Maryland State Fossil Shell -
Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae (Wilson)

[photo, Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae (Wilson)] In 1994, the shell of the Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae (Wilson) (an extinct snail) was named the State fossil shell (Chapter 688, Acts of 1994; Code General Provisions Article, sec. 7-323).

The Ecphora inhabited East Coast tidal waters about 5 million years ago, towards the end of the Miocene epoch. During that period, an area of the Atlantic Ocean known as the Salisbury Embayment covered much of present-day Maryland. The Ocean was much higher and warmer then, which allowed for a greater variety of marine organisms to survive in the region, including crocodiles, dolphins, sharks, and whales. Specimens of the Ecphora, trapped in the sediment by receding waters, have been recovered from Calvert Cliffs, Calvert County, and Chancellor Point, St. Mary's County.

Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae (Wilson).
Photo by James P. Reger.

This russet-colored fossil shell derives its genus name from the Greek ekphora, meaning "protruding." The more recent species designation of gardnerae is in honor of paleontologist Julia Gardner of the U.S. Geological Survey. The subspecies name is a repetition of the species name, and the name "Wilson" denotes the person who originated the species name.

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