Rare rock found locally

Kari Moore
Staff Writer

“Rock Hound” Tom McDaniel of Versailles, has finally got his hands on a rare rock. McDaniel’s co-worker, Jimmy Richardson, found the rock which is believed to be from the synapsid reptile family some 260-280 million years ago.

Richardson discovered the rock about 25 years ago while deer hunting in Metamora. This past summer, McDaniel traded Richardson an Indian axe for the rock. “We went back and forth for probably a year,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel said he asked Richardson for the rock and he replied, “What do you got?” McDaniel told him about the Indian axe and showed it to Richardson and the trade was eventually made.

The rock is the first of its kind to be found in Indiana. “Early identification suggest it may be from the synapsid reptile family,” said Indiana State Museum Curator of Geology, Peggy Fisherkeller, “but, more studies need to be done.” Similar rocks of its kind have been discovered in Ohio, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Europe and Russia.

Synapsids are believed to be a group of animals that included mammals and everything more closely related to mammals than to other living amniotes. They are easily separated from other amniotes by having an opening low in the skull behind each eye leaving a bony arch beneath each. The numbers and variety of synapsids survived into the Triassic period.

Originally defined at the turn of the 20th century as one of the four main subclasses of reptiles, synapsids were considered to be the reptilian lineage that led to mammals. Synapsids were known to be sprawling, bulky, cold-blooded creatures with small brains.

McDaniel gave the rock to Fisherkeller to present to the Indiana State Museum board. “I gave it to her and told her I wanted to donate it to the museum for future studies,” McDaniel told The Versailles Republican. Two men along with Fisherkeller actually came down to the site where the rock was found in the process of identifying it.

The rock is in the hands of the Indiana State Museum. “It’s really, really interesting,” said Fisherkeller. The rock is currently not on display at the museum but Fisherkeller hopes to have experts to take a look at the rock and identify it. McDaniel described the people he has worked with at the museum as “super nice” and encourages everyone to visit the museum where you can be a part of the history of Indiana.

The Indiana State Museum is located at 650 W. Washington Street in Indianapolis in the midst of White Water State Park.

McDaniel has lived in the Versailles area for 19 years and is a modern day toolmaker employed at Batesville Tool and Die. He is very interested in history and says it’s exciting to think about what was before our time.

Pictured above is a side view of the rare rock that was found in Metamora and is now in the hands of the Indiana State Museum officials in Indianapolis. The rock is also pictured below from another view.