Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 47 EXPLORATION The Fossils Under Our Feet Writer Eric Burnette travels 400 million years into the past. Photos by Mickie Winters Look up. To the top of your house. To the top of the trees. Maybe even to the top of your downtown office building. All of this was underwater. Warm, tropical, equatorial water, something like the Bahamas today. You are living, sitting, working on the bottom of a sea that is no longer here. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the Paleozoic seas once stretched across much of what is now the southern and midwest- ern United States. e seas were full of life — brachiopods, corals, sponges, plank- ton, trilobites, coelacanths, cephalopods, primitive sharks and fish, snails. My first inkling of this ancient past came about 10 years ago, when I was walking on the limestone wall along Park Boundary Road in Cherokee Park. I noticed bits of coral in the rock, sometimes quite well preserved. I made a mental note but didn't really try to understand what I was seeing. en, this past January, news broke that a dinosaur expert had discovered a Rosetta Stone of Cretaceous animal tracks — di- nosaurs and pterosaurs and even mammals — next to the parking lot (the parking lot!) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Virginia. He'd been visiting his wife for lunch. is followed the unveiling last year of a spiky ankylosaur found in Canada, so well preserved that it looked flash-frozen. I began to wonder: What do we have under our feet? A lot, as it turns out. Around here, fossils are everywhere. Creek beds, rock walls, natural pavers. Ornamental boulders outside the bank, outside the library, outside the Louisville Zoo. Even limestone gravel can contain fossils up to 425 million years old. "Most people have very little idea how old these are," These jumbled crinoids have been at the Falls of the Ohio State Park for almost 400 million years.

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