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Second in size only to the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta (45 miles long and between 6 and 16 miles wide) is home to 500 identified plant species, 300 types of birds, 126 species of fish, 46 varieties of mammals, 69 species of reptiles, and 30 kinds of amphibians.Unfortunately, the state's rapacious development, damming of rivers, chemical runoff from agricultural fields, and lack of concern for the environment have destroyed or threatened much of this priceless habitat.Seismic convulsions and shifting tectonic plates shoved mountains above the waters of ancient seas that reached north of Montgomery.As a result, the state contains the fossil remains of more ancient sea creatures and plants than any other state, dating back hundreds of millions of years.
A hunting and gathering society without pottery, substantial houses, or domesticated plants and animals, they left little trace of their existence beyond magnificent Clovis projectile points at their staging areas on the Tennessee River.
As both agriculture and then heavy manufacturing declined, and as Birmingham and Montgomery were paralyzed by racial conflict, the state lost its long challenge to lead the "New South" into modernization and national leadership.
Decades of decline and decay finally gave way to renewal in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Beneath the waters life thrives, supporting the most diverse array of mussels, snails, turtles, fish, and other aquatic life to be found anywhere in the nation.
At one time, Alabama was home to 180 different species of mussels, accounting for two-thirds of all species found in North America, as well as 83 species of crayfish, the most of any state.