Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals of Ohio Share Flipboard Email Print Daderot/Wikimedia Commons/CC0 Animals & Nature Dinosaurs Basics Paleontologists Carnivores Dinosaurs & Birds Herbivores Marine Reptiles Prehistoric Mammals Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Forestry Evolution View More By Bob Strauss Science Writer B.S., Cornell University Bob Strauss is a science writer and the author of several books, including "The Big Book of What, How and Why" and "A Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of North America." our editorial process Bob Strauss Updated February 18, 2019 First, the good news: A huge number of fossils have been discovered in the state of Ohio, many of which are spectacularly preserved. Now, the bad news: virtually none of these fossils were laid down during the Mesozoic or Cenozoic eras, meaning that not only have no dinosaurs ever been discovered in Ohio, but neither have any prehistoric birds, pterosaurs, or megafauna mammals. Discouraged? Don't be. Let's discover the most notable prehistoric animals to have lived in the Buckeye State. 01 of 04 Cladoselache James St. John/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 The most famous fossil bed in Ohio is the Cleveland Shale, which harbors creatures dating back to the Devonian period, about 400 million years ago. The most famous prehistoric shark to be discovered in this formation, Cladoselache was a bit of an oddball: This six-foot-long predator mostly lacked scales, and it didn't possess the "claspers" that modern male sharks use to hold on to the opposite sex during mating. Cladoselache's teeth were also smooth and blunt, an indication that it swallowed fish whole rather than chewing them first. 02 of 04 Dunkleosteus James St John/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 A contemporary of Cladoselache, Dunkleosteus was one of the largest prehistoric fish in the history of the planet, the full-grown adults of some species measuring 30 feet from head to tail and weighing three to four tons. As big as it was, Dunkleosteus (along with the other "placoderms" of the Devonian period) was covered with armor plating. Unfortunately, the Dunkleosteus specimens discovered in Ohio are the runts of the litter, only about as big as modern tuna! 03 of 04 Prehistoric Amphibians Smokeybjb/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 Ohio is famous for its lepospondyls, prehistoric amphibians of the Carboniferous and Permian periods characterized by their small size and (often) weird appearance. The dozen or so lepospondyl genera discovered in the Buckeye State include the tiny, snakelike Phlegethontia and the strange-looking Diploceraspis, which possessed an oversized head shaped like a boomerang (which was likely an adaptation meant to deter predators from swallowing it whole). 04 of 04 Isotelus Daderot/Wikimedia Commons/CC0 The official state fossil of Ohio, Isotelus was discovered in the southwestern part of the state in the late 1840s. One of the largest trilobites (a family of ancient arthropods related to crabs, lobsters, and insects) ever identified, Isotelus was a marine-dwelling, bottom-feeding invertebrate of a type very common during the Paleozoic Era. The largest specimen, unfortunately, was excavated outside Ohio: a two-foot-long behemoth from Canada named Isotelus rex.