Monday, November 16, 2009

Fossil Insect Wing?

A reader of this site sent some pictures of a possible imprint of a insect wing. The impression is somewhat worn but the shape does look like the wing of an insect.

This fossil was found in Powell County, Kentucky. The rock might some sort of red sandstone and was found where plant imprint fossils are found. According to the Kentucky Geological Survey website, "Only one insect wing has been found in Kentucky, and it was found in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field. These are extremely rare fossils. Veins within the fossil do not radiate outward from a mid-line or stem as in a leaf." ( So if this wing imprint it would be a quite rare find.

If you have any analysis of this please leave a comment or e-mail me at

This imprint is about 5.5 inches or about 14 cm long.

Imprint with a man's hand to get an idea of the size of the imprint.

The rock has some other impressions as well.


Shamalama said...

You ought to direct the finder of that fossil to the professor who contacted me about my wing fossil. I just found out that I'd have to donate it to his museum if it turns out to be a new species (because the type specimen must be stored where described). I'm conflicted now... I want to donate but I want to keep the fossil as well. Maybe I can just send him one half... hm...

Kentuckiana Mike said...

I did show it to him but it was too worn for identification.

A geologist at University of Kentucky looked at this fossil imprint and thinks it might be some sort of seed pod.

Wow, a holotype fossil would be your find. I would look into the history of the museum and see how they display their current fossils. Some things I would want to know: 1) have they lost fossils before?, 2) have they sold donated fossils before?, 3) do they have an endowment to fund a curator staff?

If you read some of these fossil books and papers you see that the holotypes have been lost.

That being said, after touring the Cincinnati Museum storage area, I would donate fossils to that institution. They have a special area for the holotype fossils.

Shamalama said...

Good advice! I'll probably wind up calling the guy since corresponding via e-mail can be difficult sometimes. I can't believe they would sell a holotype fossil unless it was to another institution. Then again, the Academy of Sciences here in Philly sold off their mineral collection, which had been with them for more than a century, because of lack of funds and institutions willing to accept it. It was filled with minerals and rocks that had been added to the collection by some of the earliest US geologists like A.E. Foote.

-M said...

Can you get a better picture of the more brightly colored area above the impression site? You may have a better chance of identification if you look at the entire specimen as a whole instead of just one part of it. That area sticking out looks like part of a head to me. It may be a larger creature curled up in fear of whatever it is fossilizing it.