Possible fossil cocci, both solitary and diplococcus types, have been discovered in coalified tissue (xylem) from coal balls and bituminous coal of Carboniferous age. Most of the presumed bacteria are microspheroids 1-2.5 ??m in diameter and were found in partly degraded humic tissue (xylem) from a medullosan seed fern preserved in a coal ball (Herrin No. 6 coal bed, Westphalian D), an indication that they may have been saprotrophs (decay causing). The same kind of bodies were also found in coalified xylem from the Pittsburgh coal bed (early Stephanian). Whatever the origin of the bacteria-like bodies, they provide direct evidence of secondary organic components in tissue that gives rise to vitrinite and fusinite, major macerals of bituminous and anthracitic coals. ?? 1991.