During my lunch hour last Friday, I walked up to the Mining and Mineral Resources Building on campus to see a 300 million year old shark.
Actually it was the jawbone of an ancient fossil shark known to paleontologists as Edestus. This piece of history was pulled from the roof of a Kentucky coal mine in February by miner Jay Wright.
I was able to view it on display in the lobby of the Mining and Mineral Resources Building, along with learning a brief history of the Carboniferous geologic period. According to the dictionary, the name Carboniferous comes from the Latin word for coal, carbo. Many coal beds were laid down globally during this period, hence the name. Kentucky would have been under a shallow sea during the time period when this shark was alive.
The jawbone is impressive in person, and I noticed immediately that the teeth are serrated, like a steak knife. Amazing that such detail can still be seen so clearly after 300 million years!
The specimen includes original bone material encased in shale and several teeth, some of which are complete, measuring 2 inches wide at their base. Based on the size of this specimen, researchers believe this creature may have been about the size of a modern great white shark, or as much as 20 feet in length. They hope this particular find will contribute to the understanding of the prehistoric shark.
Perhaps not a typical mid-day lunch break, but you never can tell what you will find when you explore UK’s campus!