Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ontario Hasn't a Single Dinosaur to its Name

Growing up, I had absolutely no understanding of the geological composite of the great province of Ontario. The Canadian Shield, mantle and solid rock that makes it a wondrous world of farmlands that recede into elementally furtive boreal forests, moraines, escarpments and eventually tundra meant nothing to me.

That there’s never been a dinosaur discovered in a province that’s so rich is so many ways, with fresh water, farmlands and minerals like gold, nickel, copper, zinc, silver and cobalt, was completely unknown to me.

Which meant digging a deep hole in my parents’ backyard when I was a kid, well into the water table, was a viable dinosaur hunting past time. Every big rock I came across, protected by the bothersome deciduous roots that interfered with my descent, struck a hope that I’d found a fossil.

(I’m fairly certain I broke at least one shovel levering hunks of wet clay from the bottom of that hole – sorry dad).

I pulled a bunch of fist-sized reddish hunks of rock out of the ground, and might have even hung on to some of them, though they’d all be gone by now.

In any case, many years later, I can only admit that it was all a fantasy, no matter how seriously I took it. Ontario just isn’t constructed in a way that will reveal any dinosaur bones. I’ve come to terms with that … finally.

It’s something that Ontario just doesn’t get – BUT other places have embraced their dinosaurs by naming them the official fossils of their states (an in a very few instances, their official provincial fossil as well).

What are some of the coolest state fossils out there?

I am ranking them from worst to best, beginning with No. 8:

[8]Capitalsaurus (1998)

I have this dinosaur ranked as the worst state fossil, and leave it to D.C. to celebrate and commemorate the hell out of the most insubstantial, unimportant, banal discovery in paleontology. Seriously, nobody puts lipstick on a pig like Washington.

In 2001, “capitalsaurus” received its own official day, January 28. It has its own theme song “Them Dino Bones” and there is a block between First and F, Southeast, which has been renamed “Capitalsaurus Court.”

If only all states could honour their official fossils with this much pomp and vigour. While there’s an A for effort, this is the most stupid dinosaur to name as the District of Columbia’s official fossil. Why’d they even bother?!

What made this a good idea? I can’t start off my feelings on this official state fossil in any better way than Michael Gaynor from the Washingtonian put it:

“Unfortunately this specimen was used to try and name a new genus, ‘Capitalsaurus,’ in honor of the nation’s capital,” the Smithsonian website says. “This is not scientifically justified, and the name ‘Capitalsaurus’ has no validity.”

Working with students from two local elementary schools, he [local paleontologist Peter Kranz] presented his findings to the council. It was there that Capitol Hill’s own (maybe) dinosaur benefited from the once-thought-extinct act of political compromise, and the Official Dinosaur Designation Act of 1998 was enacted.
“Capitalsaurus” is not a recognized fossil, species or anything – it’s a completely improvised representation of what could be cool about fossils, and then hyped up with pageantry and children holding hands while swaying back and forth in a circle.

It’s terrible. Easily the very worst official state dinosaur, and some of the animals on this list AREN’T even dinosaurs. That’s how bad “capitalsaurus” is.


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