Environment & Science

California could soon get its own state dinosaur: The duck-billed Augustynolophus morissi

File: A dinosaur skeleton on display at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County.
File: A dinosaur skeleton on display at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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The Golden State is synonymous with the poppy flower, the grizzly bear and many more state insignia, and now a proposed state dinosaur may be added to the list.

Southern California Assemblyman Richard Bloom introduced legislation last week, AB 1540, that would appoint Augustynolophus morissi — a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed throughout central California 66 million years ago — as the state's prehistoric mascot.

The dinosaur's fossilized remains were first discovered in 1939 in present-day Fresno and San Benito counties, senior vice president at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County Dr. Luis Chiappe told KPCC. 

A 35-foot-long fossilized skeleton of the dinosaur is already on display at the Natural History Museum, he said. 

"If you want to have a state dinosaur, this is your dinosaur," he said. "No question about that."

Chiappe said he traveled to Sacramento to lobby in favor of the designation this week, praising the dinosaur's plant-based diet, duck-billed appearance and love of living near the ocean — like most Californians. 

"Let's make it simple — it's fun to have a state dinosaur," he said. "It's also another vehicle to teach about science." 

The bill has been approved by the state Assembly and now requires a state Senate vote before it can head to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. 

The interest in the extinct species may have resurrected the ancient reptile — a Twitter account for it was created last month and now has a moderate following.

https://twitter.com/augustynolophus/status/847198634575765511

Apart from its distinct physical features, Augustynolophus seems to take pride in his vegetarian dietary preferences.

https://twitter.com/augustynolophus/status/847206559562186752

Now that California is closer to officially appointing Augustynolophus, the next step is to come up with a name that's easier to pronounce. We nominate the name "Auggie." He joins several other states who have also designated official state dinos.

Since 1903, with the designation of the golden poppy as the state flower, the California Legislature has appointed a whopping 33 other state symbols. The list includes things you'd expect like the state tree, song and motto — but also some unorthodox insignias, like the state dance and fabric. 

Here's a full list of California's official state designations:

State insignia Designation
Flower Golden poppy
Bird California Valley Quail
Tree California Redwood
Theatre Pasadena Playhouse
Fish California Golden Trout
Song I Love You California
Animal California grizzly
Motto Eureka
Rock Serpentine
Mineral Native gold
Nickname Golden State
Reptile Desert tortoise
Insect California Dogface Butterfly
Fossil Sabre-tooth Cat
Historical society California Historical Society
Gemstone Benitoite
Folk dance Square dance
Dance West coast swing
Artifact Chipped stone bear
Marine fish Garibaldi
Soil San Joaquin soil
Fife and drum band California Consolidated Drum Band
Tartan Based on the family tartan of John Muir
Gold Rush ghost town Town of Bodie
Grass Purple needlegrass
Silver Rush ghost town Calico
Marine reptile Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle
Amphibian California Red-Legged Frog
Pet Shelter pet
Lichen Lace lichen
Fabric Denim