When we talk about fossils in Missouri, the conversation inevitably turns towards the state’s official dinosaur. Declared as such in 2004, the Hypsibema missouriensis is a fascinating creature that once roamed the area millions of years ago.
Hypsibema: The Missouri Dinosaur
The Hypsibema missouriensis is a species of dinosaur known to have lived in what is now Missouri during the Late Cretaceous period. This dinosaur was a type of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, and it remains one of the most significant dinosaurs found in Missouri.
The name “Hypsibema” might be a tongue twister for some, but its pronunciation is quite straightforward: “hip-si-be-ma.” The species name, “missouriensis,” simply denotes its discovery location—Missouri.
Discovery of the Hypsibema
The first Hypsibema fossil was discovered near the town of Glen Allen, MO. These fossils were initially classified as belonging to the genus Parrosaurus before being reclassified as Hypsibema. The Parrosaurus missouriensis, therefore, became Hypsibema missouriensis, marking an important milestone in the study of dinosaurs in Missouri.
Common Fossils in Missouri
While the Hypsibema is certainly the star of the show, it’s far from the only fossil found in Missouri. Crinoids are among the most common fossils in the state. These marine creatures, also known as sea lilies, are echinoderms related to starfish and sea urchins. Crinoid fossils are often found in limestone and other sedimentary rocks throughout Missouri.
Aside from crinoids, Missouri is also home to numerous fossils of trilobites, brachiopods, and other prehistoric marine life. These fossils provide a window into the ancient seas that once covered the state.
Crinoids are fascinating creatures with a rich fossil record in Missouri. They first appeared in the Ordovician Period, around 485 million years ago, and some species still exist today. These animals have a unique feeding system: they capture food particles from the water using feathery arms.
Other Dinosaurs in Missouri
While the Hypsibema missouriensis is the most famous dinosaur associated with Missouri, it’s not the only one. Other dinosaurs discovered in the state include the nodosaurid, a type of ankylosaur, and the tyrannosauroid, a relative of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex. These discoveries contribute to our understanding of the diverse ecosystems that existed in Missouri during the Cretaceous period.
The Importance of Fossil Study
Fossils offer invaluable insights into Earth’s history. By studying fossils, scientists can piece together how life has evolved over billions of years. In Missouri, the study of fossils—especially those of the Hypsibema missouriensis—has contributed significantly to our understanding of the Late Cretaceous period and the types of creatures that inhabited the planet at that time.
Missouri’s state dinosaur, the Hypsibema missouriensis, is more than just a symbol—it represents the state’s rich paleontological history. The dinosaur, along with other fossils like the crinoid, paints a picture of what life was like in Missouri millions of years ago. So next time you think about dinosaurs in Missouri, remember that these ancient creatures are an integral part of the state’s history and continue to captivate us with their fascinating stories.