What Is Utah’s State Fossil

Utah, a state known for its rich geological history and stunning landscapes, boasts a diverse array of fossils that provide a glimpse into the state’s ancient past. Among these fossils, one stands out as the official state fossil of Utah – the Allosaurus.

The Allosaurus, a large carnivorous dinosaur, roamed the lands of Utah approximately 155 to 145 million years ago, during the Late Jurassic period. It was first discovered in 1879 by a paleontologist named Othniel Charles Marsh in the Morrison Formation of Utah. This significant find led to the recognition of the Allosaurus as Utah’s state fossil in 1988.

The Allosaurus was a fearsome predator, measuring up to 40 feet in length and weighing around 3 to 4 tons. It had sharp, serrated teeth and powerful hind limbs, which allowed it to chase down and capture its prey. Its name, derived from Greek, means “different lizard,” referring to its distinct features compared to other contemporary dinosaurs.

With numerous Allosaurus fossil specimens discovered throughout Utah, the state has become a treasure trove for paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts. One of the most famous sites is the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, located in Emery County. This quarry has yielded over 12,000 bones from at least 74 individual Allosauruses, making it one of the densest concentrations of Jurassic dinosaur bones ever found.

The Allosaurus fossils found in Utah have shed light on various aspects of the dinosaur’s biology and behavior. Scientists have been able to study their bones and reconstruct their skeletal structure, gaining insights into their movement and anatomy. Additionally, evidence of bite marks on Allosaurus bones suggests that these dinosaurs engaged in intraspecific combat, possibly for territorial or mating purposes.

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The designation of the Allosaurus as Utah’s state fossil serves as a reminder of the state’s unique paleontological heritage and helps promote public interest in dinosaurs and natural history. Museums across Utah exhibit Allosaurus fossils, allowing visitors to marvel at the ancient remains and learn more about Utah’s prehistoric past.


Q: Are there any other fossils found in Utah?
A: Yes, Utah is home to numerous other fossils besides the Allosaurus. Some notable examples include the Utahraptor, a larger cousin of the Velociraptor, and the Trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod. Fossils of plants, fish, and mammals have also been discovered in various parts of the state.

Q: Can I go fossil hunting in Utah?
A: Fossil hunting is a popular activity in Utah, particularly in areas where fossils are known to be abundant. However, it is important to follow specific guidelines and regulations to ensure the preservation of the fossils and the safety of both visitors and the environment. It is recommended to join organized fossil digs or visit designated fossil collecting sites where permits may be required.

Q: How can I learn more about Utah’s fossils?
A: Utah offers a range of educational resources to learn about its fossils. Numerous museums, such as the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, have exhibits dedicated to fossils and dinosaurs. Additionally, guided tours, lectures, and educational programs are often available, providing an opportunity to interact with experts and learn more about Utah’s paleontological wonders.

Q: Are Allosauruses still alive today?
A: No, Allosauruses, along with other dinosaurs, became extinct around 65 million years ago. However, their descendants, such as birds, have survived and evolved over millions of years.

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Q: Can I purchase Allosaurus fossils?
A: As with any fossils, the sale and purchase of Allosaurus fossils are regulated by laws and ethical considerations. It is important to ensure that fossils are obtained legally and ethically through reputable sources. Collecting fossils on public lands without permission is prohibited. It is advisable to consult with experts or visit authorized dealers when looking to acquire genuine fossils.