Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What's Your Fossil? 50 State Fossils: by Yinan Wang

Maybe you know that Wisconsin is nicknamed the Badger State, Louisiana is the Pelican State, and California is the Golden State. But did you know they are also the Calymene Trilobite State, the Petrified Palm State, and the Saber-Toothed Tiger State?

Most states also have a state fossil, named for a fossil plant or animal found within their borders. Alaska calls itself the Woolly Mammoth State (of course it does!), and Colorado claims the Stegosaurus. Some states far away from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have state marine fossils named for their ancient inland sea denizens: Kansas is the Tylosaurus State, that mostly desert state, Nevada, is the Ichthyosaur State, and Missouri owns the name Crinoid Sea Lily as its state fossil. Several seaside states claim ocean-dwelling fossils for their states as well: North Carolina is the Megladon Shark Tooth State, Alabama is the Basilosauarus State and has a fossilized skeleton of the early whale hanging over the great hall in their Museum of Natural History. Several states claim some kind of dinosaur: Utah is the Allosaurus State, and South Dakota is the Triceratops State.

Young fossil hunters and geographical trivia fanciers will find Yinan Wang's The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists (Schiffer Publishing, 2018) full of fascinating fossils. But this lively illustrated handbook is more than a gee-whiz look at geographical lore for the fifty states.

Scientist Wang explains what fossils are and the different processes (premineralization, mineral replacement, carbonization and original remains preserved in tar or amber) by which they are formed and also offers a run-through of the terminology of time (eons, eras, and epochs) and taxonomy (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) as background information for middle readers in understanding the paleontology of the United States.. There is a useful appendix--Glossary, Places to See Fossils, bibliography (Further Reading), and Index, including states and scientific terms. With color photographs and illustrative drawings by Jane Levy, this one is great for student doing science and geography research projects and browsers as well, and belongs in libraries serving elementary and middle school students.

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