"Stigmaria" were turned into tools by Kentucky's ancient Native Americans

Anita Durairaj

What is Stigmaria? According to the Kentucky Geological Survey, Stigmaria is a fossil tree root.

When plants and trees get fossilized, the process occurs in parts. Plant parts such as the leaves, bark, cones, and trunk are found as fossilized parts separate from each other. Stigmaria is the name given to the roots of extinct lycopod trees.

Stigmaria fossils tend to be elongated and tubular in shape. The outer surface of the fossil may be smooth or show characteristic circular pits or depressions where root hairs once attached.

Kentucky's Stigmaria has been found in geographic strata that are approximately 280 to 320 million years of age or more.

In Kentucky, Stigmaria fossils have been found attached to fossil tree trunks and are also found as isolated roots in ancient soils. Stigmaria may also be found without their attached trunks in coal-bearing rocks.

Archaeologists in Kentucky have found some unusual Stigmaria recently. An archaeologist from the Kentucky Archaeological Survey discovered a piece of Stigmaria that had been rounded and pecked at one of its ends.

The Stigmaria was discovered in the Daniel Boone National Forest Redbird district in Leslie County.

Archaeologists believe that this Stigmaria was a fossil artifact that was used by Kentucky's ancient Native residents as a tool of sorts. Although rare, this discovery is not new as fragments of Stigmaria converted into tools or artifacts have also been found in different sites in Eastern Kentucky.

For now, Kentucky archaeologists plan to continue excavating these sites in the hope of finding other unusual "treasures."

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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