Indiana House Bill 1013 would make the mastodon, which roamed North America, Europe and Asia more than 2 million years before going extinct about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, as the official state fossil.
Indiana House Bill 1013 would make the mastodon, which roamed North America, Europe and Asia more than 2 million years before going extinct about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, as the official state fossil.
The Hoosier State apparently is going to go big if it's going to finally exit the list of five states lacking an officially designated fossil.

The House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee unanimously endorsed a plan Wednesday to name the mastodon as Indiana's state fossil.

House Bill 1013 notes the remains of some 300 mastodons and mammoths have been discovered in Indiana across nearly all 92 counties, including a 2019 mastodon find in Seymour, Indiana, that uncovered a nine-foot tall, elephant-like animal weighing approximately 12,000 pounds who died between age 40 and 50 some 13,000 years ago.

In 2005, workers digging a pond in Hebron unearthed the bones of at least five mastodons that later were acquired by the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis for cleaning, study and possible future display.

The mastodon also is the sports teams mascot at Purdue University's regional campus in Fort Wayne.

Records show mastodons roamed North America, Europe and Asia for more than two million years before going extinct about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago.

State Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, said making the mastodon the official state fossil will encourage Indiana schoolchildren to learn more about the beasts that once walked where they walk and may even be resting right under their feet.

He said the designation also could spur museums across the state to display more mastodon bones and to sell t-shirts and other souvenirs touting the mastodon as Indiana's official fossil.

Michigan is the only other state to have the mastodon as its state fossil. Five other states, including Nebraska, have designated the similar mammoth, or wooly mammoth, as their state fossil.

The state fossil of Illinois is a Tully monster, a small worm-like creature with up to eight sharp teeth that lived some 300 million years ago in muddy waters in what today is part of Grundy County, Illinois.

Indiana's mastodon legislation next goes to the full House for a decision on advancing it to the Senate, and then potentially to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to be signed into law.

In recent years, Hoosier lawmakers have added a state snack (Indiana-grown popcorn), state aircraft (Republic P-47 Thunderbolt) and a state insect (Say's firefly), to its traditional state symbols, including a flower (peony), tree (tulip tree) and bird (cardinal).
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