Illinois State Museum

What does this mean? Check the Clues

invasive species
The European Starling, the dandelion, and the common carp were introduced into Illinois from Europe and Asia.
Dandelion photograph @ IDNR

Reconstructing the past is like assembling a huge jigsaw puzzle when many of the pieces are missing. To fill in what we don't know, our scientists are constantly searching for evidence of the events and processes that shaped Illinois - past and present. They look for clues in the natural world, in historical records, and by digging beneath the surface.

Our picture of Illinois' dynamic environment is far from complete, and we may never find some of the pieces. However, we make new discoveries every day. Each new puzzle piece fills a gap in the picture of our past, our present - and perhaps even our future.

What conclusions can you draw based on this evidence?

Dandelions, common carp, and starlings occur in Illinois today. However, scientists note that:

a. Fossils of these organisms have never been found in Illinois.
b. Archaeological and paleontological sites do not show any evidence of these species.
c. Written records do not mention them until the 1800s.

What Do the Clues Mean?

The clues mean that dandelions, carp, and starlings are not native to Illinois. They species were intentionally introduced by humans into North America from Europe or Asia. The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was native to Europe and was introduced into North America by very early immigrants. The Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) was native to Asia and was introduced into the United States in 1831. The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was native to Europe and Asia and was introduced into New York in 1890 or 1891.