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July 02, 2006

Supplemental Sunday Sermonette: State fossils

In honour of July 4th, I thought I'd take a moment to praise those states which have adopted official State fossils.

Unfortunately, as you can see below, only of American states have an official fossil:

create your own states with official fossils map
or check out these Google Hacks.

So, I think we've come up with the perfect wedge issue for 2006 in Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas--ballot initiatives to give these states their own official fossils. If they're going to rally their base with gay marriage, we've got to throw some red meat to the core atheist constituency.

Now, we just need to come up with a shortlist of official fossils. So, in order to do that, I'm holding an 4th of July "Fossils are Winners" Contest.

Write a blog post (or a comment) endorsing fossils for official-fossilless Sates. Explain why your favorite fossil species embodies the State spirit.

I'll announce the winners on July 4th.

Correction:PZ Myers of Pharyngula points out that, contrary to my earlier assertion, Minnesota does not have an official state fossil. There was a bill to make a giant beaver named after Ohio their state fossil, but for some reason the people didn't go for it. PZ suggests an alternative.

Clarification: Some people say that Hawaii is too young to have land fossils, but there's some disagreement on that score. If Hawaii can't have its own fossils, that's no reason not to consider adoption. Nominate a fossil that you think represents the spirit of Hawaii.


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» Minnesota and Texas have something in common from Pharyngula
Lindsay makes a factual error: Minnesota does not have a state fossil. We had a bill introduced almost 20 years ago to make Castoroides ohioensis, a 6-foot long, 250 pound giant beaver, our state fossil…but some people objected to the... [Read More]


The state fossil of Hawaii ought to be obvious: Don Ho.

We'd have to have a fossil from less than 10,000 years ago, because our Kansas science classes aren't allowed to go back any further than that.

Your map seems to be mistaken. Georgia has an official fossil, it just happens to be insanely stupid: the Shark tooth

My bad, I thought the light colored states were the ones with fossils.

Ours is still insanely stupid.

Nominate a better fossil for Georgia. This is dog whistle politics! We want to get the naturalists out to the polls in 2006 to vote. If it worked for the Republicans and gay marriage, it can work for Democrats and State fossils!

The official fossil of Kansas ought to be pikaia, the worm that preferred hiding in the mud and developing a central nervous system and skip the period's evolutionary race. Eventually its descendants became the third most successful phylum (ours), which is more than one can say for the probable future of the isolationist, science-hating mindset that Kansas typifies, but there are still striking similarities.

Georgia's state fossil, the "shark tooth", is intended to refer to Carcharodon megalodon, a truly butt-kicking 100 foot long prehistoric shark. Alas, it was, like other sharks, cartilaginous, so it had no proper skeleton to fossilize.

So, how about Xiphactinus audax, the giant "Bulldog Fish" of the Cretaceous? It's nearly as manly as the shark, and it has the U of Georgia mascot in its name.

Kansas apparently hasn't snatched this one up.

[[North Carolina: Jesse Helms. Well, someone had to say it.]] -- Chris Clarke

Editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, then with The Charlotte Observer, beat you to this by roughly 30 years ... but I guess that simply makes Helms the even more obvious choice. :-)

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