Explore Ohio’s Statehouse fossils with new ODNR booklet


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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Geological Survey has published a new booklet that highlights the diversity of fossils found in Ohio’s capitol. “Statehouse Fossils: A Guide to Fossils of the Ohio Capitol” offers readers the information, illustrations and maps designed for self-guided explorations.

The Ohio Statehouse is constructed primarily of building stones from a geologic unit that geologists call the Columbus Limestone. Known as a world-class fossil deposit, the Columbus Limestone formed from sediments deposited around 390–405 million years ago during the Devonian Period.

At that time, Ohio was located south of the Equator and covered by a warm, shallow sea full of marine life, such as corals, sponges and many shell-bearing animals. The remains of these organisms comprise the Columbus Limestone we see today. Many of the classic observation sites were quarries that either have been reclaimed or are no longer accessible to the public, and the Statehouse is one of the best and few remaining places in the state to observe these fossils.

Written by Division paleontologist Mark Peter, the new booklet describes many of the fossils found in the Statehouse walls, floors and steps. It features numerous color photos and living reconstructions of extinct organisms, beautifully crafted by artist Madison Perry, whose illustrations were used to create the Fossils of the Columbus Limestone poster published in 2020. The booklet also includes a section for readers to use for a self-guided tour of the Statehouse fossils, as well as tools for documenting the fossils they observe.

“This guide allows visitors to experience the Ohio Statehouse in an entirely new way,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “The legacy of Ohio’s natural, cultural, and economic history is richly represented in the building stones of our Capitol.”

Later this spring, Statehouse Fossils will be included in a COSI Learning Lunchbox focused on dinosaurs. ODNR is a partnering with COSI on the Learning Lunchbox program and is providing supplemental materials to be included in the science-based kits that are distributed to under-served youth across Ohio.

Statehouse Fossils is available as a free download on the Division of Geological Survey website. Printed copies are free and will be made available to visitors at the Ohio Statehouse gift shop. They also can be ordered by contacting the Geologic Records Center at 614-265-6576 or geo.survey@dnr.state.oh.us. Shipping will be added to all orders.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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