Maine State Fossil

Primitive Plant

Maine Fossil - Primitive Plant

(Pertica quadrifaria)

Adopted in 1985.

Primitive Plant, (Pertica quadrifaria,) was adopted in 1985 as Maine official state fossil. It was selected as the Maine State Fossil for several reasons.

1. It was first discovered in Maine.

2. It is also a rare fossil; well-preserved remains of Pertica are found at only three other places in the world besides Maine.

3. Finally, it is an important fossil scientifically as it represents a significant early step in the evolution of vascular land plants which ultimately resulted in numerous modern species, including the pine tree.

Maine State Fossil: Primitive Plant

Maine Fossil - Primitive Plant

Pertica is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Early to Middle Devonian (around 420 to 380 million years ago). It has been placed in the "trimerophytes", a strongly paraphyletic group of early members of the lineage leading to modern ferns and seed plants

Scientific name of a primitive plant that lived about 390,000,000 years ago during the Devonian Period. Pertica quadrifaria (the type species of the genus) was described in 1972 from compression fossils discovered in 1968 in the rocks of the Trout Valley Formation in Baxter State Park near Mount Katahdin.

Pertica was a simple plant of the trimerophyte lineage, lacking both leaves and roots. However, strong stems tipped with terminal sporangia (reproductive structures) allowed Pertica to grow to heights of as much as 9 feet. Photosynthesis was accomplished by the stems and numerous branches. Trimerophytes as a group are though to have given rise to all the subsequent groups of terrestrial plants except for the lycopods (clubmosses).

Based on the type of rock it is found in today and the other fossils associated with it, Pertica quadrifaria grew in a brackish or freshwater marsh near an active volcano. Fragments of the plants were preserved when they fell into the marsh and were covered by sediment before they could decay. After millions of years of burial, the plant remains are now exposed along eroding stream banks.

Maine Revised Statutes

The law designating the primitive plant as the official Maine state fossil is found in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 9, Subchapter 1, Section 216


"Pertica quadrifaria" shall be designated as the official fossil of the State of Maine. [1985, c. 737,
Pt. A, §3 (RPR).]
1985, c. 22, (NEW). 1985, c. 73, (NEW). 1985, c. 737, §A3 (RPR). 

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Pertica quadrifaria

Kingdom: Plantae
: Polysporangiophyta
Genus: Pertica
Species: P. quadrifaria Kasper & H.N.Andrews (1972

State Fossils
State Fossils
Most US states have made a state fossil designation, in many cases during the 1980s. It is common to designate one species in which fossilization has occurred, rather than a single specimen, or a category of fossils not limited to a single species.

Some states that lack a "state fossil" have nevertheless singled out a fossil for formal designation such as a state dinosaur, rock, gem or stone.