I had thought that Minnesota had a state fossil: it was the giant beaver, Castoroides ohioensis. But then I discovered that it wasn’t on the official list of Minnesota State Symbols, but was on the list of proposed symbols. So it never made it into law, although we do have a state photo (it’s awful) and a state muffin (blueberry).
I wonder if the same thing happened to the giant beaver that happened to South Carolina’s state fossil proposal. Olivia McConnell, an eight year old girl, had the bright idea to propose that the Woolly Mammoth ought to be the South Carolina state fossil, and she wrote a letter to the legislature suggesting it, and even giving good reasons for it.
1. One of the first discoveries of a vertebrae fossil in North America was on an S.C. plantation when slaves dug up wooly mammoth teeth from a swamp in 1725.
2. All but seven states have an official state fossil.
3. “Fossils tell us about our past.”
“Please work on this for me,” McConnell wrote to Ridgeway, signing her letter, “Your friend, Olivia.”
Nice idea. Good rationale. But then, along come the sanctimonious bible-floggers.
Sen. Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist and self-described born-again Christian who has compared President Obama with Osama bin Laden, voted to sustain a veto by Governor Nikki Haley of funding for a rape crisis center, and called climate change a “hoax,” proposed amending the bill to include three verses from the Book of Genesis detailing God’s creation of the Earth and its living inhabitants—including mammoths.
Bryant told The Daily Beast that the intent was never to hijack the bill.I think it’s a good idea to designate the mammoth as the state fossil, I don’t have a problem with that. I just felt like it’d be a good thing to acknowledge the creator of the fossils.
Bryant’s proposed amendment was originally ruled out of order by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell (no relation to Olivia) because it introduced a new subject. Bryant has since submitted a more on-topic amendment, describing the Columbian Mammothas created on the Sixth Day with the beasts of the field.
The bill is now on hold. Olivia has apparently been following the legislative process as it moves along, and now has first-hand experience with stupidity, and has learned a valuable lesson in cynicism. Jeez, I’m a cynical old guy, and I’m pissed off.
I hope Olivia can retain some enthusiasm for science, even if she has lost faith in politics.