About 11,000 people cast votes in an online election held by the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the museum plans to ask the state legislature to vote to make the extinct animal the state’s official fossil.
Most states have official fossils. In the Atlantic, Ed Yong reports that the designations began in the 1960s, elevating animals like mastodons, plants like the dawn redwood, and aquatic creatures such as the megalodon — an extinct species of mackerel shark — to state symbols.
The giant beavers were aquatic, and they used their teeth to grind and cut through wood. It is unclear whether they encountered early humans during the Pleistocene, an epoch in which huge mammals like mammoths were common in what is now the United States.
Minnesota has attempted to install the giant beaver as its state fossil before. In 1988, elementary school students proposed the mammal. But although the bill received the support of some state senators, it fizzled and the state remained officially fossil-less for the next two decades.
D.C. elected its official fossil in 1998. The Capitalsaurus, as it is known, was discovered a century earlier by construction workers digging a sewer connection beneath First and F streets Southeast. The dinosaur remains the only specimen of its kind.
— Erin Blakemore