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Oregon State Fossil

Metasequoia fossil from Middle Eocene Oregon, USA. Photo by California academy of sciences geology / Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution/no derivative works).

Official State Fossil of Oregon

Oregon designated Metasequoia, or dawn redwood, as the official state fossil in 2005. All State Fossils - All State Trees

Metasequoia flourished in North America in the Miocene age (5 to 25 million years ago) and left a fossil record embedded in rocks across the Oregon landscape.

Metasequoia (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) was considered long extinct until paleontologists discovered living 100-foot Metasequoia trees in a remote area of China in 1944. Seeds were collected and brought back to the United States for propagation, and seedling trees were distributed to various universities and arboretums worldwide for growth trials. Though critically endangered, living Metasequoia trees can be found today.

This ancient redwood is a fast growing tree in the conifer family. Metasequoia has bark and foliage that resemble the California redwood, but it is actually more like the bald cypress (the state tree of Louisiana) because it's deciduous, will thrive in standing water, and older specimens form wide buttresses on the lower trunk.