Bill to name official Washington state dinosaur moves one step closer thanks to ancient foot bone – GeekWire

A rendering of Daspletosaurus torosus, also known as Suciasaurus rex. (Wikipedia image)

On Monday, lawmakers looking into the relevance of a dinosaur leg bone moved one step closer to naming the unique find the official dinosaur of Washington state.

A bill to make Suciasaurus rex the state dinosaur passed the House of Representatives for the third time since the Legislature began considering it in 2019. House bill 1020, which requires Senate approval, would make the dinosaur one of more than 20 officially recognized state symbols. in Washington, which joins the ranks of state bird, flower, fruit, fish and more.

The dinosaur fossil is believed to be around 80 million years old and is the first ever found in Washington state.

In April 2012, researchers from Seattle’s Burke Museum made the discovery while searching the shoreline for fossil ammonites at Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.

The fossil is part of a left wing bone that is 16.7 inches long and 8.7 inches wide. Paleontologists identified it as a theropod dinosaur, the group of two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs that includes Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus rex and modern birds, according to Burke.

According to the bill language in the House, dinosaurs are not commonly found in Washington state “due to its proximity to an active tectonic plate boundary and the high level of human development.” Suciasaurus rex may have disappeared somewhere between Baja California, Mexico, and northern California, and the fossil traveled “to Washington along with part of the western margin of North America that was displaced to British Columbia in the Late Cretaceous period.”

The fossil, which is on display at the Burke, made another celebrated move in 2019, when it became the last object to travel from the old Burke Museum to the museum’s new home.

The effort to declare an official state dinosaur began with a fourth-grade class at Elmhurst Elementary School in Parkland, Wash. Students wrote to their representatives, Rep. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland, sponsored a bill, and the Legislature passed it. at the start. up in 2019.

On Monday, Morgan spoke from the House floor in support of the bill.

“This is a DINO-mite piece of legislation,” Morgan said. “This is really about civic engagement from our youth to their state legislature. I ask you for the third time to bring the Suciasaurus rex out of existence, and vote yes especially for our guests today, the children.”

Along with Washington, DC, 14 states have an official dinosaur.

Washington has an official state fossil — the Columbian Mammoth was identified in 1998. Fossils of prehistoric elephants have been found on the Olympic Peninsula.

The dinosaur designation isn’t the only legislation currently being considered thanks to a student-led effort. Students from Ellensburg, Wash., are pushing for Washington’s official state cactus.

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