The Woolly Mammoth, Created on Day Six

You’ve probably heard by now about the idiotic controversy in South Carolina over a little girl’s suggestion that the state name the woolly mammoth the official state fossil. The creationists lost their minds over it and tried to block it, managing to get this bit of educational malpractice into the bill:

Whereas, giant mammoths used to roam South Carolina; and

Whereas, scientists have identified the fossils of about six hundred and fifty species of vertebrates in South Carolina to date; and

Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; and

Whereas, this discovery has been credited as the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 9, Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”

No, it wasn’t. It evolved millions of years ago via descent with modification. Not only is the state legislature lying about this, they’re also endorsing a particularly absurd religious belief (their own, of course).

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com holytape

    Section 1-1-712B. The Columbian Mammoth is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina, the dumbest state in the union, and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth, the official State Fossil of South Carolina, the dumbest state in the union.’

    FIFY

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    The kid can be forgiven, but there was not one adult in the General Assembly who knew these “teeth found in a swamp” weren’t fossils? A fossil by definition is petrified. These items are actual preserved mammoth teeth (says the guy with pieces of mammoth ivory on his desk.)

    I guess it’s unreasonable to think that science might apply because genesis. And these are the people who have convinced themselves they should be in charge.

    I need a beer.

  • matty1

    I thought the South Carolina Republican Party was the official state fossil.

  • Synfandel

    The rest of the developed world asks South Carolina to kindly take a break so we can catch our breath, relax our aching sides, and wipe away the tears of laughter.

  • Thorne

    I live in South Carolina. Moved here voluntarily. From New Jersey.

    Out of the latrine, into the cesspool.

  • cry4turtles

    South Carolina caught the stupid. They’re probably unaware that it’s treatable.

  • eric

    My guess is the rider will be largely ignored by the civil service (park employees, etc..), who will not refer to it with the caveat. I would also guess that the first time they actually do refer to it in a pamphlet as the “‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field,” there will be a federal lawsuit which SC will lose.

  • Johnny Vector

    I thought the creationism got removed following a prolonged squawk by the intelligent, educated section of the country.

    Also, I have a most awesome mammoth in my house! It was made by Carl Buell (aka Olduvai George), whose website and Facebook page are not currently available, so I’m sorry you can’t have one. I agree with Symbiartic, I want a Carl Buell coffee table book!

  • jaytheostrich

    I’m not sure there even WERE fields before humanity set them up, so how would the Mammoth be a ‘creature of the field’? I don’t think they were domesticated.. or farmed..

    And, why do states need a particular fossil marked in the legislation anyways? What makes one better than any other one found in the state, that it needs to be singled out?

  • caseloweraz

    Obviously, that resolution’s chief defect is that it’s not specific enough. Here’s an illustration of how it should read:

    The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field: the Ayrshire, Black Angus, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey cow, and Longhorn cows; the brahma bull; the Angora, Beetal, Chengde Polled, Chengdu Brown, Garganica, Girgentana, Rovet, Stiefelgeiss and Tauernsheck goats; the Acipayam, Algerian Arab, Beulah Speckled Face, Bluefaced Leicester, Navajo-Churro, and Rough Fell sheep; the Ba Xuyen, Dermantsi Pied, Krskopolji, Mangalitsa, Mulefoot, and Swedish Landrace pigs; the Apaloosa, Belgian, Clydesdale, Morgan, Palomino, and Percheron horses; the American Milking Devon ox; the Bactrian, Black, and Dromedary camels; and the South Carolina ass.’

  • caseloweraz

    Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; …

    Finally — a law with teeth in it.

  • cjcolucci

    Too small for a republic, too large for an insane asylum.

  • dmcclean

    Great work, #11. Bravo!

  • steve84

    So important that they had to mention it twice in the same sentence

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “I need a beer.”

    I think the appropriate dosage is 1 dL of Buffalo Trace, every two to four hours, as needed for facepalm pain. I am having some, azh I type thish……

    “I thought the South Carolina Republican Party was the official state fossil.”

    Your confusion is understandable, they’re the official state coprolite.

    “I thought the creationism got removed following a prolonged squawk by the intelligent, educated section of the country.”

    Yes, but only IN the intelligent, educated section of the country.

