West Virginia State Museum Education

The West Virginia State Fossil

State Symbols

Jefferson's Ground Sloth

sloth

Besides naming an official State Reptile, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 28, which passed on March 8, 2008, also declared the Megalonyx Jeffersonii, or Jefferson’s ground sloth, as the official State Fossil. In 1797, President Thomas Jefferson obtained and described fossil bones from a limestone cave in what is now Monroe County. These bones were again described by Casper Winstar in 1799 as the bones of a giant extinct ground sloth and were named in honor of President Jefferson. Named in order to promote the earth sciences and the history of our region, the bones are from the Ice Age (or Pleistocene Epoch), which lasted from 10,000 to 1.8 million years ago.

Helpful Links

House Concurrent Resolution No. 28 State Fossil and Reptile Information

e-WV article on Megalonyx jeffersonii