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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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Voting for a Fossil
30 November 2000 7:00 pm
Talk about election irregularities: In Barton County, Kansas, an extinct fish got 235 votes on 7 November, only 15 fewer than Ralph Nader. The vote was part of a campaign staged by Kansas fossil dealer Alan Detrich, who wants to make Xiphactinus, a large fish that roamed the seas of Kansas 85 million years ago, the state fossil.
Quite a few states have official dinosaurs or other official fossils--the earliest ones were petrified wood in North Dakota and the Nebraska mammoth, designated in 1967. But Kansas doesn't, and Detrich--best known for his ongoing attempts to peddle a Tyrannosaurus rex for $20 million--thinks getting one designated is going to be an uphill fight, given the strong opposition to evolutionary theory in the state.
That's why he has been agitating for the X-fish, as it's known, since last spring, and has enlisted local grade schoolers in the effort. To get the fossil bandwagon rolling, the campaign urged voters to write in the name of the fish on ballots where local politicians were running uncontested races. But when election officials complained that would drive up the cost of tabulations, Detrich called off his troops, in exchange for pledges of support from several candidates.
Detrich plans to keep up his campaign to get the state legislature to adopt the fossil. He's optimistic about getting more support for his cause, too. In the November election, for example, the creationist board of education was replaced by a more moderate one. Detrich hopes enthusiasm for fossils will reach a fever pitch when a cast of the famous T. rex named Sue, whose remains are now settled at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, will visit the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas, from February to April.