    They left out:

    Where assholes congregate…

  • Matt G

    Isn’t this the state which legislated not-global-warming? Did we really win the Civil War? Can we surrender retroactively?

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    they’re the official state coprolite

    They would not know a coprolite if it came out their butt.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ Kamaka : LOL. Of course if a coprolite ever did come out one of their butts it would actually take a *very* long time to be sure of that and know about it! ;-)

    (Technically too long for them or anyone else alive today – sorry if that overthinking spoils it.)

  • cottonnero

    Matt G #16: That was North Carolina.

  • dingojack

    Are the SC PoG going to change their symbol to a Columbian Mammoth now?

    Can one serve both god and mammoth?

    Enquiring minds need to know.

    Dingo

    ——–

    PS: Just a quibble Ed – Woolly Mammoths are Eurasian, Columbian Mammoths are North American (smaller and less hairy).

  • janeymack

    @dingojack #20–Woolly mammoths were also present in North America, although the Columbians seem to be more prevalent here. The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, which claims “the largest concentration of Mammoths in the world” has so far found remains of 61 mammoths; of those, 58 were Columbian Mammoths and 3 were Woolly Mammoths. (And if you really want to quibble, even the Columbians descend from a group that originated in Eurasia and wandered their way to N. America.)

    Anybody interested in Mammoths or paleontology would be interested in the Mammoth Site, btw. The central exhibit is the remains of a large sinkhole where the excavations are on-going. They do a nice tour, and then there is a museum you can browse through at your leisure. (I’m not affiliated with them, but just a satisfied customer.)

  • http://Reallyawakeguy.blogspot.com somnus

    So a little girl has kind of a cute idea that she suggests to the legislature. And said legislature responds by asking themselves a very important question: “How can we turn this into the stupidest thing in the history of ever, while pointlessly antagonizing people who don’t share our religion and simultaneously pissing in the Constitution?”

    And then they found an answer.

    The really galling thing is that, even if you are a creationist, there was *no reason* to do this. Adopting a state fossil doesn’t need to say *anything* about what you believe its origin to be. This is nothing but picking a fight. And then they’ll bitch about culture wars and persecution when the inevitable resistance starts up.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    @ Kamaka:

    “A fossil by definition is petrified.”

    Thanks for that. Now, can you explain the apparent ossification of the heads–not just thier skull but their brains as well–of the SC legislature’s GOP members?

  • peterh

    “South Carolina caught the stupid. They’re probably unaware that it’s treatable.”

    Ignorance can be corrected; stupid can’t be fixed.

  • psweet

    My understanding is that traces of organisms are designated fossils if they are over 10,000 years old, with petrification not a requirement.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @Kamaka :

    The kid can be forgiven, but there was not one adult in the General Assembly who knew these “teeth found in a swamp” weren’t fossils? A fossil by definition is petrified. These items are actual preserved mammoth teeth (says the guy with pieces of mammoth ivory on his desk.)

    Well, some of the mammoth teeth from some of the mammoth’s might not technically be fossils but there are plenty of properly fossilised mammoths too.

    Just wonder if the mammoths get recreated via DNA Jurassic park style or suchlike whether they’ll disqualify them from fossil status again?

    Awesome animals – saw a recent TV doco series Ice Age Giants on the Pleistocene megafauna presented by Professor Alice Roberts which was superb viewing.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    @ 25 psweet and @ 26 StevoR

    Some definitions are more arbitrary than others. “Teeth found in a swamp” is pertinent here, as lithification will not occur in that environment. I have some mammoth ivory, the majority of which is certainly more than 10,000 years old and it is just that, ivory. But I get your point.

  • jimnorth

    Working on the woolly mammoth site here in Iowa. Awesome find in a farmer’s field. Probably three organisms, so far. The big surprise to us was that these are Woolly and not Columbian or Jeffersonian Mammoth. Check out our blog on tumblr at wpumammothdig.

    We consider everything we find a fossil; they have tentatively been dated to older than 13,000 yrs bce. The teeth are magnificent, the tusks riveting, and the bones … boney. I currently have some of my students inspecting the bones and the surrounding material using our SEM.

    Everyone is invited to help clean and dig…

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    Well, I’d love to come and help but I’m at a loss in loess.


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