Fossil Symbols

Fossils have become immensely popular symbols of the 50 U.S. states. Fossil asp represent some of Canada’s provinces and Australa’s states. However, is there such a thing as a national fossil?

I’m not yet sure myself. While I investigate, let’s take a brief tour of fossils of state.

National ˆ

U.S. State ˆ

Just five states are without an official fossil. Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have a good excuse; there are very few fossils in volcanic regions (Hawaii) or regions that were recently scoured by glaciers (New Hampshire and Rhode Island).

However, the other two holdouts—Iowa and Minnesota—are located in the Midwest, which is crawling with fossils of ancient marine invertebrates, along with fossils of Ice Age animals.

In fact, Indiana had no state fossil until 2022, when it adopted the American mastodon. Minnesotans chose a giant beaver (Castoroides ohioensis) in 2021. According to media reports, it was headed for adoption in 2022, but I haven’t found any confirmation of its designation.

The table below lists all fossiliferous items adopted as state symbols except limestone and marble, which are composed of the remains of many different kinds of marine animals. (They are listed in the State Minerals table.)

The color green represents plant fossils. Light blue represents marine animals, while dark blue represents freshwater species. (North Dakota’s state fossil is a hybrid—fossilized wood that was swept out to sea, where it was bored by marine invertebrates commonly called shipworms.)

In the middle column, the letters P, M, and C represent three vast periods of time—the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. Marine invertebrates were well established during the early Paleozoic, though many species are still living today. The Mesozoic is the Age of Dinosaurs. Though early mammals lived alongside the dinosaurs, all mammals adopted as state symbols lived during the later Cenozoic Era, which hasn’t ended.

One final note. Note all states have separate fossil pages on this site. Therefore, the state names in the column on the left are linked to earth symbols pages. If the fossil you’re looking for isn’t featured on that page, there should be a link to a separate fossil page.

List of State Fossils
State Species   Designation
Alabama prehistoric whale (Basilosaurus cetoides) C 1984
Alaska woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) C 1986
Arizona Arizona petrified wood (Araucarioxylon arizonicum) M 1988
Arkansas Arkansaurus fridayi M Dinosaur 2017
California saber toothed cat (Smilodon californicus) C 1973
Colorado Stegosaurus M 1982
Connecticut dinosaur track (Eubrontes giganteus) M 1991
Delaware American belemnite (Belemnitella americana) M 1996
District of Columbia Capitalsaurus (Creosaurus potens) M 1998
Florida agatized coral (Anthozoa) C Stone 1979
Georgia shark tooth (Elasmobranchii) 1976
Hawaii (none)
Idaho Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens) C 1988
Illinois Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium) P 1989
Indiana American mastodon (Mammut americanum) C 2022
Iowa (none)
Kansas Pteranodon M Flying Fossil 2014
  Tylosaurus M Marine Fossil 2014
Kentucky brachiopod (Brachiopoda) P 1986
Louisiana petrified palmwood (Arecaceae) C 1976
Maine Pertica quadrifaria P 1985
Maryland Ecphora gardnerae C Fossil Shell 1984
  Astrodon johnstoni M Dinosaur 1998
Massachusetts dinosaur tracks (Eubrontes giganteus) M 1980
Michigan mastodon (Mammut americanum) C 2002
  Petoskey stone (Hexagonaria percarinata) P Stone 1965
Minnesota (none)
Mississippi prehistoric whale (Basilosaurus cetoides) C 1981
  petrified wood C Stone 1976
Missouri crinoid (Delocrinus missouriensis) P 1989
  Hypsibema missouriensis M Dinosaur 2004
Montana duck billed dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum) M 1985
Nebraska mammoth (Mammuthus) C 1967
Nevada ichthyosaur (Shonisaurus) M 1977
New Hampshire (none)
New Jersey Hadrosaurus foulkii M Dinosaur 1991
New Mexico Coelophysis M 1981
New York sea scorpion (Eurypterus remipes) P 1984
North Carolina fossilized teeth of the shark Megalodon C 2013
North Dakota teredo petrified wood C 1967
Ohio trilobite (Isotelus) P Invertebrate Fossil 1985
Oklahoma Saurophaganax maximus M 2000
  Acrocanthosaurus atokensis M Dinosaur 2006
Oregon Metasequoia C 2005
Pennsylvania trilobite (Phacops rana) P 1988
Rhode Island (none)
South Carolina Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) C 2014
South Dakota Triceratops M 1988
Tennessee Pterotrigonia thoracica P 1998
Texas Paluxysaurus jonesi / Sauroposeidon proteles M Dinosaur 1997
  petrified palmwood C Stone 1969
Utah Allosaurus M 1988
Vermont beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) C 1993
  Mount Holly mammoth tooth and tusk (Mammuthus) C Terrestrial Fossil 2014
Virginia Chesapecten jeffersonius C 1993
Washington Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) C 1998
  petrified wood C Gem 1975
West Virginia giant ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) C 2008
  fossil coral (Lithostrotionella) P Gem 1990
Wisconsin trilobite (Calymene celebra) P 1985
Wyoming Knightia C 1987
  Triceratops M Dinosaur 1994

Other Fossils of State ˆ

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