Michigan Doesn’t Have a State Dinosaur, But There Are Still Plenty Of Prehistoric Creatures To Explore
Ever since the first Jurassic Park movie came out in 1993, the interest in dinosaurs has skyrocketed. Ask anyone who was a kid when that movie came out, "What's your favorite dinosaur?" And guarantee they'll have an answer. (Ankylosaurus, in case you were wondering.)
With the new "Jurassic World: Dominion" movie coming out this year, it once again peaked my interest in dinosaurs, so I started to look into all of the State Dinosaurs in the U.S., and came across a tragic fact about Michigan - This state has no State Dinosaur!
But why? HOW? There HAS to be a state dinosaur, right? Dinosaurs have been found in almost every state and territory... but Michigan is NOT one of them.
Turns out, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, what would one day become Michigan, was being eroded. There's a good chance dinosaurs DID, in fact, live here, but their remains weren't given a chance to fossilize.
Prehistoric Mammoths, and Mastodons
HOWEVER... that's not to say Michigan doesn't have a state fossil, because IT DOES!
In 2015, a group of students from the University of Michigan discovered a Woolly Mammoth under a Lima Bean farm in Chelsea. It was the first time any extensive, large fossil had been found in the state. Then, in 2017 more researchers found 40 additional bones and bone fragments in the same site. They dated the fossils to more than 15,000 years ago, and determined these Mammoths were likely hunted and killed by humans.
Now, despite the earliest-known fossils being from a Mammoth, the actual, official fossil of Michigan is the American Mastodon. They shared territories with the Woolly Mammoths and lived around the same time period. But all went extinct around 10,000 years ago due to climate change and over hunting by humans.
How did the Mastodon become the state Fossil?
You can thank a group of eighth-graders from Wayne and Washtenaw Counties in 2002 for that one. They raised $1,500 to support updates to the University of Michigan's Exhibit Museum of Natural History, and campaigned to name the Mastodon the state fossil. State legislature then passed the bill.
So sadly, no dinosaurs in Michigan, but we do have a pretty cool history with incredible beasts of the past.