Lepidodendron aculeatum

This is the outside bark of a species of ancestral trees known as Lepidodendron . It was found on a ridgetop in the pit of an active coal surface mine in Nicholas County, West Virginia in 1989.

Coal miners often mistakenly believe this to be a fossil snake of some kind. This bark pattern occurs mid-trunk on the Lepidodendron tree, and the diamond-shaped structures are known as "leaf cushions."

A 1/16-inch layer of coal once covered this specimen. A few dots of coal are still attached to indented structures on the leaf scars where long, grasslike leaves were attached to the outside of the tree when it was alive.


Rock Type: Sandy shale
Formation: Kanawha

Interval: Coalburg seam
Age: Middle Pennsylvanian Period, approx. 307 million years.

Location: Nicholas County, West Virginia; G&W Surface Mine, located about 10 miles north of Summersville, West Virginia, just east of Route 19. It is reclaimed now, but fossils can still befound in the rock drainage channels visible from the highway.