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Senator Peters Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Designate the Mastodon as America’s National Fossil

Mastodon Named Michigan’s State Fossil in 2002

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) introduced bipartisan legislation – called the National Fossil Act – that would designate the Mastodon as the United States’ first-ever national fossil. Currently, nearly every state has a designated state fossil – including Michigan – which named the Mastodon as its state fossil in 2002.

“Michigan made history when we uncovered one of the most complete skeletons of the Mastodon ever found, and we continue to find traces of this prehistoric giant all throughout our state,” said Senator Peters. “The Mastodon represents a unique piece of both Michigan’s and our nation’s history. By establishing the Mastodon as our national fossil, we can better preserve that history and inspire a new generation of scientists and researchers to continue their pursuit of discovery.”

The Mastodon lived more than 13,000 years ago, predominantly in an area that would eventually become the United States of America. Standing at over 10 feet tall, weighing more than 11 tons, and carrying a pair of 16-foot-long tusks, the Mastodon bears resemblance to its distant cousin, the Mammoth. Mastodon fossils are uniquely exclusive to North and Central America and its bones have been unearthed in every state across the continental U.S.

Mastodon fossils have been found in more than 250 locations across Michigan. One of the most complete Mastodon skeletons ever found was discovered near Owosso, Michigan, and is currently displayed at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Natural History. The longest and most intact trail of Mastodon footprints ever uncovered, about 30 footprints, were also detected in Michigan near Ann Arbor. Most recently in 2022, a historic discovery was made in Kent County when a juvenile Mastodon skeleton was found roughly 75-80 percent intact. The remains are now on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Michigan designated the Mastodon as its state fossil after the idea was proposed by a Washtenaw Community College geology professor. The professor solicited support from K-12 students and teachers throughout the state, collecting thousands of petition signatures in support of the designation and staging a pro-Mastodon rally at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.

Senator Peters introduced this bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN).