By Jocelyn Oceguera
The California state legislature has taken the first step towards adding a dinosaur to the esteemed list of Golden State symbols.
Legislation AB 1540, proposed by assembly member Richard Bloom, will designate Augustynolophus morrisi, a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed California 66 million years ago, as the official state dinosaur.
“Dinosaurs are cool, and highlighting a dinosaur that has such a deep connection to our state will stimulate interest in paleontology and science overall, particularly with children,” said Bloom in a press release.
Bloom believes that this will lead children to become interested in other areas within science, so this bill aligns with the investment that has been made in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, better known as STEM programs.
The first specimen of Augustynolophus morrisi was first discovered in 1939 and belongs to a family of dinosaurs that has only been found in California.
The fossils were unearthed in the Moreno Formation of Fresno County, the geographical center of the state.
The species was named after notable Californians Dr. William J. Morris and Gretchen Augustyn.
Morris was a geologist and paleontologist who was primarily responsible for the majority of dinosaur discoveries along the western coast of North America.
Augustyn was a long- time supporter of the scientific and educational programs at the Natural History Museum and a former trustee for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and the Webb Schools in Claremont, California.
“I think it’s a positive thing getting kids more interested in this stuff,” said Matt Ladwig, a fourth-year hospitality student.
Ladwig thinks that instead of California’s state dinosaur being Augustynolophus morrisi, it should be the T-rex to also represent the Hollywood film industry, which California is known for.
He says that he isn’t sure how well it will work, but what they are trying to do with adding a state dinosaur to promote STEM programs makes sense and it doesn’t hurt to try to get children more involved.
According to Bloom, it is important to remind children of the important role that scientific discovery has had on society and encourage them to continue to learn, discover and innovate.
Others disagree with the idea that adding a state dinosaur will encourage and change the attitudes of children toward STEM subjects.
“I don’t really think dinosaurs represent science in general,” said third-year animal health science student Alejandra Arellano. “I mean, it’s interesting and different, but if a kid is interested in science then he’d be interested in it, if not, then a dinosaur won’t change that.”
The first state symbol to be designated was the Golden Poppy back in 1903, and since then the legislature has designated a total of 33 other symbols.
The legislation, sponsored by the Southern California Paleontological Society and supported by the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, will go before the full state assembly for a vote sometime in the next few weeks.
Press release photo
Assembly member Richard Bloom proposed the adoption of the duck-billed dinosaur as California’s state dinosaur.
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