30 million years ago, Florida’s landscape was vastly different from what we see today. In fact, prior to the end of the Cenozoic ere (30 – 23 million years ago), most of the state was underwater. Since what we know about dinosaurs is that they died over 60 million years ago, its no wonder no dinosaur fossils have been found in the state.
Once Florida emerged from the sea, it became home to prehistoric animals. The miles of rivers and lakes made it the perfect environment for prehistoric animals such as the mastodon, mammoth, sloth, jaguar, dire wolf, saber cat, short faced bear, lion, camel, tapir, and giant armadillo. Many of the fossils left behind from these prehistoric animals exist in Florida museums for all to see.
While Florida is not the place to dig for dinosaur bones, it is a haven for those Pleistocene megafauna and other vertebrate fossils!
Florida’s official state fossil is the Eupatagus, an invertebrate ancestor of the sea urchin.
Some of the most popular and common fossils found in Florida include:
- Mastodons & Mammoths – ancestors of the Elephant
- Megatherium & Eremotherium – Giant Ground Sloths
- Dire Wolf
- Prehistoric Sharks
- Prehistoric Horses
- American Lion
- Saber-Toothed Cat