Were There Dinosaurs Running Around Illinois Millions Of Years Ago?
After the news recently broke about the new discovery of an ancient relative of the velociraptor on Great Britain's Isle of Wight, we couldn't help but wonder if there have been dinosaur fossils found here in the Land of Lincoln.
There have been a lot of new dinosaur discoveries around the world lately, so why not here in Illinois? Didn't we have dinos, too?
The Answer Is A Definite Yes...But No, When It Comes To Illinois Dinosaurs
The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal says that no dinosaur bones or fossils have ever been discovered in Illinois. The reason being that Illinois' geologic sediments were being eroded away, rather than actively deposited, during most of the Mesozoic Era, which covered a timespan from 250,000,000 BC to 65,000 BC.
Still, Illinois can boast a significant number of amphibians and invertebrates dating to the Paleozoic Era (541,000,000 BC to 251,900,000), as well as a handful of Pleistocene period (2,600,00 BC to 12,000 BC) pachyderms (Woolly Mammoths, Mastodons and other elephant type mammals). For much of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras (250,000,000 BC to 2,000,000 BC), Illinois was geologically unproductive -- hence the lack of fossils dating from this vast expanse of time.
If it makes you feel any better, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana have come up with zilch in the dinosaur department, too.
We May Not Have Any Dinosaur Fossils To Find, But We Do Have The Tully Monster
Illinois' Official State Fossil is the Tully Monster, or if you want to be all technical about it, Tullimonstrum. A 300 million year old fossil of a Tully Monster was discovered in 1955 by an amateur collector named Francis Tully in a fossil bed here in Illinois known as the Mazon Creek formation. Tully Monsters have only been found here in Illinois.
Here's what the fossil looks like.
And here's what scientists think the Tully Monster may have looked like while alive.