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article imageEight-year old takes on S. Carolina lawmakers over mammoth teeth

By Karen Graham     Apr 23, 2014 in Politics
Olivia McConnell, an eight-year old girl from New Zion, South Carolina, loves science, and is often seen in the playground, digging in the sand during recess, looking for, and finding shark teeth.
Olivia's love of fossils led her to discover that South Carolina does not have a state fossil. Because of her passionate interest in prehistoric finds, she knew that one of the very first fossil finds in North America took place in South Carolina with the discovery of some woolly mammoth teeth in the early 1700s.
The young lady promptly wrote a letter to Governor Nikki Haley and other state lawmakers to lay out her case. "I wanted it to be the state fossil because I didn't want that history to be lost, and our state to not get credit for it. If something's wrong I've got to help out. It's just the right thing to do. That's what I'm all about," said Olivia.
Little did Olivia know that her request would not be a slam-dunk, but instead would turn into a prolonged debate on creationism and politics. Her senator, Kevin Johnson, told CBS News yesterday that he thought the bill honoring the woolly mammoth as the state fossil "would just fly through the House and through the Senate." But the bill has been hanging around the House since January because some lawmakers with creationism beliefs object to it on religious grounds.
The original bill read simply, "The woolly mammoth is designated as the official state fossil of South Carolina." This bill would have been enough to satisfy most people, but creation-story senators amended it. The amended bill was shot down on April 9. It read as follows: "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."
Olivia is not giving up on her quest to make the mammoth the state fossil. She and her parents all read and believe in the Bible, but Olivia and her family don't want religion attached to the bill. Olivia says that she will be back next year. "Maybe it might not be until I'm 23 or 40," Olivia told CBS News. "If it doesn't pass this year, I'm going to be back next year."
In 1725, African slaves digging in a swamp on a plantation called Stono in South Carolina, discovered some mammoth teeth, which were recognized as belonging to an elephant-like creature. The find was considered the first scientifically accurate identification of vertebrate fossils in North America. Mark Catesby, an English botanist visiting Stono at the time, having seen elephant molars on display in London, agreed the findings of the Africans were molars from an elephant-like creature.
More about South carolina, Mammoth bone, state fossil, Creationism, sixth day
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