Maine is renowned for its rocky coastlines, rich forests, and abundant fisheries. However, the state is not known for an abundance of dinosaur fossils. In fact, asking about the number of dinosaurs that lived in Maine is the wrong approach to the topic of ancient creatures in the area. Instead, it’s best to ask, did any dinosaurs live in Maine?
We’ll explain what’s going on in the Pine Tree State and tell you about what fossils have been found in Maine and where you can see them.
What Is Maine’s State Fossil?
Pertica quadrifaria is the state fossil of Maine. You may have noticed that this is not a dinosaur fossil, and we’ll spend some time explaining why that is the case. Instead, Pertica quadrifaria is a plant that lived about 390 million years ago.
The plant grew near an active volcano in an area that was probably marshy. Those inferences were made based on the fossils found nearby and the type of rocks that contained the plant.
The plant was believed to be about six feet tall with a 1-inch-thick stem, branches that ended in forked tips, and spore clusters on the ends of some branches.
Fortunately, fossils of this plant were set in stone when the plants fell into the marshes around which they grew and became covered in sediment before they could break down.
The fossils of this plant are very old, dating back far into the past. Some marine animal fossils were also found dating back to around that time. However, scientists discovered that the state is missing fossils from 360 million years ago to almost the present day.
Next, we’re going to spend more time exploring Maine’s unique history and why it has so few fossils.
Why We Have No Evidence of Dinosaurs That Lived in Maine
Maine is one of a few states in the United States that has no fossil records of any dinosaurs. The state has a massive gap in its fossil record, lasting from about 360 million years ago to about 1 million years ago.
Most terrestrial dinosaurs lived between 245 and 66 million years ago. The length of the fossil gap is longer than the entire history of the dinosaurs. The burning question is, what caused that fossil gap to occur?
Maine didn’t always look the same as it does today. The state spent millions of years underwater. However, during the Devonian period, from 419.2 million years ago until 360 million years ago, parts of Maine began to dry out. The mountain-building events elevated Maine until it was mostly dry land at the end of the Devonian period. Some fossils survived from this time, including the Pertica quadrifaria.
However, the Devonian period was marked by Long mountain-building and erosion, ensuring few fossil-bearing rocks ever developed. Anything that did develop did not last. The development and movement of glaciers in Maine cut off hundreds of feet of rock and dirt from the state’s surface.
Essentially, any fossil evidence of dinosaurs was washed away during the Pleistocene Epoch, the time lasting until about 12,000 years ago. The history of any dinosaurs that lived in this state during the reptile’s reign was scrubbed clean.
What Are Some of the Dinosaurs That Lived in Maine?
We’ll never know about the dinosaurs that lived in Maine. Yet, it’s highly likely that dinosaurs did occupy Maine at some point.
Still, we can take a look at nearby states to see what sorts of dinosaurs lived in those areas. Consider some of the dinosaurs that lived in states close to Maine.
Massachusetts Was Home to at Least Four Types of Dinosaurs
Massachusetts is the closest state to Maine that has fossil evidence of dinosaurs. Some of the dinosaurs that lived in this area include:
Although Massachusetts is hardly a hotbed of dinosaur fossil evidence, some fossils have been recovered. Furthermore, the states south of Massachusetts, like Connecticut and New York, have other evidence that dinosaurs roamed the area, including fossils.
You probably noticed that Vermont and New Hampshire were not mentioned on this list. No dinosaur fossils were ever found in either of those states, and the reason for their absence is probably the same. The geological activity in the area erased any fossil and rock evidence of dinosaurs, creating a huge gap in their timeline.
What Fossil Evidence Exists in Maine?
Although Maine lacks fossil evidence of dinosaurs, that does not mean no fossils have ever been created. We’ve already mentioned that the state fossil is close to 390 million years old. Fossils around the same age and some newer ones have been located in this state as well.
For example, scientists and laymen alike have found fossils in Maine from the period following the last ice age, over 12,000 years ago. The fossils include animals like snails, barnacles, clams, and other marine life. Moreover, people have discovered fossils of creatures like walruses and even a mammoth! However, the mammoth probably washed up in Maine rather than living in the state.
If you would like to learn about the history of the state, you can go to the Maine State Museum. The museum has various exhibits and collections that go into depth about the natural history of the state.
However, finding the location of fossilized marine creatures and plants may be difficult. Colby College’s geology department has spent time discovering areas where fossilized plants are located, so a member of the department could put you on the right track.
All in all, we know very little about the dinosaurs that lived in Maine. We’re probably never going to discover which creatures lived in this state or what their lives were like.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Sean Pavone
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