California Names Its State Dinosaur

  • The Augustynolophus morrisi roamed the Golden State 66 million years ago
  • His fossils are on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
  • You can follow the Augustynolophus morrisi on Twitter
REP. RICHARD H. BLOOM / TWITTER

It’s never too late to give tribute where it’s due—even if that tribute comes 66 million years after the fact.

California has finally named its state dinosaur—the Augustynolophus morrisi.

Yes, the state with a representational flower (the poppy), reptile (the desert tortoise), and even a fossil (the saber-toothed cat) has somehow neglected, until now, naming a favorite dino, but the final choice was a good one.

The Augustynolophus morrisi was a hadrosaur—a duck-billed dinosaur and a vegetarian. He was also one of the few species of dinosaur to take his time and chew his food. (Perfect for the state’s “chill” vibe.) He was last seen around California from 100 to 66 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period.

He traveled a bit in an attempt to find himself before making his way back to the Golden State, with a little help from a friend—former law student Misha Tsukerman, who reached out to paleontologists seeking nominations for the state dinosaur in 2016.

Scientists don’t know much about the Augustynolophus. He was big— standing at about 10 feet tall and running 30 feet long from his head to the tip of its tail. With only two known fossil specimens of the species (both were found in California in 1939), there’s not much more to tell. As we said above, we do know he was alive during the late Cretaceous period, which ended when a catastrophic extinction wiped out dinosaurs, and all the planet’s animal and plant life (which scientists believe was caused by an asteroid).

The Augustynolophus gets its name from Gretchen Augustyn, the matriarch of a family that has supported the Los Angeles County Museum, and paleontologist William Morris. His fossils can be seen at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, where they’re currently on display in the Dinosaur Hall. You can visit him there, or link to him online—like any good, social media-savvy Angeleno, he has a Twitter page and hopes to compete with the Kardashians as an online influencer.

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