‘Stigmas’ Were Made into Tools by Ancient Native Americans in Kentucky | Anita Durairaj

Stigmaria, a fossil tree rootPhoto by Mark A. Wilson, College of Wooster; Public domain image

What is stigma? According to the Kentucky Geological Survey, stigma is a fossil tree root.

When plants and trees fossilize, the process occurs in several parts. Plant parts such as leaves, bark, cones, and trunk are found as fossilized parts separated from each other. stigma is the name given to the roots of extinct lycopods.

stigma fossils tend to be elongated and tubular in shape. The outer surface of the fossil may be smooth or have characteristic circular pits or depressions where root hairs once attached.

The Kentucky stigma has been found in geographic strata that are approximately 280–320 million years old or older.

In Kentucky, stigma fossils have been found attached to fossil tree trunks and are also found as isolated roots in ancient soils. stigma can also be found without their trunks attached in coal-bearing rocks.

Kentucky archaeologists have found unusual objects stigma recently. A Kentucky Archaeological Survey archaeologist discovered a piece of Stigmaria that had been rounded and pecked at one end.

The stigma was discovered in the Daniel Boone National Forest Redbird District in Leslie County.

Archaeologists believe this Stigmaria was a fossil artifact used by ancient Native residents of Kentucky as a kind of tool. Although rare, this discovery is not new since fragments of stigma converted into tools or artifacts have also been found at various sites in eastern Kentucky.

For now, Kentucky archaeologists plan to continue excavating these sites in hopes of finding more unusual “treasures.”

Nohemi M. Moore