From the South Carolina news site, The State:
South Carolina has 50 official state symbols — including a state heritage horse, a state migratory marine mammal and a state beverage — but it does not have a state fossil.
Eight-year-old Olivia McConnell wants to change that.
McConnell wants the state fossil of SC to be the Woolly Mammoth. I think you have to be eight to care about the state this-and-that, but it’s still cute. We like to tell kids that they can always write to the lawmakers if there’s something the feel strongly about, so that’s what she did.
“We can’t just say we need a sate fossil because I like fossils,” McConnell said. “That wouldn’t make sense.”
So Olivia gave her reasons:
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.”
It’s a little rough, but that’s still thinking above and beyond what I normally see in the letters to the editor column. To their credit, it looks like the legislators decided to run with it. A state representative and an senator pushed through a quick bill, in order to encourage kids like McConnell and teach a lesson about how the process works.
But then, politics happened. From the Daily Beast:
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.”
Well, it looks like the kids of South Carolina are getting that lesson in the legislative process after all.