Earlier this year, eight-year-old Olivia McConnell wrote to her state representatives a proposal suggesting South Carolina must be given a state fossil. Since the third grade student knew she would have to offer legitimate reasons for requesting the same, she came up with three:
- The first vertebrate fossil in North America was excavated at a plantation in South Carolina where slaves found teeth of a wooly mammoth in 1725.
- All states except seven have an official state fossil.
- Fossils are a great source to learn about our past
Her letter was addressed to state representative Robert Ridgeway and Senator Kevin Johnson, both Democrats, asking them to initiate a bill that will officially mark the woolly mammoth as South Carolina’s state fossil.
“We can’t just say we need a state fossil because I like fossils… That wouldn’t make sense,” said McConnell. She ended the letter saying, “Please work on this for me… Your friend, Olivia.”
In response to McConnell’s letter, Ridgeway said, “Why not? It can’t hurt anything… But the benefit to this is to the children and young people of South Carolina, letting them realize that they do have a say-so in what happens in South Carolina and, No. 2, it gives them experience and information about the governmental process and legislative process in South Carolina.”
Both Ridgeway and Johnson filed bills to make the woolly mammoth South Carolina’s official state fossil. According to their bill, the 1976 code on state emblems would be amended so the Columbian Mammoth could be included in it as well.
“It makes me feel really good… It’s exciting,” said McConnell after hearing that the lawmakers are taking her request seriously.
Despite the bill receiving overwhelming support in the House, Republican Senator Mike Fair seemed displeased with it for “religious reasons.”
Fair, who shot to limelight after comparing the president to Osama Bin Laden, blocking funding for a rape crisis center, calling climate change a hoax and blocking evolution from the state’s science standards, said, “I don’t have a problem with teaching theories. I don’t think it should be taught as fact.”
In addition, fellow Republican Kevin Bryant proposed an amendment to the same bill to include a passage from Genesis that will explain life’s Biblical creation.
“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,” said Bryant.
Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell blocked the proposed amendment because it aimed at introducing a new subject. He amended the code to suggest the Columbian Mammoth was “created on the Sixth Day with the beasts of the field.” However, the bill has since been blocked as all members of the House have failed to agree upon its inclusion.
Photo Credit: Flying Puffin