In 2004 a local geology student found the skull of Fedexia striegeli in Western Pennsylvania. The specimen was lying at the base of a road cut that exposes the Casselman Formation. The Casselman is the formation above the Ames Limestone. Locally where I dig, the estimated layer in the strata might not exist. It is much higher than the local hills that surround me. The geologic age is not exact, however. The fossilized skull was found at the base rather than pulled from the hillside. Estimates place it to be around 305 million years old.

Finding any sort of amphibian fossil in Pennsylvania would be a huge deal. This specimen, found by Adam Striegel, a University of Pittsburgh student, pushed back the discovery of amphibians on land by 20 million years.

Illustration of Fedexia striegeli by N. Tamura.
Illustration of Fedexia
striegeli
© N. Tamura

Location of Discovery

Upon discovering the fossil, Mr. Striegel originally thought he had found a fern fossil. The discovery happened on land owned by Fedex, which is near the Pittsburgh Internation Airport in Moon Township. Thus, the genus was named Fedexia for Fedex, and the species is striegeli for the discoverer.

Fedexia striegeli at Carnegie Museum
Fedexia striegeli (CM 76867) on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The teeth are likely what Mr. Striegel thought were fern leaves.

Trematopids in the Pennsylvanian

Before Fexedia was discovered, only three examples from the Trematopidae family have ever been found within the Pennsylvanian period of time. Previous finds included Anconastes vesperus (CM 41711) in 1986 in New Mexico, and Actiobates peabodyi in Kansas in 1973.

Pennsylvanian Trematopid Discoveries

2004PennsylvaniaFexedia striegeli
1986New MexicoAnconastes vesperus
1973KansasActiobates peabodyi

Perceived Age of Pennsylvanian Trematopid Discoveries

In the type species paper (Berman, Henrici, Brezinski, Kollar), there is a chart (Fig 3) showing geological age information of these three discoveries. Correlation of the species and climate is shown with sea level, precipitation and glacial frequency and extent. By using this chart, I made rough estimates of the perceived ages of these three species, +/- 3 million years a piece.

302 myaNew MexicoAnconastes vesperus
305 myaPennsylvaniaFexedia striegeli
306 myaKansasActiobates peabodyi

Other Vertebrate Fossils in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

While scarce, vertebrate fossils can be found in the Pittsburgh region. In the Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Volume 4 (1906-1908), E.C. Case describes vertebrate fossil remnants found in Pitcairn, PA. They appear to be within the Pittsburgh Red Beds, which sits below the Ames Limestone. The red clay they described was 37 feet thick and the fossils were found 4 feet above the base.

In the paper published in the Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Volume 78, No 4, the Pitcairn specimens were mentioned when showing local relation to the discovery of Fedexia.

Reptillian Remains found near Pittsburgh, PA
Reptillian Remains found near Pittsburgh, PA

More Information about Fedexia striegeli

More Information on Pennsylvanian Trematopids and Vertebrate Fossils