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Minnesota Earth Symbols

Minnesota State MineralLester soil profile (left) and soybean fields under a dramatic summer sky, a reminder that the soil under our feet is closely connected to the sky, and not just through rain.

Minnesota’s earth symbols are limited to a state gemstone (Lake Superior agate) and soil (Lester).

The surface of Lester soils is described as crumbly as cake. If you dig down to the bottom, you’ll discover rocks and boulders left by Ice Age glaciers. Much of the corn and soybeans grown in southeastern Minnesota are grown on Lester soils.

Fossil ˆ

Minnesota State Fossil(Skull by Paul Cooper, CC BY-NC 2.0, link; Note: I modified the image, erasing the background.)

In 1988, Minnesota was the scene of a state fossil battle. It started with school children who wanted legislators to adopt the giant beaver, a prehistoric rodent as big as a black bear.

However, other candidates emerged, including the prehistoric bison, a trilobite, and a brachiopod (Rhynchotrema). In the end, nothing was adopted.

In fact, a bear-sized beaver doesn’t sound like a bad choice for the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If fossil fans make another attempt, perhaps they’ll back two candidates, with the giant beaver representing Minnesota’s ancient forests and the bison representing grasslands. Or the beaver could be the official Ice Age fossil, while a trilobite serves as an official symbol of the ancient Paleozoic Era.

There are many possibilities to explore.

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