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State Secret Saturday: New York State Fossil

Eurypterus remipes Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Eurypterus remipes Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

No, not that kind of state secret. Wikileaks is interesting, but what I find fascinating are the insane numbers of state symbols out there that have to do with geology. There are a plethora of official state fossils, rocks, stones, minerals, gemstones, semi-precious gemstones, dinosaurs, shells, and soils all across the United States. It’s kind of amazing. And you just know you want to start your weekend off right, with a random bit of state trivia.

This week, I wanted to kick off State Secret Saturdays with New York’s state fossil, Eurypterus remipes, which bears the appropriately alliterative nickname, Sea Scorpion.

E. remipes is just one of the many fantastic species known as eurypterids. Just for fun, lets take a look at it’s scientific classification:

    • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Arthropoda
    • Class: Merostomata
    • Order: Eurypterida
    • Superfamily: Eurypteroidea
    • Family: Eurypteridae
    • Genus: Eurypterus
    • Species: remipes

A bit repetitive, no? But Euypterids were an engaging group of critters. They were HUGE for arthropods, with at least one clocking in at a massive 4.27 feet long. Those weird long appendages were used to propel the bugs through the water, and were what gave Eurypterids their name (It means ‘wide wing’ or ‘broad paddle’ in greek.)

I always hated them in paleontology class (they were so weird-looking that they consistently threw me off when we were identifying fossils,) but now that I’m not being tested on them, I have to admit they are kind of cute in a weird aquatic scorpion kind of way.

Here is the official New York State description of this illustrious emblem:

Eurypterus remipes, an extinct relative of the modern king crab and sea scorpion, was adopted as the State fossil in 1984.

During the Silurian Age (over 400 million years ago), Eurypterus remipes crawled along the bottom of the shallow, brackish sea that covered much of New York, extending from Buffalo to Schenectady and south to Poughkeepsie, roughly along the route of the New York Thruway.”

For more information, Jack Share over at Written in Stone-Seen Through My Lens has a great series of blog posts about Eurypterids, where he describes them as “mix between a scorpion and a lobster on steroids.” Yes.

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  1. Paul Lancaster wrote:

    Growing up in western New York, always dreamed of finding one of these. Had to settle for trilobites, crinoids, and brachs.

    Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  2. Go visit Allan Lang in New York State here: Tell him I sent you!

    Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  3. MBGriggs wrote:

    Thanks for the recommendation Jack, and thanks for reading! I’ll certainly look into it.

    Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink