One Small Step for Dinos, One Giant Leap for California
SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1540, making Augustynolophus morrisi California’s official State Dinosaur. Augustynolophus morrisi, though not as renowned as some of its prehistoric peers, has special significance for California, the state it roamed approximately 66 million years ago. With tongue in cheek, Bloom called on his colleagues to vote for AB 1540 “because it is the most important dinosaur bill in the Legislature this year.”
But, choosing a State Dinosaur furthers important policy for California as well. “Today is a great day for California and for paleontology” said Assemblymember Bloom. “It’s not often that legislation gives us an opportunity to learn about California’s prehistoric past; over the past several months Augustynolophus morrisi has inspired and educated Californians across the state, including its students, policymakers, and journalists.”
Augustynolophus morrisi, affectionately dubbed “Auggie”, belongs to a family of dinosaurs known scientifically as Hadrosauridae and colloquially as “Duckbill Dinosaurs”. Its fossils were first unearthed in 1939 in the Moreno Formation of Fresno County and have only been found in California. Augustynolophus roamed California during the Maastrichtian Age, making it a contemporary of other well-known dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Its fossils are the most complete set of dinosaur fossils to be found in the state and include skull material, which allowed scientist to reconstruct a more accurate picture of its appearance.
In addition to its unique role in California’s prehistoric past, its name also honors two notable Californians: Dr. William J. Morris (1923–2000), a geologist and paleontologist responsible for most of the dinosaur discoveries along the western coast of North America, and Mrs. Gretchen Augustyn, a long-time supporter of the Natural History Museum and former Trustee for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.
Augustynolophus now joins an esteemed list of other state symbols, including the state flower, state animal, and state bird. Californians can see the dinosaur in person at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County, where it is currently being recognized as part of the museum’s weekend-long “Dino Fest”.
“State insignia can be astoundingly effective at educating and exciting students. Many of us first learned about the California poppy and the California grizzly bear due to their special designation in California. AB 1540 can do the same for Augustynolophus morrisi, teaching students across California about a duckbilled, plant-eating dinosaur that roamed our state 66 million years ago.”
Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.