Minnesota does not have a state fossil.
Oh, I know what you’re gonna say: “What about Garrison Keillor?”
But seriously, Minnesota is one of only five states without a state fossil. (The others are Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Indiana.)
The Science Museum of Minnesota is trying to change that, and to nudge the process along, they’ve picked out nine potential state fossils and they’re inviting us to vote for our favorites.
Look, I’ll be honest: I don’t love ’em all. So to prevent you (or your child) from making a terrible mistake and saddling us with a third-rate state fossil forever, I’ve ranked all the choices, from absolutely unacceptable to the objectively best option.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on fossils, just an enthusiast. OK, I honestly haven’t thought about fossils much since I was six. But I know what I’m doing here.
Pros: Judging by the artist’s rendering, I would not mess with this squid-looking bottom-feeder.
Cons: The fossil itself just kinda looks like a rock. (Yes, I know that’s what fossils are, but there are rocks and there are rocks.) Am I calling this invaluable record of prehistoric life boring? Yes. Yes I am. Fuck Endoceras.
8. Stromatolite (Mary Ellen Jasper)
Pros: See what I mean? This is also just a rock, but it’s got some noteworthy topography, shaped by a bunch of photosynthesizing bacteria.
Cons: Really though, it still just looks like a rock.
7. Squalicorax (Crow Shark)
Pros: Regular old shark teeth are badass. Teeth from sharks that chomped on dinosaurs are in another category altogether.
Cons: There are a whole lot of shark teeth floating around out there.
6. Homotherium Serum (Scimitar-Toothed Cat)
Pros: Scimitars are cooler than sabers. They just are.
Cons: Still just a tooth.
5. Mammuthus Columbi (Columbian Mammoth)
Pros: Aside from dinosaurs themselves, nothing says “fossil” like a mammoth tusk.
Cons: Already the state fossil for Alaska, Nebraska, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington. Unacceptable.
4. Dikelocephalus Minnesotensis (Trilobite)
Pros: Has “Minnesota” in its name.
Cons: We come now to the eternal question: Are trilobites “classic” or “basic”? At the risk of betraying my childhood, I lean toward the latter option. You seen one trilobite, you seen ’em all. Also, it’s in the Smithsonian, which is not in Minnesota.
3. Castorioides Ohioensis (Giant Beaver)
Pros: A sentimental favorite. Partisans for this bear-sized beaver tried and failed to get it recognized as the state fossil in 1988, but the legislature balked.
Cons: I’m trying to visualize how these three fossilized bits work together. I don’t know, maybe it’s just a lack of imagination on my part. Too abstract.
2. Bison Antiquus
Pros: Looks just like it says. You see the fossil and you think, yep, that’s a bison.
Cons: Just not old enough. This bison was roaming around till almost 6,000 years ago. That’s like yesterday in fossil ages.
1. Terminonaris Robusta (Large Long-Snouted Crocodile-Relative)
Pros: Oh hell yeah.
Cons: I defy you to name a single con about a giant croc that ate sharks. There is no other choice.