By Harriet and McLeod
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - An 8-year-old South Carolina girl's dream of having the woolly mammoth become the official state fossil has been put on hold while lawmakers debate an amendment that gives God credit for creation of the prehistoric animal.
A bill that recently passed the state House to designate the Columbian Mammoth as the state fossil stalled in the Senate after Republican Senator Kevin Bryant added two verses from the book of Genesis.
That amendment was ruled out of order but senators this week will debate a new amendment that says the mammoth was "created on the sixth day along with the beasts of the field," Bryant said on Monday.
"I just had a notion that we ought to consider acknowledging the creator as we acknowledge one of his creations," Bryant said.
The original measure followed a letter to elected officials by Olivia McConnell, an-8-year-old from New Zion, South Carolina.
In it, she pointed out that there is no state fossil, said Democratic Representative Robert Ridgeway, who received the letter and sponsored the measure.
McConnell suggested the elephant-like mammoth because an early find of its remains took place in 1725 on a South Carolina plantation where slaves dug up a tooth, Ridgeway said.
The woolly mammoth was a huge, shaggy, tusked mammal that roamed northern Europe, Siberia and North American tens of thousands of years ago and became extinct about 4,000 years ago.
Bryant said he does not intend to hold up the mammoth's official designation but would like a vote on his amendment and sees no legal problems with it.
Reaction from some South Carolina residents has been "nasty," he said.
"Please stop making our state look like backwards hillbillies who believe in fairy tales," Alex Davis commented on Bryant's website. "Keep your religious views out of the government."
Ridgeway said he was surprised at the controversy.
"I was just trying to support a young child who is interested in science," he said. "We should support children in any endeavor that they seem interested in. That's one thing the state should be behind."
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker)