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July 04, 2006

Fossils are Winners: Official Fossil Endorsements

The results are in. We now have a full slate of official fossils for states that currently lack them. The next step is to craft ballot initiatives, get them on the ballot, and watch the Democratic votes roll in 2006!

1. Texas, the humble trilobite. First nominated by John Lucid and seconded by many others. The trilobite is not as progressive as the first runner-up Quetzalcoatlus, but I think he's more electable. Norbizness suggested a fern, but ferns don't do well on TV. Try putting a fern on your TV, see how well it does.

2. Hawaii, the giant flightless turtle-billed dabbling duck, Moa-nalo, nominated by rewolfrats. First runner-up, Don Ho.

3. Kansas, fossil fish Xiphactinus audax. The ballot initiative will include language required the state to accept a Kansans gift of an audax fossil, valued at $10 million.

4. Minnesota, the giant nautiloid, Endoceras proteiforme, suggested by PZ Myers because Castoroides ohioensis the giant beaver named after somebody else's state wasn't good enough for Minnesota.

5. New Hampshire, instant runoff voting. Readers, choose from among the 52 fossils ever found in New Hampshire.

6. South Carolina, the giant sloth. Look at the claws on this mofo. People who don't even believe in evolution will vote for the sloth, just because they want to be part of the brand. Suggested by coturnix.

7. North Carolina, archaeopteryx. North Carolinians will go to the polls to take archaeopteryx away from South Carolina. Also due to coturnix.

8. Rhode Island, more instant runoff voting. Browse the 144 fossils ever found in Rhode Island, and cast your ballots.

9. Arkansas, Mimulus perversus. I don't know what it is, but it sounds dirty. Perfect.

Winners get the opportunity to collect signatures for their favorite fossil at a precinct near them!

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Comments

Okay, I'll do it, but I demand holiday pay:

For New Hampshire I nominate the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Just like the T. Rex, the New Hampshire primary gets WAY more attention than it deserves.

For Indiana I nominate petrified wood. Trees can live a very long time, so to me petrified wood is a metaphor for eternity. For an eternity Indiana has been a Republican state. Indiana has not gone Democratic for the Presidency since LBJ. The next time they back a Democrat we will be in another Carboniferous Period, which thanks to Bush will be here in 6 years.

Oops, that last comment was from me, John Lucid.

For NH I suggest Neidium ampliatum. It's a fossil diatom found in the some ponds -- a good marker for acidification it get's a lot more abundant in the last 50 years of sediment.

For Indiana: Richard Lugar?

Well, for a *serious* suggestion for indiana, it would have to be a crinoid (the stems are very common in indiana, and often called "indian beads")

But which species? There are so many....

Not so serious: not Lugar. To be the indiana state fossil one has a lot of competition, and Lugar isn't quite at the top of the heap.

My vote goes to: Emmitt Tyrrell Jr. (founder of American Spectator, in Bloomington Indiana). Well not all of him, just his brain.

Texas, the humble trilobite.

Using "humble" and "Texas" in the same sentence should have been enough to give you pause on this choice.

Texans will NOT turn out to vote for a glorified roly-poly bug that's already been picked by three other states.

Quetzalocoatlus northropi demands a recount!

John, Lindsay,

Any idea what species of trilobite that is? I'm thinking it's an Olenoides, but it's a guess because the hat obscures the glabella (the lump on the head and some of the sutures on the head.

Psst, don't tell anyone, but the graphic. minus the "fossilized" hat (which was originally a copper ashtray), came from here. Here's their description of the type of Olenoides depicted in the drawing:

Charles Doolittle Walcott nicknamed this fossil the "lace crab" and it is the most abundant of the Burgess Shale animals. The unique head shield had two pairs of large spines curving back over the body. Two pairs of antennae project forward and the body consists of a large number of segments bearing identically shaped limbs.

Any guesses?

Quetzalocoatlus northropi demands a recount!

In the face of its unfortunate loss to the trilobite, I understand that Quetzalocoatlus intends to continue its race as a "Petitioning archosaur".

Creationists who vote for the sloth will claim, in exit polling, that they thought they were voting for their favorite deadly sin.

OK, I'll withdraw Lugar in favor of Grumpy's crinoid, although I'd take issue with his Emmitt Tyrrell Jr. nomination based on American Spectator's migration to DC in the Ray-gun years.

There...consensus...do we make the final list?

Lindsay,

Thank you! I thought olenoides when I first saw it, but was not quite sure. The description you quote, however, is for the fossil above. the "lace crab" is marella splendens. The description for olenoides is:

Olenoides is a trilobite with a hard shell, like a crab. A hunter and a scavenger, the Olenoides' thin limbs suggests that this was not a swimmer. The fossilized tracks this trilobite left in bottom sediment shows that it crawled along the bottom and dug in pursuit of its prey.

The problem with olenoides as a state fossil for Texas is that it's a Canadian fossil. There are trilobites in Texas, most commonly Phacops but also a species that I think much more appropriate to the state, Dicranurus. Dicranurus is truly the "urban cowboy" of trilobites!

The Democrats pick fossils to run for office, while the Republicans pick candidates who don't believe in fossils at all, since the earth isn't old enough to produce them. That would make for some pretty interesting election debates.

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