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Arizona dinosaur: Sonorasaurus named official state dinosaur

Posted at 10:54 AM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 19:33:13-04

Governor Ducey has named the Sonorasaurus the official state dinosaur in response to a letter from an 11-year-old student. However, some may have a bone to pick with this selection. The path from the cretaceous period to prominence in modern-day Arizona was a long one for this dinosaur.

University of Arizona grad student Rich Thompson discovered bones of what became the Sonorasaurus southeast of Tucson back in 1994. 24 years later, the stroke of two pens, one from a students and one from the governor put this prehistoric beast on a pedestal.

Designating a state dinosaur and pushing paleontology and inspiring people, not just any skeletons, but the ones taken out of the ground here in the Sonoran desert; that is what this move was meant to do. But some in the scientific community have their doubts.

"The field work is hard work but it's sort of romantic and adventurous."

Dr. Robert McCord could tell you just about everything there is to know about these dinosaurs at Mesa's Arizona Museum of Natural History. At the risk of sounding like the proverbial stick in the tar pits, he doesn't believe Sonorasaurus can carry the banner of inspiration and scholarship.

"It probably fails to be the best in both of those areas."

Scutellosaurus, Dr. McCord tells ABC15, should have been considered for its unique Arizona presence. In fact, he says the paleontology community should have had a voice in the selection process.

"Looking at it from promoting the profession, and the concept of a role model and and example and an inspiration..." Dr. McCord isn't all that impressed.

He commends 11-year-old Jax Weldon for his interest in designating a state dinosaur as his goal is to build upon the excitement of his own life-long love for fossils. Rich Thompson feels the same way.

"I'm just happy they did what they did. I would be fully supportive of any dinosaur that is found on Arizona lands being the state dinosaur." Thompson told ABC15. 

For now, we salute the Sonorasaurus for sticking its neck out for all the state to see.