Fossil Shark Teeth to Become North Carolina State Symbol

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
14. May 2013

On May 6th, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted unanimously to add the teeth of a legendary extinct shark species to the list of official state symbols.

The related House Bill 830 is entitled as ‘An Act to Adopt an Official State Fossil, Frog, Salamander, Marsupial, Folk Art and Art Medium’.

If approved by Senate, it will adopt the fossilized teeth of the Megalodon shark (Carcharocles megalodon) as the official fossil of North Carolina in the Southeastern United States.

The full text of the bill can be found below.

The Megalodon is known as the largest shark that ever lived. This top predator occupied the world’s oceans 17 to 2 million years ago. Its name is derived from the ancient Greek words ‘megas’ ( = great, large, mighty ) and ‘odous’   (= tooth).

The Carolinas (South and North Carolina states) are renowned as one of the best locations in North America to find fossilized Megalodon teeth.


Committee Substitute Favorable 5/1/13

April 11, 2013



Whereas, some of North Carolina’s official State symbols have been suggested by
the State’s school children after they have had history, science, social studies, or geography
lessons related to North Carolina; and

Whereas, this year some of the suggestions range from the adoption of an official
fossil to an official frog; and

Whereas, the State of North Carolina has a number of unique official symbols but
does not have an official fossil, frog, salamander, marsupial, folk art, or art medium; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark is an extinct shark species that lived over 1.5 million
years ago; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark may have reached over 40 feet in length and
weighed up to 100 tons; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark had serrated, heart-shaped teeth that may have
grown to over seven inches in length; and

Whereas, fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark have been found in North Carolina
and throughout the world; and

Whereas, North Carolina and the Southeast region of the United States lead the
world in amphibian diversity; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog can be found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain
regions of North Carolina; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog has been considered one of the most striking and
beautiful frogs in the Southeast region of the United States; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog by name reflects one of North Carolina’s
signature trees and ecosystems that have been a vital part of the State’s economic, cultural, and
natural history since colonial times; and

Whereas, North Carolina also leads the nation and world in salamander diversity,
most notably in our Appalachian Mountains; and

Whereas, the marbled salamander is found throughout the State and is unique in that
it is a charismatic, striking, chunky-bodied, fossorial amphibian, of which no two are exactly
alike in color pattern; and

Whereas, according the North Carolina Wildlife Commission’s 2005 North Carolina
Wildlife Action Plan, the pine barrens tree frog and the marbled salamander have been
identified as priority species for population monitoring and conservation in North Carolina; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is native to North Carolina and is the only marsupial
found in North America; the female carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are
capable of living independently, similar to a kangaroo; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is one of the oldest and most primitive species of
mammal found in North America; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is about the size of a large house cat with a
triangular head; a long pointed nose; dark eyes; a long, scaly, prehensile tail; and short, black,
leathery ears; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is nocturnal and lives in a wide variety of habitats,
including deciduous forests, open woods, and farmland but prefers wet areas such as marshes,
swamps, and streams; and

Whereas, at age 65, Vollis Simpson, a self-taught folk artist, began making giant
windmills known as “whirligigs” at his home in Wilson, North Carolina; and

Whereas, Mr. Simpson’s whirligigs have been exhibited at the North Carolina
Museum of Art in Raleigh, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Visionary Art
Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and at other locations, including New York, California,
Canada, and England; and

Whereas, Mr. Simpson and details of his artwork have been featured in many
national magazines and in several books; and

Whereas, the City of Wilson is developing the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park to
display a large collection of these whirligigs in historic downtown, which will be a
one-of-a-kind destination for visitors; and

Whereas, North Carolina’s clay-rich soil has contributed to the State’s pottery
heritage; and

Whereas, the use of clay has grown from the State’s early Native Americans making
mostly utilitarian wares and European settlers continuing the traditions of their ancestors to
today’s potters designing pottery with utilitarian and aesthetic elements; and

Whereas, the pottery tradition continues to thrive in North Carolina, especially in
the Seagrove area, which includes parts of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph
Counties; and

Whereas, clay continues to be an important art medium contributing to the State’s
cultural, social, and economic prosperity; Now, therefore,

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding the
following new sections to read:

Ҥ 145-41. State fossil.

The fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark is adopted as the official fossil of the State of
North Carolina.

Ҥ 145-42. State frog.

The pine barrens tree frog (Hyla andersonii) is adopted as the official frog of the State of
North Carolina.

Ҥ 145-43. State salamander.

The marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) is adopted as the official salamander of the
State of North Carolina.

Ҥ 145-44. State marsupial.

The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is adopted as the official marsupial of the
State of North Carolina.

Ҥ 145-45. State folk art.

The whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson are adopted as the official folk art of the State of
North Carolina.

Ҥ 145-46. State art medium.

Clay is adopted as the official art medium of the State of North Carolina.”

SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.



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