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The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals of Pennsylvania


Although dinosaurs undoubtedly roamed Pennsylvania during the Mesozoic Era, they didn't leave any fossil traces--unlike other prehistoric animals that lived in this state, as listed below. (See an interactive map of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in the United States.)

1. Fedexia

Carnegie Museum of Natural History
If the name Fedexia strikes you as a bit odd, that's because this prehistoric amphibian was discovered near a Federal Express building at Pittsburgh International Airport. Vaguely reminiscent of an overgrown salamander, Fedexia probably subsisted on the small bugs and land animals of the late Carboniferous period (about 300 million years ago).

2. Hynerpeton

Nobu Tamura
Long considered to be the first true amphibian, Hynerpeton retained some features reminiscent of the lobe-finned fish (and earlier tetrapods) from which it evolved, including multiple-toed feet and a noticeable fin on its tail. This creature's greatest claim to fame may be that its fossils were discovered in Pennsylvania, not otherwise considered a hotbed of paleontology.

3. Hypsognathus

Nobu Tamura
Hypsognathus was one of the few anapsid reptiles to survive into the Triassic period; most of these prehistoric reptiles, which were characterized by the lack of certain holes in their skulls, went extinct about 250 million years ago. Today, the only surviving anapsid reptiles are turtles, tortoises and terrapins, many of which can still be found in Pennsylvania.

4. Phacops

Wikimedia Commons
The official state fossil of Pennsylvania, Phacops was a common trilobite (three-lobed arthropod) of the Silurian and Devonian periods. The persistence of Phacops in the fossil record can be partially explained by the tendency of this invertebrate to roll up into a well-protected, near-impenetrable armored ball when threatened!
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