The Maine State Fossil

Maine State Fossil
This illustration, along with fossil samples, is in one of the thirteen display cabinets exhibiting Maine biology and geology. The Maine State Fossil (Pertica quadrifaria) is a primitive plant that lived about 400 million years ago in what geologists call the Devonian Period. It is found in the Trout Brook formation near Mt. Katahdin.

The plant reached a height of about two meters, which made it one of the largest plants of its time. The plant had a long stem, with branches arranged in four rows that spiraled upward.

Fertile branches ended in clusters of sporangia (spore cases), while sterile branches subdivided to form forked tips. Some researchers believe that these forked ends represent an early step in the evolution of leaves. This plant was selected as the Maine State Fossil because it was first discovered in this state and is a scientifically important fossil that represents a significant early step in the evolution of vascular land plants.