a continuous miner or bolting the roof of the mine. Chief engineer Blanford says the mine chose to let Wright keep this one, too.

 

Wright has agreed to let Weisenfluh bring the jawbone back to KGS at the University of Kentucky to be examined more closely by researchers at KGS and UK’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

 

“Plenty of examples of Edestus have been found in western Kentucky,” remarked Frank Ettensohn, a professor in the department. “This is certainly the largest specimen that I’ve seen.”

 

Ettensohn, who has a paleontology background, noted that shark skeletons are mostly cartilage, which decays relatively quickly. And with so little of the skeletons of ancient sharks to study, there is plenty of debate among paleontologists about how the ancient shark appeared. But the shark’s jaw is composed of bone, which can last much longer. The Webster County specimen includes original bone material encased in shale and several serrated triangular teeth, some of which are complete, measuring 2 inches wide at their base. Based on the size of this specimen, Ettensohn believes this creature may have been about the size of a modern great white shark, or as much as 20 feet in length.

 

A photo of scientists with fossil.
Professor Frank Ettensohn, of the UK Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, along with Steve Greb and Jerry Weisenfluh of the Kentucky Geological Survey, examine the 300-million-year-old jawbone of the shark Edestus found in the western Kentucky coal mine.

Ettensohn and Steve Greb of KGS plan to collaborate on investigating the find to learn as much about its makeup as possible. “In Kentucky and surrounding areas, Edestus jaw specimens have been found in marine shales above the Springfield and Herrin coal beds, which would be upper Middle Pennsylvanian in age, or about 307 million years old,” said Greb. “The region was, of course, under a shallow sea at the time these sharks were around.” 

 

Greb and Ettensohn believe this distinctive specimen, with some features not seen on earlier finds, may contribute to the understanding of this prehistoric shark.

 

Meanwhile, coal miner Jay Wright, who lives with his wife and three small children in nearby Dixon, Ky., plans to keep watch for more fossils in the mine. 

edestus_photo_2_small.jpgedestus_photo_1_small.jpgedestus_photo_3_small.jpg
April
 
 
 
 
 
1
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Last day to withdraw from the University or reduce course load. Students can withdraw or reduce course load after this date only for “urgent non-academic reasons.”
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Fri
2
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
3
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Book of Mormon Trip
Sun
4
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Edible Garden Workday
Stop and See The Sexperts
Graduate Student Congress Meeting (April)
Mon
5
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Tye Dye Tuesday
Use of Urban Forests to Improve Water Quality
Women of the World: Abby Wambach
Tue
6
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Stop and See The Sexperts
Free HIV Screenings
Ag Awareness Day: Horticulture Club Sale
Wed
7
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Last day for candidates for a May 2016 degree to schedule a final examination in the Graduate School
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Horticulture Club Cabin Fever Sale
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Letting Go of the Reins
Symposium of Food Systems Studies
Thu
8
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Deadline for applying for admission to the Graduate School for the 2016 Four-Week Summer Session
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Horticulture Club Cabin Fever Sale
Holi
Fri
9
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Volunteering 101
House Party
Sat
10
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
11
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Innovation Seminar: Sustainable Transportation
Mon
12
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Kick Butts Day
Periscope with a Bike Mechanic (morning)
Periscope with a Bike Mechanic (afternoon)
Tye Dye And Papa Johns with Fusion
Tue
13
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
4th Annual Bike to Campus Day & On-the-Spot Safety Checks
Stop and See The Sexperts
Fusion Blitz Week Service Day
Wed
14
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Fusion Game Night
Tour de Downtown Art
Thu
15
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
High Elevation Archaeological Research in the Northern Wind River Range, Wyoming
Fri
16
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Donut Tour on Two Wheels
PharmD Open House
PharmD Open House
UK Spring Family Reunion
Sat
17
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sprint for Scholarships 5K
Sun
18
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Stop and See The Sexperts
Mon
19
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Creason Lecture
Tue
20
One + One
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Wed
21
One + One
Last day for candidates for a May 2016 degree to sit for a final examination
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Wildcat Wrap-Up
Go 'Inside the Hit Factory' With Author, New Yorker Writer John Seabrook
Soup & Substance / Trending Topics
UK RSA Block Party
Thu
22
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Fri
23
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
UK Dance Ensemble Spring Concert
Sat
24
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
UK Dance Ensemble Spring Concert
Sun
25
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Mon
26
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Four-Week Intersession registration and add/drop continue for students enrolled in the 2016 Spring Semester
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Building a Rain Garden
Tue
27
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars
Wed
28
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Paws for Stress Relief
Some Intersections of Art and Science - A Public Lecture by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek
Thu
29
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Last Day of Classes
Fri
30
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Oral Cancer Awareness 5K
ARBOR DAY at The Arboretum
Sat

Sat, 04/30/2016

Repeats every day on March, April, May every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun May 22 2016 .
Sun, 05/01/2016

Mon, 05/02/2016 - Fri, 05/06/2016

Mon, 05/02/2016

Reset Page