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Renewed push to designate Suciasaurus rex the WA state dinosaur

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

There is a bipartisan movement to designate the Suciasaurus rex as the official dinosaur of Washington state. 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. Rep. Melanie Morgan, a Democrat from Parkland, joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss the the renewed push, years in the making.

“This is an exciting piece of legislation. I had a fourth grade class at the time contact me. They had done some research and found some fossils that in the San Juan Islands; they were working with the Burke Museum. And so they contacted my office with their research and asked me if I would run a state dinosaur. And of course, I’m not going to let a bunch of 10 year-olds down,” she said.

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“So I went ahead and said, ‘Of course I’m going to do this.’ We got stopped up along the way in the senate, tried everything up to the last day, couldn’t get it through. But I hope that this year we can help out — they’re 12 year-olds now — and their work that they had engaged with the Legislature and hope that we can find them success.”

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

The Suciasaurus rex is not believed to have originated in Washington state, and some 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. But this gray area does not diminish the enthusiasm behind the bill.

“I think the issue more so here is from the fourth grader, 10 year-old’s point of view is not necessarily whether it lived here its whole existence. But it did come to rest here and we would like to take part in that, and show that we did have dinosaurs roam the state of Washington,” Morgan said.

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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.

With reporting from MyNorthwest staff.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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