Virginia State Fossil - Scallop (Chesapecten jeffersonius)

In 1993, the Virginia state legislature designated the fossil scallop (Chesapecten jeffersonius) as the Virginia state fossil.

Chesapecten jeffersonius holds the distinction of being the first North American fossil to be illustrated in scientific literature in 1687. It would later be named to honor Thomas Jefferson because of his interest in natural history and to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

Chesapecten is a lineage of scallops that flourished in the shallow seas along the Mid-Atlantic during the Miocene to Pliocene. It would have looked very similar to modern day scallops. Fossils of this ancient shellfish are commonly found in streams and beaches of Southeastern Virginia and it is an index fossil for the Lower Yorktown Formation.