the Virginia Museum of Natural History has drawers filled with the Virginia state fossil, Chesapecten jeffersonius
Source: Virginia Museum of Natural History, The Amazing Chesapecten
Virginia's state fossil is Chesapecten jeffersonius, a scallop found in the Lower Yorktown Formation. Species in the genus Chesapecten swam in shallow Mid-Atlantic waters for 5 million years during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, between 8 million - 3 million years ago.
If any fossilized dinosaur bones had ever been discovered in Virginia, then children might have petitioned the General Assembly to designate a dinosaur species as the state fossil. Chesapecten jeffersonius won the honor in part because in 1687 it became the first fossil from North America to be described n a European scientific journal, and in part because:1
The sheer volume of surviving Chesapecten jeffersonius fossils have allowed fine-scale evaluation of how the species evolved, and how environmental conditions in the oceans shifted. Few other fossil records are sufficiently complete, with clear documentation of age, to assess change over time.
Though other scallop species replaced Chesapecten jeffersonius long before humans arrived in Virginia, Native Americans took advantage of the fossils to create scrapers. The Yorktown Formation was well-exposed on the Coastal Plain, and fossils could be extracted from the soft sediments by simply digging with a stick.2