What is the Official State Fossil of Massachusetts?

Massachusetts Treasures:
Official State Fossil of Massachusetts
By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

It’s an honor for me to be a guest blogger for Hilltown Families on behalf of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club! The Club’s members love to talk rocks, fossils, minerals and mineral collecting—any topic related to the field of geology! If you have questions (post below), I’ll be happy to pass them along to our members.

Every March, the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club sponsors the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” and as a result, five western Massachusetts schools benefit annually. Proceeds from the Club’s Show help us to provide Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kits, an attractive mineral collection that identifies official State rocks, minerals, and fossils—many representing western Massachusetts!

We’d like to offer students and homeschoolers who visit Hilltown Families the exclusive chance to win two free adult admissions to our 2011 Show coming up March 26 and 27, at the Holiday Inn at Ingleside, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. For the next three weeks, we’ll offer a contest question based on geology entries from the Club’s School Kit booklet, and Hilltown Families will randomly choose a weekly winner from comments submitted to each blog entry. Children 12 and under are admitted free for the Show, as well as Scouts in uniform. Winners will be contacted to provide names and addresses ahead of Show time for special complimentary admission at the door.


Our contest question for Week One is: What is the Official State Fossil of Massachusetts?

See if you can find the answer in this paragraph:

The Connecticut River Valley is world-famous for an abundance of the official state fossil of Massachusetts. In 1802, a young South Hadley farmer by the name of Pliny Moody was plowing his field and happened to turn over a rock, which had fossil tracks embedded in it. At the time he had no idea what he found, but later in 1833, Professor Hitchcock of Amherst College claimed an ancient bird made them. Years after, Pliny’s discovery was determined to be the first tracks found in North America left by dinosaurs! The Connecticut River Valley was actually once the location of large ancient lakes, which were visited by many different dinosaurs (Eubrontes, Grallator and Anchisaurus), walking in mud flats along the edges.

Deadline to enter to win is Monday, March 14th at 12pm (EST). Must include full name, town and an accurate email address in the comment fields below to be eligible to win. Name of winner will be posted below with directions on how to claim your tickets.


Amherst College has an extensive collection of Massachusetts’ official state fossils, many of which are from the western Massachusetts area. You can see them on display in the college’s Museum of Natural History.

In case you haven’t quite figured out what mystery fossil (or fossils) we mean, we’ve included an enlarged photo of a mounted specimen from our Club’s Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kit above.

Best of luck to all our contest participants! We’ll see you next week for our second blog post and contest question!

The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club promotes responsible rockhunting. Always ask permission to walk private lands and take only photographs, not samples, of protected geological formations. CVMC meets most months at the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more information, feel free to visit our website: www.cvmineralclub.org.


Maria Sanslone

Maria works as the primary cross-reference editor for Merriam-Webster Inc., in Springfield, Massachusetts. She and her team have cross-reference checked every dictionary entry for the last two editions of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Her personal life revolves around the work that she does in memory of her son, William, for two family-oriented nonprofits in western Massachusetts: Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club. It was the desire to learn from experienced collectors about New England’s minerals on behalf of kids on treatment that led her and her husband to join the CVMC community.

2 Comments on “What is the Official State Fossil of Massachusetts?

  1. Congratulations, Kelly Hughes of Chesterfield! You are the winner of tickets of two free adult admissions to our 2011 Show coming up March 26 and 27, at the Holiday Inn at Ingleside, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Please contact us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for information on how to claim your tickets.

  2. The Dinosaur Track is the official state fossil of Massachusetts.

    Kelly Hughes
    Chesterfield, MA

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