Above: Specimen of Elegantocrinus hemisphaericus from Indian Creek, Montgomery County, Indiana (photo by K. Armstrong)
Indiana is one of a handful of states that does not currently have a state fossil. In 2011, rock clubs around the state of Indiana began to work on plans to propose legislature to name a crinoid as Indiana State Fossil. The discovery of crinoid fossils in Crawfordsville, Indiana was significant because of the abundance and diversity of well preserved specimens at the site. Sixty three species from 42 genera were found in Crawfordsville. Present day Crawfordsville would have been part of the Borden Delta 340 million years ago. This site was an ideal habitat to support the diverse proliferation of crinoids during the Mississippian period. The discovery was made in 1836 by Edmund Hovey, one of the founding faculty at Wabash College. He and son, Horace, amassed a large collection, many of which reside now in museums throughout the world. Quarrying of the fossil bed was significant between 1875 through 1906.
In 2011, Dr. David Polly, (Associate Professor of Geological Sciences, Paleontology, Indiana University) provided a thorough overview of the crinoids and their importance to the state of Indiana at a 500 Earth Sciences Club meeting. Dr. Polly recommended that Indiana consider Elegantocrinus hemisphaericus as the state fossil as this species was first discovered in Indiana and anatomically represents the species exquisitely.
After careful review of options, ISP supports the naming of Elegantocrinus hemisphaericus as state fossil. Sen. Philip Boots and Sen. Mark Stoops are sponsoring the bill SB114. You can see initial information at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/114.