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Arnold Arboretum

Q: What is the state fossil of Massachusetts?

A: Dinosaur tracks

The Connecticut River Valley is world-famous for an abundance of the official state fossil of Massachusetts. In 1802, a young farmer named Pliny Moody from South Hadley, Massachusetts, 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 in 1833, Professor Hitchcock of Amherst College claimed they were footprints of an ancient bird. Years later, Pliny’s discovery was determined to be the first tracks found in North America left by dinosaurs! While no dinosaur fossils have been found at the Arboretum, we do have a famous “living fossil” growing here—the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

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