ST PAUL, Minn. — With two months left until the mid-term elections, there's another effort to gauge the will of the people at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
"Right here in the lobby we have a display of our candidates for the state fossil for Minnesota," Science Museum's PR Specialist Kailyn Robinson said.
Minnesota is one of just seven states without a designated state fossil. So Paleontology Chair Dr. Alex Hastings thought he should change that.
"I picked out eight candidates to start us off with, we had a little write-in phase, the beaver was the strong stand out from the write in so we added, onto nine," Hastings said. "So these are a variety of different animals from different parts of the state as well as representing different parts of geologic time going back into the fossil record."
The candidate Stromatolite, also known as the Mary Ellen Jasper, represents a time far, far away. As far away as almost two billion years ago.
The young whipper-snapper of a fossil of Bison Antiquus is about 4,270 years old.
Minnesota has a state bird, a state flower, and even a state muffin (blueberry). So why is it that we still don't have a state fossil?
"A lot of these state fossils just get a passionate person behind it," Hastings said. "I think that's just me wanting a state fossil for Minnesota here, the timing has finally come around for hopefully here. There was an attempt in '88 to make the giant beaver the state fossil, it did fizzle it didn't go all the way through the voting process."
One of the candidates, the giant beaver (Castoroides Ohioensis) was estimated to have weighed over 200 pounds and was the size of a small black bear. The giant beaver was the crowd favorite back in 1988, despite the fact that it had the word 'Ohio' in its scientific name. Oddly enough, more than three decades later, it stands in the lead again.
"All of this is just trying to capture what people want for Minnesota so I have no problems with the beaver," Hastings said. "I'm a little worried about the Ohio thing, but it's also a very, very cool animal so a giant beaver wouldn't be a bad way to go either."
And what exactly makes a fossil worthy of being a state fossil?
"To be a state fossil it really just needs to be found in the state and be found as a fossil so it can't be like a modern thing," Hastings said. "And honestly anything that people have a strong connection to is a great symbol. So we have the loon as the state bird, that's a great representation for Minnesota. People love that bird so it should be something are passionate about and that's what I like about the system we have here for a vote to capture that enthusiasm."
"Having a state fossil is a really fun kind of point of pride and it's something that hopefully brings people together," Robinson added. "That's the biggest thing, so many things we argue about, but a sate symbol is something that people can look at with pride and it comes from where we all live."
You can vote for the state fossil here. Voting closes on Sept. 30, and the winner will be announced on Oct. 13.