Texas (/ˈtɛksəs/, also locally /ˈtɛksɪz/; Spanish: Texas, Tejas[a]) is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by both area (after Alaska) and population (after California). Texas shares borders with the states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and southwest; and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.
Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh-largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are, respectively, the fourth- and fifth-largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso.
Texas is nicknamed the “Lone Star State” for its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal. The origin of Texas’s name is from the Caddo word táyshaʼ meaning ‘friends’.
Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U.S. Southern and the Southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than ten percent of Texas’s land area is desert. Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.
The term “six flags over Texas” refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory.[note 1] Spain was the first European country to claim and control the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas joined the union as the 28th state.
The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.
World War II
Historically, four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil. Before and after the U.S. Civil War, the cattle industry—which Texas came to dominate—was a major economic driver for the state, and created the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century, cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative.
It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry during the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it has the second most Fortune 500 company headquarters (54) in the United States.
With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including tourism, agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U.S. in state export revenue since 2002, and has the second-highest gross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would have the 10th-largest economy in the world.
Armadillos and Allies
This order seems to have originated in South America and only recently to have invaded North America. Its members, the armadillos, are highly specialized relative to their armored appearance and feeding habits. For example, the bony carapace is unique among mammals.
The Dasypodidae comprises eight genera and 21 species, and most are restricted to tropical regions of Central and South America. Only one species, the nine-banded armadillo, ranges north to the United States, and because of its uniqueness it has been designated the official state small mammal of Texas. Armadillos are characterized by their bony carapace, which is a series of plates interspersed with more flexible skin that allows the animals to move about in normal mammalian fashion.
The species of this family range in size from 125 mm to almost 1 m. Most armadillos have small ears and relatively long snouts with small peg-like teeth and a protrusible tongue. All members of this family are terrestrial and usually solitary in nature. They feed primarily on insects, invertebrates, and some plant material.
Official State Small Mammal of Texas
Texas designated the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) as the official state small mammal in 1995 (Texas also recognizes an official large mammal and a flying mammal symbol). All State Mammals
A distant cousin of the sloth and the anteater, the nine-banded armadillo is the only species that occurs in North America. A bony, scaled shell protects the armadillo from predators. Originally native to South America, the nine-banded armadillo now ranges as far north as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana. The other twenty or so armadillo species remain in Central and South America.
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, The State of Texas traditionally has recognized a variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of the proud spirit and heritage of our state; and
WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, the Guadalupe bass, and the lightning whelk are examples of some natural specimens that serve to symbolize the great diversity of the Texas landscape, while the state dish, chili, fittingly represents another aspect of our shared culture as Texans; and
WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of an Official State Mammal of Texas has been the subject of an extensive statewide mock election participated in by hundreds of elementary schoolchildren throughout our state; and
WHEREAS, The two front-runners in this race have been the armadillo and the longhorn.
10 million longhorns
WHEREAS, Once the cornerstone of the Texas cattle industry, an estimated 10 million longhorns were herded from Texas to midwestern and western markets during the quarter century that followed the Civil War, providing invaluable stability to the state’s postwar economy.
The armadillo, (Dasypus novemcinctus,) became the official small state mammal of Texas when Governor George W. Bush signed House Concurrent Resolution No. 178 on June 16, 1995. The same resolution named the longhorn the official large state mammal of the State of Texas. Though not specified in House Concurrent Resolution No. 178, we assume that the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is the species legislators were referring to when they named the armadillo the official small state mammal of Texas. It is commonly found as far north and east as Oklahoma and Mississippi.
The nine-banded armadillo, a relatively recent addition to the Texas fauna, is the only species of armadillo that occurs in North America, the other twenty or so species of Dasypodidae being restricted to South and Central America. The Texas armadillo is about the size of a large cat; its overall length is about 2? feet, and adults weigh from twelve to seventeen pounds. Mature females mate in late summer and autumn and give birth to identical quadruplets the following spring. The armadillo’s diet consists chiefly of insects, grubs, and spiders, though it also eats such foods as earthworms, small amphibians, and reptiles.
Characteristics of the Texas Armadillo
Body Length: 15-17 in. Tail: 14-16 in. Weight: 8-17 lbs.
The Nine-banded Armadillo is a cat-sized, armored, insect-eating mammal. Similar in form to an anteater, the bony, scaled shell of the armadillo protects it from attacks by predators. Unfortunately, armadillos often fall victim to automobiles and are frequently found dead on roadsides.
A prolific digger, armadillos dig many burrows, as well as dig for food. Distribution is often determined by soil conditions, since the animal will not survive in areas where the soil is too hard to dig. Many other wildlife species use and benefit from these abandoned burrows.
Although occasionally considered a nuisance by home owners, the armadillo’s habit of digging up lawns is driven by its appetite for grubs, which can also harm lawns.
Though not specified in House Concurrent Resolution No. 178, we assume that the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is the species legislators were referring to when they named the armadillo the official small state mammal of Texas. The nine-banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo that lives in North America.
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