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12 Strange New Mexico State Symbols

It's nice to know that no matter how bad things get, or how poorly the government appears to function, New Mexico's legislature is always able to come together and agree on a new, official state thing. You know, a state bird, a state seal, a state anthem.

It's not unusual for states to have an official tree or an official flower; most states even have an official animal. But New Mexico is especially liberal at handing out official state designations.

Official State Aircraft

New Mexico's official state aircraft is the hot-air balloon. The designation is a nod to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and the hundreds of balloonists and thousands of spectators it draws every year.

Official State Tie

New Mexico has official neckwear (hello, bolo!).

New Mexico passed a non-binding measure to designate the bolo as the state's official tie in 1987.

Official State Necklace

The Native American squash blossom necklace is designated as New Mexico's official state necklace. The necklace features silver beads called squash blossoms with turquoise or other gem stones.

Official State Gemstone

Turquoise became New Mexico's official gemstone in 1967. Mined by American Indians for centuries and used for ornaments, turquoise is a phosphate of aluminum that gains its blue color from copper and its green from iron.

Official State Fossil

New Mexico’s official fossil is the Coelophysis, a 3-foot-tall, 10-foot-long meat-eating dinosaur. A large number of Coelophysis fossils have been found at the Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico.

Official State Amphibian, Reptile, Insect, Butterfly

New Mexico's official amphibian is the spadefoot toad. They spend most of their lives buried in the ground and come out after it rains to eat bugs and breed (loudly).

The official state reptile is the whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus), the official state insect is the tarantula hawk wasp, and the official state butterfly is the Sandia Hairstreak.

Official State Guitar

A custom guitar by Albuquerque's Pimentel and Sons is New Mexico's official guitar. The handcrafted guitar — known as the "New Mexico Sunrise" — features inlaid Zia sun symbols.

Official Cowboy State Song

New Mexico already had three official state songs when it took on a fourth. There's an English state song ("O Fair New Mexico," 1917), a Spanish state song ("Asi Es Nuevo México," 1971), a bilingual state song ("New Mexico-Mi Lindo Nuevo México," 1995), and a cowboy state song.

New Mexico is the first state to adopt an official cowboy song: "Under the New Mexico Skies," by Syd Masters of Edgewood (2009).

Official State Vegetable/s

In 1965, New Mexico Legislature couldn't decide on an official state vegetable, so they chose two. The inseparable frijoles (pinto beans) and chile pepper — probably the single most consistent ingredient in New Mexican food.

That's right, one of New Mexico's official state vegetables is actually a fruit.

Official State Question

This leads to New Mexico's official state question, "Red or green?" (New Mexico is the only state with an official state question.)

Official State Answer

Not to let an official state question go unanswered, the New Mexico Legislature adopted an official state answer: "Christmas."

Official State Cookie

New Mexico was the first state to have an official state cookie (bizcochitos).

The battle over the cookie wasn't so much about adopting it as it was how to spell it. Several lawmakers got on the House floor to press for the "s" or campaign for the "z."

Eventually the Senate decided on "bizcochito." Crisis averted.