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A mammoth victory in South Carolina

The Columbian mammoth is now the official state fossil of South Carolina after Governor Nikki Haley signed House Bill 4482 into law on May 16, 2014 — and there was no mention of the Sixth Day of Creation.

As NCSE previously reported, the bill was introduced at the behest of eight-year-old paleontology enthusiast Olivia McConnell, who proposed that the mammoth would be appropriate; among the first vertebrate fossils found in North America were mammoth teeth excavated in South Carolina in 1725. Amended to specify that the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) would be the official state fossil, HB 4482 passed the House in February 2014 and was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. When the bill reached the Senate floor in late March 2014, however, controversy ensued.

In the Senate, Kevin L. Bryant (R-District 3) sought to amend the bill to designate Genesis 1:24-25, which describes the sixth day of creation, as the official state passage from an ancient historical text. When his amendment was ruled out of order, Bryant sought to amend the bill to add "as created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field" after each instance of "mammoth." As amended, the bill was passed by the Senate in April 2014. The House rejected the amendment, however, and a conference committee subsequently deleted the language about the Sixth Day of Creation.

Meanwhile, South Carolina's state science standards are still in limbo. As NCSE previously reported, the Educational Oversight Committee is proposing to amend the new state science standards to call for students to "[c]onstruct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian Natural selection." The suggestion was owing to Senator Mike Fair (R-District 6), a member of the committee, who spearheaded a number of previous antievolution efforts in South Carolina, both in the Senate and on the EOC.

The proposal now proceeds to the state board of education, which already voted in January 2014 to adopt the new standards without such a requirement, rejecting two different proposals that would have compromised the treatment of evolution in the process.