At first glance, you might think that what you are seeing is the dried mud of a riverbed, but you would be very wrong. These are the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio along the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky and they are one of the largest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world.
You can walk these miles of limestone that is composed of the skeletal remains of ancient creatures. Everywhere you look you’ll find the fossilized remains of brachiopods, bryozoans, trilobites, crinoids, giant snails, corals and other ancient creatures trapped here millions of years ago when this was once the site of a shallow inland sea.
The corals you can see in these beds are different from those you’d find on today’s ocean floors. They are much older! Modern corals appeared durning the Triassic period, only about 2 million years ago, while the ones you will find in these fossil beds are around 387 million years old!
There were signs posted at the park warning that the temperature of the beds was about 20 degrees higher than land temperatures. As it was around 96 degrees on land the day I visited, and I was wearing sandals, I didn’t do as much exploring as I would have liked to.
By now you are probably wondering where the falls are. You can see in the back of the photo below that they have been damned up. I thought I was visiting a park with waterfalls so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered these ancient fossil beds instead.<img alt="
It’s a very odd feeling to stand on something so ancient while looking up at the modern city of Louisville, Kentucky.