By Chloe Kramer
Sharks once swam in Parke County! 250,000,000 years ago that is. The area was a shore line for a sea. The sea then looked a little different from the Mediterranean Sea though. Rather, it was low coal swamps and shallow expanses of open water that were connected to open ocean by the Gulf of Mexico. The shoreline between the coal swamps and open sea shifted back and forth over many years. Sometimes residing in Eastern Illinois or Western Ohio, but most commonly somewhere in Indiana.
While many of the fossils of the creatures that lived during this time are buried deep within the soil, Parke County’s hills and gullies allow for some of the areas to be exposed. In other instances, however, mining brings them right to the surface.
The first discovery of prehistoric fossils came from Dr. Rainer Zangerl in 1955. While driving through the county, he discovered deposits of incredibly rich varieties of marine life fossils. Dr. Zangerl worked with the Chicago Natural History museum, and he quickly got a team working on contacting the land owner for permission to dig on his land.
For the full article, see this week’s edition of the Parke County Sentinel.