Timeline of paleontology in Michigan

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This timeline of paleontology in Michigan is a chronologically ordered list events in the history of paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Michigan.


19th century

Platygonus compressus skeleton. Platygonus compressus Harvard.jpg
Platygonus compressus skeleton.





20th century




Walrus penis bones from Alaska. Armand de Montlezun (1841-1914) Bacalum Morse.jpg
Walrus penis bones from Alaska.





Modern bowhead whales. Bowhead whales swimming in Lingolm strait by Vladislav Raevskii.JPG
Modern bowhead whales.










Restoration of a Columbian or "Jefferson" mammoth Mammuthus columbi Sergiodlarosa.jpg
Restoration of a Columbian or "Jefferson" mammoth






21st century



See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mastodon</span> Genus of mammals (fossil)

A mastodon is any proboscidean belonging to the extinct genus Mammut. Mastodons inhabited North and Central America during the late Miocene or late Pliocene up to their extinction at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. They lived in herds and were predominantly forest-dwelling animals. They generally had a browsing diet, distinct from that of the contemporary Columbian mammoth, which tended towards grazing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Big Bone Lick State Park</span> Geographical object

Big Bone Lick State Park is located at Big Bone in Boone County, Kentucky. The name of the park comes from the Pleistocene megafauna fossils found there. Mammoths are believed to have been drawn to this location by a salt lick deposited around the sulfur springs. Other animals including forms of bison, caribou, deer, elk, horse, mastodon, moose, musk ox, peccary, ground sloths, wolves, black bears, stag moose, saber-toothed cats, and possibly tapir also grazed the vegetation and salty earth around the springs that the animals relied on for their diet. One mastodon bone was unearthed here with a noticeable cut mark on it, implying that the Clovis people lived in the area thousands of years ago. The area near the springs was very soft and marshy causing many animals to become stuck with no way to escape. It bills itself as "the birthplace of American paleontology", a term which dates from the 1807 expedition by William Clark undertaken at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson. In Nicholas Cresswell's journal, dated 1774 to 1777, he records a visit in 1775 to what was then called "Elephant Bone Lick." In this account, Cresswell describes finding several bones of "prodigious size", as well as tusk fragments, and teeth—one weighing approximately 10 pounds. While he assumed the bones were from ancient elephants, the local native traditions claimed the bones to be those of white buffaloes that had been poisoned by the salty water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Columbian mammoth</span> Extinct species of mammoth that inhabited North America

The Columbian mammoth is an extinct species of mammoth that inhabited the Americas as far north as the Northern United States and as far south as Costa Rica during the Pleistocene epoch. It was one of the last in a line of mammoth species, beginning with Mammuthus subplanifrons in the early Pliocene. DNA studies show that the Columbian mammoth was a hybrid species between woolly mammoths and another lineage descended from steppe mammoths; the hybridization happened more than 420,000 years ago. The pygmy mammoths of the Channel Islands of California evolved from Columbian mammoths. The closest extant relative of the Columbian and other mammoths is the Asian elephant.

<i>Mammuthus meridionalis</i> Extinct species of mammal

Mammuthus meridionalis, or the southern mammoth, is an extinct species of mammoth native to Europe and Central Asia from the Gelasian stage of the Early Pleistocene, living from 2.5–0.8 mya.


Platygonus is an extinct genus of herbivorous peccaries of the family Tayassuidae, endemic to North and South America from the Miocene through Pleistocene epochs, existing for about 10.289 million years. P. compressus stood 2.5 feet tall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Museum of the Earth</span>

The Museum of the Earth is a natural history museum located in Ithaca, New York. The museum was opened in 2003 as part of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), an independent organization pursuing research and education in the history of the Earth and its life. Both PRI and the Museum of the Earth are formally affiliated with Cornell University. The Museum of the Earth is home to Earth science exhibits and science-related art displays with a focus on the concurrent evolution of the Earth and life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Melbourne Bone Bed</span> Pleistocene fossil and archaeological site in Florida

Melbourne Bone Bed is a paleontological site located at Crane Creek in Melbourne, in the U.S. state of Florida. This site contains fossils from the Late Pleistocene period 20,000 to 10,000 years before present. The fossils include extinct animals such as varieties of camels, dire wolves, Florida cave bears, giant armadillos, giant beavers, giant bison, giant ground sloths, mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats and tapirs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orange County, Florida paleontological sites</span>

The Orange County paleontological sites are assemblages of Late Pleistocene vertebrates occurring in Orange County, Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polk County, Florida paleontological sites</span>

The Polk County paleontological sites are assemblages of Early Miocene to Late Pleistocene vertebrates occurring in Polk County, Florida, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre</span> Human and natural history museum in Yukon, Canada

The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre is a research and exhibition facility located at km 1423 on the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse, Yukon, which opened in 1997. The focus of the interpretive centre is the story of Beringia, the 3200 km landmass stretching from the Kolyma River in Siberia to the MacKenzie River in Canada, which remained non-glaciated during the Pleistocene due to light snowfall from an arid climate. Beringia is of special interest to archeologists and paleontologists as it played a crucial role in the migrations of many animals and humans between Asia and the Americas. The term Beringia was first coined by the Swedish botanist Eric Hultén in 1937.

