This image shows a restoration of a Daspletosaurus torosus, whose nickname is Suciasaurus rex. (Wikipedia)

This image shows a restoration of a Daspletosaurus torosus, whose nickname is Suciasaurus rex. (Wikipedia)

Suciasaurus rex may become Washington’s official dinosaur

After a dino fossil was found in the San Juan Islands, a bunch of fourth-graders are out to make history.

OLYMPIA — Apples, orcas and the sweet onions of Walla Walla are what many consider symbols of Washington.

Dinosaurs? Nah.

That may soon change.

Thanks to the discovery of a 17-inch fossil and the desire of a class of Parkland fourth graders, Washington may soon have an official state dinosaur named Suciasaurus rex.

Dino-lovers, try to say that one time fast.

The vehicle to make it happen is House Bill 2155 authored by Democratic Rep. Melanie Morgan of Parkland and co-sponsored by 31 Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

On Wednesday, the bill received a hearing in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee. It is scheduled to be voted out of committee Friday.

Morgan said in the hearing that she introduced it “on behalf of some civically engaged” fourth-graders at Elmhurst Elementary. Their curiosity and their tenacity led them to her with a request to make it happen, she said.

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, and Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student, show the size and placement of the fossil fragment compared to the cast of a Daspletosaurus femur. (The Burke Museum)

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, and Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student, show the size and placement of the fossil fragment compared to the cast of a Daspletosaurus femur. (The Burke Museum)

The story dates back a long, long time — like 80 million years, in a place not so far away, the San Juan Islands.

Dinosaurs romped around on the turf we know today as North America. Then it was the Late Cretaceous period. Earthquakes and other geologic forces that reshaped the planet hadn’t begun to work their mojo, pushing rocks and reshaping terra firma into what is today Sucia Island.

Fast-forward to 2012. As the story goes, two researchers from the Burke Museum at the University of Washington traveled to Sucia Island State Park in search of fossil ammonites, which are sea creatures with spiral-shaped shells that lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

On the shore they came upon what was determined to be a fossilized chunk of a left thigh bone of a theropod dinosaur, the group of two-legged meat eaters whose best known member is Tyrannosaurus rex.

This is the only dinosaur fossil ever discovered in the state.

If S-rex becomes the state dinosaur — for the record there’s no competition for the title — it will become the 22nd state symbol. Apples are the state fruit, orcas the state marine mammal, and the Walla Walla sweet onion is the state vegetable. There’s a state fossil (Columbian Mammoth), waterfall (Palouse Falls) and fish (steelhead trout).

If it happens, Washington would become the 12th state with an official dinosaur. That’s per Wikipedia.

Colorado did it first in 1982, bestowing the honor upon Stegosaurus armatus. Utah and Arizona were the latest in 2018.

Washington, D.C., has one too, Capitalsaurus. Seriously.

Back to Olympia.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Lisa Lantz of Washington State Parks brought a cast of the fossil for everyone to see.

“We would be proud to continue to caretake the fossil,” she said in her brief testimony in favor of the bill.

Logan Endres of the Washington State School Directors’ Association urged passage as well. He, too, cited the educational value for the elementary students who first brought the idea to Morgan.

“Those fourth-graders will never forget how a bill becomes law,” he said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

A fire marshal takes photos of the back of a home that caught fire on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Tulalip, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Man suffers burn injuries in Marysville house fire

Around 2:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a report of a mushroom cloud coming from a home at 27th Avenue NE and 81st Street NE.

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company's factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing's stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/TNS)
Boeing lost track of up to 400 faulty 737 Max parts, whistleblower says

The claims were detailed in a Boeing inspector’s complaint on June 11 and made public by a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.