INDIANAPOLIS — Ever wondered which dinosaurs roamed prehistoric Indiana?
Well, determining what type of creatures occupied the state during the Mesozoic Era has actually proven to be a difficult task for researchers.
Paleontologists have had a difficult time deciphering Indiana’s history from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods simply because no dinosaur remains have ever been uncovered in the Hoosier State.
According to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, scientists believe Ice Age-era glaciers wiped out all the bedrock and sediment in Indiana that could’ve contained dinosaur bones. Indiana Geological Survey reported that the youngest bedrock in Indiana is “far too old to contain dinosaur fossils.” IGS also indicated that New Jersey and Kansas are the localities nearest Indiana that have been known to contain dinosaur fossils.
AZ Animals reported that some of the youngest remaining bedrock in Indiana is 300 million years old, which predates dinosaurs by about 50 million years. The United Kingdom’s Natural History Museum has indicated dinosaurs likely burst onto the scene approximately 250 million years ago and went extinct 65 million years ago.
Because no dinosaur bones have been discovered in Indiana, the Hoosier State is one of 36 in the U.S. without an official state dinosaur. Additionally, Indiana did not have a state fossil until July 2022, per Indiana University.
Indiana lawmakers voted to make the mastodon Indiana’s state fossil in February 2022, according to IndyStar. Historians think the Ice Age glaciers that wiped dinosaur bones from Indiana likely helped bring unique creatures like wooly mammoths, mastodons and giant short-faced bears to the area, according to ThoughtCo.
Per the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, the Ice Ages began about 2.4 million years ago and ended approximately 11,500 years ago. Some of the oldest limestone bedrock found in Indiana is estimated to be 570 million years old, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Paleontologists have discovered many creatures by digging through Indiana’s ancient Iimestone. Scientists believe the North American continent used to be located much further south and closer to the equator than it is today.
When the limestone was formed, Indiana was likely covered by a shallow ocean. Because the Hoosier State used to be underwater, researchers have found fossilized marine animals like clams and snails in Indiana, per the DNR.