The Wednesday of Earth Science Week is designated as National Fossil Day. National Fossil Day was first celebrated in 2010. This celebration is organized by the National Park Service to "promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values."
Happy National Fossil Day!
Like most states, Michigan has an official state fossil - the American Mastodon (Mammut americanum). Over three hundred mastodon fossil sites have been found in Michigan, but only south of a line running west from Saginaw Bay. No mastodon fossils have been found in Northern Michigan, nor any in the Upper Peninsula.
|Mural depicting American Mastodons (Mammut americanum) - Museum of Natural and Cultural History at Central Michigan University|
|Fossil American Mastodon Jaw -Museum of Cultural and Natural History at Central Michigan University|
Not only does Michigan have a state fossil, but our official state stone is also a fossil - the Petoskey Stone. Petoskey Stones are the fossilized remains of the extinct Hexagonaria coral. Hexagonaria was a common colonial coral that lived in the warm shallow ocean that covered Michigan during the Devonian period (more than 350 million years ago). Petoskey Stones can be found around the state, but are most common along the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
|An unpolished Hexagonaria - found in Shiawassee County, MI|
The odds of finding a mastodon fossil are not very high, but with a little luck and a little time searching almost everyone will find a Petoskey Stone.
|A Hexagonaria coral "Petoskey Stone" on a Lake Michigan beach|
So Happy National Fossil Day and happy fossil hunting!