Our State Fossil

The State Fossil of Vermont is a singular Beluga whale skeleton found in a farmer's field in western Vermont in 1849. It is thought to be approximately 11,500 years old. It caused a stir at the time and led to a wholesale revision of the geology of western New England.

In the early 1990's, Jeff Howe was the curator of the geology museum at the University of Vermont, where the specimen is housed. Jeff recalls, "As I remember it, a couple of us were chatting in my basement office when the phone rang. It was a teacher from the elementary school in Charlotte, Vermont (the city in which the whale was found.)

"The teacher was looking for ways to use the whale as an educational tool and as we talked, I suggested that the whale would make a great State Fossil. I forgot about the conversation but the teacher apparently sought the help of a local legislator and a bill was proposed. I attended hearings and testified as an "expert".

"The whale was declared the official State Fossil in 1993, and the bill was signed into law by Governor Howard Dean at a ceremony at the elementary school in Charlotte."

The whale is referred to as the "Charlotte Whale" or simply "Charlotte".

Charlotte, The Vermont Whale Directory of Exhibits

Copyright 1996 University of Vermont and others. All rights reserved.

Brought to you through the courtesy of Enterprise Technology Services, University of Vermont. Copyright © 1996 The University of Vermont and others. All rights reserved.
Wesley.Wright@uvm.edu and jefflhowe@verizon.net
last updated November 16, 2009