MILEY COLUMN: Fossil could link the state to its past | Opinion


The Indiana General Assembly recognizes a group that roamed a tract of land that approximately 11,000 years later became Indiana.

The mighty behemoths.

The creatures — well, their remains — could become Indiana’s state fossil under House Bill 1013, which is moving at a breakneck pace through the legislature.

All but five states have a state fossil.

Illinois has Tully’s water monster. Kentucky went with the seashells. However, Ohio, which strives to be a decisive leader in politics, wavered on the issue by choosing two: the trilobite as the state invertebrate and the 8-meter-long Dunkleosteus Terrell as the official fossil fish. .

It was in Ohio that the world’s most complete American behemoth – technically M. americanum – was discovered in 1989 while dredging a bog at the Burning Tree Golf Course. A life-size skeletal cast of what is called ‘The Burning Tree Mastodon’, with knife marks indicating it was hunted for food, is on display at the Hanover College Science Center in the far southeast of Indiana.

Stanley Totten, a retired geology professor at Hanover, has been the juggernaut’s biggest proponent. He suggests that the juggernaut can become a valuable learning subject in schools.

“Indiana is one of five states without a state fossil, so it’s time to fill that void,” Totten told the House Government and Regulatory Committee, adding, “Behemoths have been found in almost every county. of Indiana”.

Michigan is the only state with a mastodon as an official fossil. The juggernaut joined the painted turtle (official reptile) and Kalkaska sand (official soil) as the state symbol in 2002 following a lobbying effort by Ann Arbor students. Slauson Middle School students learned geology, wrote songs, created artwork, and issued press releases to support the cause.

Their reported mantra was, “Now the mastodon, hairy and colossal, should become our state fossil.”

Of course, there were Pleistocene naysayers in the Wolverines state, as a report on the legislation notes:

“While it is a valid civic exercise for students to promote and testify on behalf of legislation, many people feel that there are already more than enough – if not too many – symbols of state. must be a state fossil, then the mastodon is as good a candidate as any, and perhaps even better than the rest; however, it is unclear whether the state needs of an official fossil.

Does Indiana need an extinct beast the size of an elephant to join our official state icons such as the showy peony (state flower) and distinctive cardinal (state bird) ?

Yes, let’s take another status symbol. The study of the mastodon is a matter of respect for fossils, whether animal or human.


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