Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Yesterday I had a long button, fabric and trim appointment in Madeira, Ohio which is a suburb of Cincinnati. Afterwards I headed south into Kentucky so that I could visit a good button customer in Lexington, Kentucky later today. My first stop in Kentucky was Big Bone Lick State Park. This state park is famous for the many big bones (Pleistocene megafauna fossils) that have been found there. My focus was hiking all around the park until I had logged ten miles.

I  remember passing a highway sign for this park way, way back in the 1980's when I flew to Cincinnati (The Cincinnati airport is across the border in northern Kentucky)  Something about the name of this park seemed amusing, especially if one does not know the definition of 'lick' used in this context.

lick: a natural salt deposit (as a salt spring) that animals lick

The 'creature' behind me in the marsh bog diorama is a ground sloth.
The lake at Big Bone Lick State Park. A guy fishing for catfish was gracious to snap this photo for me.

3380 Beaver Rd.
Union, KY

The Discovery Trail is a 4.5 mile trail mosaic comprised of all the park’s hiking trails combined into continuous circuit. Collectively, the trails pass through grasslands, woodlands, a woody savanna, the salt-sulfur springs, and the bison viewing area.”
  • Hiking

Big Bone Creek Trail
1 mile, easy difficulty.

Bison Trace Trail
.5 mile, easy difficulty.

Cedar Run Trail
.5 mile, easy difficulty.

Corralberry Trail
2 miles, moderate difficulty.

Gobblers Trace Trail
.5 mile, moderate difficulty.

I hiked the complete trail system, I also hiked along the paved roadways, in some places I re-traced my steps - I did see the entire park, including the bison in their enclosed area. I kept going until I had logged ten miles. Recently ten miles has been my minimum daily requirement. I will try to keep to this ten mile goal while there remains enough sunlight in the day.


Big Bone Lick State Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Big Bone Lick State Park is located at Big Bone in Boone County, Kentucky. It is located on Beaver Road and between the communities of Beaverlick and Rabbit Hash. The name of the park comes from the Pleistocene megafauna fossils found there. Mammoths are believed to have been drawn to this location by a salt lick deposited around sulphur springs. Ancestors of the slothbison, and horse also grazed the vegetation and salty earth around the springs that the animals relied on for their diet. The area near the springs was very soft and marshy causing many animals to become stuck with no way to escape. It bills itself as "the birthplace of American paleontology," a term which dates from the 1807 expedition by William Clark undertaken at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson. In Nicholas Cresswell's journal, dated 1774 to 1777, he records a visit in 1775 to what was then called "Elephant Bone Lick." In this account, Cresswell describes finding several bones of "prodigious size," as well as tusk fragments, and teeth — one weighing approximately 10 pounds. While he assumed the bones were from ancient elephants, the local native traditions claimed the bones to be those of white buffaloes that had been poisoned by the salty water.
In 2002, the National Park Service designated Big Bone Lick State Park as an official Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Site. The park was also listed in 1972 on the National Register of Historic Places and was further listed as a National Natural Landmark in February 2009.

Activities and amenities

The visitors center (opened 2004) features indoor and outdoor exhibits of fossils,American art, and a 1,000 pound mastodon skull as well as a gift shop.
The park features several nature trails, including a Discovery Trail that includes a boardwalk around a marsh bog diorama with recreations of a woolly mammoth, a mastodon, a ground slothbison, and scavengers feeding on carcasses and skeletal remains. The Discovery Trail winds through several habitats, includinggrasslandwetland and savanna, and is accessible to the physically challenged.
A small bison herd is also maintained on-site.

* * * * * * * *

Sloths may be slothful, nevertheless, I would not have wanted to run into one of these had I been hiking in this park 10,000 years ago.

  1. lazy.
    "fatigue made him slothful"
    "fatigue made him slothful"

Giant Ground Sloths
Giant Ground Sloth

Ground Sloths were group of giant sloths related to today's two and three toed sloths. However, they were much larger, with some reaching the size of elephants. They also lived on the ground and not in trees. Ground sloths evolved in South America and spread throughout North America during the Ice Ages. They were herbivores that had very large claws that could dig up roots and dig burrows. They had very blunt teeth for chewing vegetation. All ground sloths became extinct at the end of the Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. 

Two identifiable Ground Sloths found at Big Bone Lick: 

Jefferson's Ground Sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii):
Jefferson's Ground Sloth is the larger of the two ground sloths found here. It reached a size of around 9 feet. Jefferson's Ground Sloth specialized in eating branches from trees. It could stand on its hind legs and tear off branches with its huge claws. 

Harlan's Ground Sloth (Paramylodon harlani):
Herlan's Ground Sloth is the smaller ground sloth found here. It reached a size of around 6 feet. Harlan's Ground Sloth was probably a grazer and fed mainly on grasses.

Harlan's Ground Sloth 
This is an image of Harlan's Ground Sloth on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. 

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