I Love Eurypterid

Let the State of New York tip its heraldic lid
And add to its symbols the Eurypterid
A crablike fossil, long extinct without bounty
Found in Herikimer, Onondaga, and Erie County.
Dr. Donald Fisher, our state paleontog
Lobbyist for beasts from the Silurian bog
Brings this scorpion-crab ancestor to light
Along with mastodon and trilobite
Having recently acquired a state beverage, milk
Why not toast this old native of Euryptidian ilk?
As old as the hills, as steady, as docile:
All hail the idea of a New York state fossil.

-- New York Times, 31-December-1981, "Chuckles, zones and bones: I (heart) Eurypterid"


This in response to an article from 28-December-1981, "Idea for the ages: New York State fossil", byline Harold Faber:

"New York, which has a state fish (the brook trout), a state mammal (the beaver), a state bird (the bluebird), a state gem (the garnet), a state tree (the sugar maple) and a state flower (the wild rose), now needs a state fossil, according to the state paleontologist."


Fortunately the legislature saw the wisdom of this proposal, and on 13-June-1984 (why so long a wait??) named Eurypterus remipes the official State fossil. From the NY Times report of 14-June "State-loving crab voted official fossil":

'The sponsor of the fossil bill, Assemblyman Gary Proud, a Democrat from Rochester, which before it was Rochester was home to Eurypterus, said the biggest problem in passing the measure was convincing collegues that his proposal was not a joke of any kind. "It serves mainly two purposes," said Donald W. Fisher, the former official state paleontologist and chief Eurypterus advocate. "It focuses attention on the fact that fossils are a natural resource and that we have a rich paleontological heritage in New York State that is often overlooked."

... Governor [Mario!] Cuomo said he would sign the measure and "welcome Eurypterus remipes as the oldest member of the family of New York."'


Another Monroe County legislator, William Steinfeldt, was the only sourpus (or creationist?) to vote against the measure, which passed the Senate 48-1.

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Last modified: Sat Aug 23 10:07:35 EDT 2014

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