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State dinosaur suciasaurus rex
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4th-graders help renew push to get Washington a state dinosaur

The Suciasaurus rex on display at Seattle's Burke Museum. (Burke Museum)

In March 2019, a bill was introduced that would have made the Suciasaurus rex Washington’s official dinosaur. After failing to make any progress last year, it’s been reintroduced for the 2020 legislative session, and could soon be on its way to passing.

Why it took so long to find a dinosaur fossil in Washington

The Suciasaurus rex is named after the first and only dinosaur fossil found in Washington state, at Sucia Island State Park in the San Juans in 2012.

The fossil itself is a portion of a left femur of a theropod, a bipedal class of dinosaurs that includes the likes of the Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, and more. Experts aren’t certain which specific theropod it belongs to, but predominant evidence points to a Daspletosaurus, a close, smaller relative to the T-rex.

Reintroducing the bill Wednesday, sponsor Rep. Melanie Morgan noted that she was doing it “on behalf of some civically engaged” 4th-graders at Elmhurst Elementary in Tacoma.

According to a report from the Everett Herald, Lisa Lantz with Washington State Parks also brought a cast of the fossil for lawmakers to see firsthand during a Wednesday hearing in the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.

The bill is scheduled for a committee vote during an 8 a.m. session on Friday.

It’s sponsored by 30 Democrats and a pair of Republicans, looking to commemorate a unique slice of Washington history. Dinosaurs aren’t common to the Evergreen State, thanks to its proximity to an active tectonic plate boundary.

Scientists theorize that the Suciasaurus rex actually originated somewhere around California, later hitching a ride on a portion of the western edge of North America that was eventually displaced to British Columbia in the Late Cretaceous period (a theory that has proved controversial in some circles).

Archaeologist finds remnants of old Seattle during viaduct project

Washington would join 12 other states in having a designated state dinosaur, including Arizona (Sonorasaurus), Arkansas (Arkansaurus), California (Augustynolophus), Colorado (Stegosaurus), Connecticut (Dilphosaurus), Maryland (Astrodon), Missouri (Hypsibema missouriensis), New Jersey (Hadrosaurus), Oklahoma (Acrocanthosaurus), Utah (Utahraptor), Wyoming (Triceratops), and Texas (Paluxysaurus). Washington, D.C. also has its own official dinosaur, aptly dubbed the Capitalsaurus.

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