New Kerr County History Book Available!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Ancient things you can find in Kerr County.

A relic from 66 - 145 million years ago,
found in Kerr County last week.
Time has been on my mind this week.
Last week I wrote about the Hatfield Pictograph Rock Shelter, an archeological site in the western part of Kerr County. It’s the only recorded site in our county which includes pictographs. While no one knows when the drawings were made on the walls of the rock shelter, there is evidence from artifacts found at the site it was in use from the Late to Transitional Archaic period, roughly between 1,500 to 5,000 years ago.
That’s a long time ago. The Great Pyramid of Giza, for comparison, is about 4,600 years old. Stonehenge, in England, is about 5,000 years old. It is possible people were using the Hatfield Rock Shelter around the same time, right here in Kerr County.
Porocystis globularis --
algal fruiting body fossils
This past Wednesday I traveled even further back in time, spending an hour or so looking for fossils. It’s a quiet hobby I enjoy, getting me outside to enjoy the wind and sun for a few minutes.
I found quite a few fossils, mostly gastropods and a clutch of grape-sized algal fruiting body fossils, all from the Cretaceous period, between 66 to 145 million years ago.
There is really no way for me to understand that span of time, even if I hold a nice spiral tylostoma fossil in my hand, the rock record of an animal that once lived in what is now Kerr County. That animal lived here when all of our hills and valleys were at the bottom of a shallow sea.
There are many places in the Texas Hill Country where it is actually harder to find a rock that is not a fossil than it is to find a fossil. I know of several spots where the fossils are so numerous they carpet the ground.
A tylostoma and a
porocystis globularis
Years ago William Matthews wrote "Texas Fossils: an amateur collector's handbook," and it's available online for free at In it, I learned our area of Texas, the Edwards Plateau, just north of the Balcones Fault and south of the Llano Uplift, is rich in fossils.
Many of the fossils here are of marine animals -- such as snails, urchins, bivalves, and even fish. But the area also has dinosaur fossils, including fossilized dinosaur footprints. (There are at least two sites in Kerr County with these ancient footprints.)
Kerr County lies in the Lower Cretaceous geologic area of Texas, with plenty of limestone and shale. Limestone is a sedimentary rock, made up of layers and layers of debris and muck, and often the remains of animals, which can become fossilized.
A gift from a kind reader
As children, we often collected fossils we called "Texas Hearts," which are an internal mold of a Texas Cretaceous pelecypod. We also found many "stone ears," which were the shells of gastropods and pelecypods, a type of clam or mussel.
When he was a child, my son was especially good at finding fossilized tylostoma, the corkscrew fossils that look like snail shells. He found them in all sizes. They're the internal mold of a gastropod.
Ms. Carolyn once found a fossilized plant, a small leaf imprint. We've found what looks like fossilized coral. There are many types of fossils in our area.
Just last week a kind reader brought by a fossil I’d never seen before, the fossilized shell of a large bivalve, measuring 8 inches from edge to edge.
I’ll have all of these fossils on display at our family’s print shop for the next few weeks.
Before winter takes a firm hold here, take a few moments to get outside and look around. You never know what you might find.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native with odd hobbies. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 7, 2019.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

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