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Indiana, US



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State Fossil:

There is no official state fossil for this state. Encourage your state legislature to adopt one today!

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Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: The Precambrian in Indiana is represented primarily by igneous rocks, thus there are no Precambrian fossils known from the state. These igneous rocks are not exposed at the surface anywhere in the state and are known only from drill cores.

The Paleozoic: The Paleozoic is well represented in Indiana by both sedimentary rocks and fossils. Earliest Paleozoic (Cambrian) rocks are present only in the subsurface, but fossil trilobites indicate that a shallow sea covered the state at this time. Indiana lay near the equator for much of the Paleozoic, and the warm, shallow, limy sea that existed from the Ordovician through the Devonian was home to abundant marine life. Conditions changed later in the Paleozoic as fine black and gray muds eroding off the distant Acadian mountains washed into the shallow sea. By the Carboniferous, rivers delivered large amounts of sand to the sea and onto deltas. Crinoids, bryozoans, brachiopods, gastropods, bivalves, and trace fossils are common in the Late Paleozoic marine rocks of Indiana. Plant material accumulated on the deltas and became the source of Indiana’s abundant coal deposits.

The Mesozoic:There are no Mesozoic rocks exposed or present in the subsurface in Indiana. This was primarily a time when the state stood above sea level and sediments would have been deposited only in limited areas, such as in streams or lake beds. Any rocks that might have formed from these sediments were later removed by erosion.

The Cenozoic: Early Cenozoic (Tertiary) rocks are present only in scattered locations and are buried under Quaternary glacial deposits. Some information about life in the state at this time has been provided by the fossils of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants that were recovered from a sinkhole. The Late Cenozoic (Quaternary) was a time of advancing and retreating glaciers, which scoured the landscape of northern Indiana nearly flat. During this glacial period, mammals such as mastodons, mammoths, giant short-faced bears, and the stag moose roamed the state.

Links to more on Indiana paleontology

Collecting and Legalities | Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections | Resources

Collecting and Legalities

Where to Collect Fossils (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Falls of the Ohio State Park Collecting Information: A brief guide to legal fossil collection sites in Kentucky and Indiana.

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Parks (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Falls of the Ohio State Park: The 386-million-year-old fossil beds in the park are among the largest naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world. 

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Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Indiana State Museum and Historical Sites: This museum covers a range of topics and has many permanent fossil exhibits.

Dinosphere: Reflecting life over 65 million years ago, Dinosphere is a museum exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis featuring a number of Cretaceous dinosaurs. The related web site includes educational games and interactive Web activities. The website also includes a virtual tour, visitor's information, and background on the specimens featured in the exhibit. 

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Colleges and Universities (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Indiana University: The Department of Geological Science offers prospective students exceptional opportunities for research, training, and funding at both graduate and undergraduate levels in research areas including geobiology.

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Government Agencies (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Indiana Geological Survey: An applied research institute of Indiana University providing information about the state’s geology.

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Education and Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits (showing 3 of 5 listings)

Crawfordsville Crinoid Fossils: An online gallery of fossil crinoids found in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana.

Pipe Creek Sinkhole: Information about a locality in Grant County, Indiana—an ancient sinkhole containing Pliocene and Pleistocene fossils.

The Fossils of Falls of the Ohio State Park: Brochures and other information describing the park's fossils and geology.

More Virtual Exhibits

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Research and Collections

Researchers (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Dr. Thomas W. Kammer: Specialty: Evolutionary paleoecology of Paleozoic crinoids, plus lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and sequence stratigraphy of marine Mississippian rocks in the east-central United States. Field areas include West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.

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Image Collections (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Falls of the Ohio Fossil Photos on Facebook: A collection of photographs of fossils taken at the State Park.

Falls of the Ohio Fossil Photos: Indiana Memory Project: This archive contains several photos of fossils from the Falls of the Ohio. Do an advanced search for "fossil" to find the images.

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Field Guides (showing 3 of 3 listings)

Cincinnati Fossils: This site lists all fossil taxa described or reported from the type Cincinnatian strata (Upper Ordovician) of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, including mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, brachiopods, and many other groups.

Pseudofossils: This illustrated guide to pseudofossils on the Falls of the Ohio State Park website helps you to tell the difference between a real fossil and a pseudofossil, a rock that only looks like a fossil.

Devonian Corals of the Falls of the Ohio and Surrounding Areas: Descriptions and photos of some of the corals to be found at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

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