Vermont designated the beluga whale skeleton at the Perkins Geology Museum (University of Vermont) as the official state fossil in 1993. Vermont is the only state that designates a fossil symbol from a species that still exists. Today the beluga (or "white whale") is found only in the Arctic Ocean and adjoining seas, but the whale skeleton adopted as Vermont's state fossil (discovered near Charlotte, Vermont in 1849) lived about 12,500 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch, when part of the Atlantic extended into Vermont and New York.
Beluga whale at San Diego Sea World - photo © Brian Hammond on Flickr - noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works. See All State Animals - Mammals.
Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are white as adults They live in groups (called pods) of 2 to 25 individuals and sing so loudly to each other that they are sometimes called "sea canaries.". During migration, pods join to form larger groups of 200 to 10,000 whales. Extremely social, beluga whales hunt together, chase each other, (playfully or aggressively), and show affection by rubbing against each other.