WA Legislature passes state dinosaur bill, heads to governor’s desk

Apr 14, 2023, 7:02 AM | Updated: 9:20 am

state dinosaur...

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

(Burke Museum)

Update 4/14 7:01 a.m.:

House Bill 1020, which names the Suciasaurus rex as the state dinosaur, passed the Washington state Legislature Wednesday and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.

Original 1/12:

The Suciasaurus rex once roamed the state of Washington 12 million years before the Tyrannosaurus rex, but it was just four years ago that fourth graders at Elmhurst Elementary in Parkland started pushing for it to become the official state dinosaur.

As a civics lesson, fourth-grade teacher Amy Cole got in contact with their district representative Melody Morgan to try to pass House Bill 1020 to make the Suciasaurus the state dinosaur. This will be the fourth time that the class has tried to get the bill to pass.

Pickleball, dinosaurs, and a state nickname: Lawmakers weigh trio of lighthearted bills

HB 1067 got close to passing in 2021, after getting moved out of committee and placed in the Rules Committee. For the 2022 session, it retained in its previous status, but was sent back to the Rules Committee for consideration where it went extinct.

“Some of these kids that were with me when I started this project are entering high school soon, and they are still engaged with the process,” Cole said.

While very few dinosaurs are found in Washington state due to the high proximity to an active tectonic plate boundary and the high degree of human development, the Suciasaurus was the only dinosaur to be found in the state.

A partial left femur of a theropod dinosaur – two-legged, meat eaters that include the Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex – was discovered by Burke Museum research associates in April 2012 at the Sucia Island state park in San Juan County. The fossil, 16.7 inches long and 8.7 inches wide, is from the Late Cretaceous period and is around 80 million years old, according to the museum.

“Will you support bringing the Suciasaurus rex out of extinction one more time?” Rep. Morgan asked in a public hearing in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations.

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.

The bill is scheduled for an executive session in the committee Jan. 17.

One kid said, “If this law does pass, that would be dino-tastic.”

Matt Markovich contributed to this report


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WA Legislature passes state dinosaur bill, heads to governor’s desk