Meet your State Symbols

Did you know our state bird is the cardinal? Or that the state drink is milk? How about the state insect – did you know it’s the western honey bee? And did you know the fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark is the official state fossil?

The North Carolina Fossil Club prepared an exhibit featuring the teeth of the megalodon shark and participated in the “Meet Your North Carolina State Symbols” event at the NC State Capitol on Saturday, April 27th from 10am to 2pm. Joy Herrington, Richard Chandler and Ramona Krailler prepared the exhibit which featured a very small (8mm across the root) posterior fetal megalodon tooth (with photographs) and a very large (6 inches on the slant) upper anterior adult megalodon tooth. The exhibit also featured megalodon teeth collected from the Miocene deposits of the phosphate mine outside of Aurora, North Carolina and general information about the scientific importance of those deposits. Younger visitors to the exhibit designed and created their own Shark Themed Greeting Cards or Bookmarks. They traced the outline of a 3-d printed megalodon shark tooth, colored it in and added shark-themed stamps.

According to NCpedia (, the teeth of the megalodon shark became North Carolina’s State Fossil on June 26, 2013, according to Session Law 2013-189 House Bill 830. The bill was signed by governor Pat McCrory following sponsorship by 4 state legislators. The idea for an official state fossil originated with an eighth-grade science project at the Newport Middle School in Newport, N.C. Science teacher Donna Jones proposed a competition in which students created displays for different fossils to become the official state fossil. In addition to the megalodon shark, students suggested sand dollars, starfish, coral, mosasaurs and sea urchins. The students voted on January 11, 2013 and selected the megalodon shark. Social studies teacher Gary Abell contacted Rep. Pat McElraft, who adopted the idea and added it to House Bill 830, which proposed several new state symbols.

Here is an excerpt from Session Law 2013-189, House Bill 830:
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…
§ 145-41. State fossil: The fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark is adopted as the official fossil of the State of North Carolina.