Saltville Archaeological Site SV-2 an apparent Pre-Clovis archaeological site located in the Saltville Valley near Saltville, Virginia. The site was excavated from 1992 to 1997 by paleogeographer Jerry N. McDonald of the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Throughout the State of Michigan in the United States, many people have found the remains of Pleistocene mammals, almost exclusively mammoths and mastodons. Most of these fossils are found by farmers or construction workers, but most are now in the collection of the University of Michigan. The finding of vertebrate fossils in Michigan is quite rare, so it is best to turn over any specimens to a university or museum for proper cleaning and documentation. Many of these mastodon fossils are found in Southern Michigan, mostly around Ann Arbor. Most mammoth sites are in Northern Michigan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in Michigan</span>

Paleontology in Michigan refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Michigan. During the Precambrian, the Upper Peninsula was home to filamentous algae. The remains it left behind are among the oldest known fossils in the world. During the early part of the Paleozoic Michigan was covered by a shallow tropical sea which was home to a rich invertebrate fauna including brachiopods, corals, crinoids, and trilobites. Primitive armored fishes and sharks were also present. Swamps covered the state during the Carboniferous. There are little to no sedimentary deposits in the state for an interval spanning from the Permian to the end of the Neogene. Deposition resumed as glaciers transformed the state's landscape during the Pleistocene. Michigan was home to large mammals like mammoths and mastodons at that time. The Holocene American mastodon, Mammut americanum, is the Michigan state fossil. The Petoskey stone, which is made of fossil coral, is the state stone of Michigan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in New York (state)</span>

Paleontology in New York refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of New York. New York has a very rich fossil record, especially from the Devonian. However, a gap in this record spans most of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in Florida</span>

Paleontology in Florida refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Florida. Florida has a very rich fossil record spanning from the Eocene to recent times. Florida fossils are often very well preserved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in Vermont</span>

Paleontology in Vermont comprises paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Vermont. Fossils are generally uncommon in Vermont. Nevertheless, however, significant finds have been made in the state. Very few fossils are known in Vermont east of the Green Mountains due to the type of rock underlying that area. During the early part of the Paleozoic era, Vermont was covered by a warm, shallow sea that would end up being home to creatures like brachiopods, corals, crinoids, ostracoderms, and trilobites. There are no rocks in the state from the Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, or Jurassic periods. The few Cretaceous rocks present contain no fossils. The Paleogene and Neogene periods are also absent from the local rock record. During the Ice Age, glaciers scoured the state. At times the state was inundated by seawater, allowing marine mammals to venture in. After the seawater drained away the state was home to mastodons. Local fossils had already attracted scientific attention by the mid-19th century when mastodon remains were found in Rutland County. In 1950 a major Paleozoic invertebrate find occurred. The Pleistocene Beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas is the Vermont state fossil.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in Kansas</span>

Paleontology in Kansas refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Kansas. Kansas has been the source of some of the most spectacular fossil discoveries in US history. The fossil record of Kansas spans from the Cambrian to the Pleistocene. From the Cambrian to the Devonian, Kansas was covered by a shallow sea. During the ensuing Carboniferous the local sea level began to rise and fall. When sea levels were low the state was home to richly vegetated deltaic swamps where early amphibians and reptiles lived. Seas expanded across most of the state again during the Permian, but on land the state was home to thousands of different insect species. The popular pterosaur Pteranodon is best known from this state. During the early part of the Cenozoic era Kansas became a savannah environment. Later, during the Ice Age, glaciers briefly entered the state, which was home to camels, mammoths, mastodons, and saber-teeth. Local fossils may have inspired Native Americans to regard some local hills as the homes of sacred spirit animals. Major scientific discoveries in Kansas included the pterosaur Pteranodon and a fossil of the fish Xiphactinus that died in the act of swallowing another fish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleontology in Idaho</span>

Paleontology in Idaho refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Idaho. The fossil record of Idaho spans much of the geologic column from the Precambrian onward. During the Precambrian, bacteria formed stromatolites while worms left behind trace fossils. The state was mostly covered by a shallow sea during the majority of the Paleozoic era. This sea became home to creatures like brachiopods, corals and trilobites. Idaho continued to be a largely marine environment through the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic era, when brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, ichthyosaurs and sharks inhabited the local waters. The eastern part of the state was dry land during the ensuing Cretaceous period when dinosaurs roamed the area and trees grew which would later form petrified wood.

The Cerutti Mastodon site is a paleontological and possible archeological site located in San Diego County, California. In 2017, researchers announced that broken mastodon bones at the site had been dated to around 130,700 years ago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burning Tree Mastodon</span>

The Burning Tree Mastodon site in Heath, southern Licking County, Ohio, represents the location where the most complete skeleton of American mastodon was found. It is dated to about 11,500 BP. It is believed that there was human presence at the site at that time.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wilson (1967); "Mammut americanum (Kerr). American Mastodon", p. 213.
  2. 1 2 Wilson (1967); "Platygonus compressus (Le Conte). Peccary", p. 215.
  3. 1 2 3 Wilson (1967); "Odobenus sp.", p. 212.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wilson (1967); "Mammuthus jeffersoni (Osborn). Jefferson Mammoth", p. 214.
  5. 1 2 Wilson (1967); "? Balaena sp.", p. 213.
  6. Wilson (1967); "Whales", p. 212.
  7. Wilson (1967); "Cervus canadensis Erxleben. Elk", p. 215.
  8. Wilson (1967); "Balaenoptera sp. Rorquals", p. 213.
  9. Wilson (1967); "Physeter sp. Sperm Whale", p. 212.
  10. Holman, J. Alan; Fisher, Daniel C.; Kapp, Ronald O. (September 22, 2003). "Recent discoveries of fossil vertebrates in the lower Peninsula of Michigan". Michigan Academician. XVIII (3): 431–63. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  11. Wilson (1967); "Mammut americanum (Kerr). American Mastodon", p. 214.

Works cited