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Mississippi Earth Symbols

Mississippi State Mineral

Not known for its gemstones, Mississippi’s earth symbols were long limited to fossils. However, the Mississippi opal was designated the state mineral in 2023. Geologists discovered this valuable gemstone in the Catahoula formation, where it is associated with limestones interacting with streams.

Fossil ˆ

Mississippi State FossilLeft to right: Basilosaurus tooth, Zygorhiza, Basilosaurus. (Zygorhiza (Left): By Apokryltaros at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0link;p Note: I modified this picture. Basilosaurus: By Pavel.Riha.CB, CC BY-SA 3.0link; Note: I modified this picture.)

Mississippi has three official fossils. Two prehistoric whales were designated the official fossil proper, Basilosaurus cetoides and Zygorhiza kochii. Spectacular fossils of whales that lived during the Eocene have been found in both Mississippi and neighboring Alabama.

Another fossil, petrified wood, was designated the official state stone. One of the best places to see petrified wood is the Mississippi Petrified Forest, a privately operated park and museum in Flora, Mississippi ( The fossilized wood here is about 36 million years old.

Mississippi’s most important symbol may be its state soil, Natchez silt loam. Natchez soils form a band running across western Mississippi from north to south, along the Mississippi River.

Soil ˆ

Mississippi’s state soil is Natchez silt loam. Natchez soils formed in very deep loess in a woodland environment and a warm, humid climate.

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