State fossil bill passes legislature, awaiting governor’s approval

February 16, 2022

The state of Indiana will soon join Michigan in selecting the mastodon to become the official state fossil.

The Indiana Senate approved House Bill 1013, sponsored by Rep. Randy Frye, by a vote of 39 to 6. The bill was previously passed unanimously by the Indiana House of Representatives.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.

The mastodon is an Ice Age mammal related to modern day elephants. It went extinct about 10,500 years ago, and its fossils have been found in nearly every county in Indiana.

The first mastodon fossils were discovered in 1705 in New York State. They have been since found across North America. The state of Michigan made the mastodon the state fossil in 2002.

Citizen scientists previously attempted to convince the Indiana Legislature to name the fossil of a species of ancient marine animal discovered in Crawfordsville, called a crinoid, as the state fossil.

A bill was presented in 2015 but died in committee.

Others have suggested the state fossil could be another fossil discovered in Indiana, the dire wolf.

The creature, made famous by the book and HBO series Game of Thrones, was based on a real Ice Age canine whose fossil was first discovered near Evansville in 1854.

State fossil bill passes legislature, awaiting governor’s approval