Things of Interest

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California State Dinasaur - Augustynolophus morrisi
After being buried for 66 million years, the fossils of two individuals were found by a team from the California Institute of Technology. The first was found in Fresno County in 1939, near the geographical center of California. A second one was found in nearby San Benito County in 1941.

When the fossils were first uncovered, scientists classified them as Saurolophus, a type of hadrosaur first discovered in 1912. It was many years later that a team including NHMLA’s Dinosaur Institute Director Luis Chiappe decided that this dinosaur was unique — not just a new species, but a whole new genus as well. It was reclassified and given its new name: Augustynolophus morrisi, honoring two notable Californians: Dr. William J. Morris and Mrs. Gretchen Augustyn.
The Augustynolophus Morrisi's fossils were found in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. It is the one dinosaur whose bones were found only in the state and its incomplete fossil is in Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

This duck-billed hadrosaur is the official California state dinosaur. Its name is Augustynolophus morrisi (au-gus-tine-o-LOAF-us MORE-iss-ee), and it has some impressive California credentials. This dinosaur is only found in California, and it’s also the most complete dinosaur (of any species) ever found in the state.
Fossil remains of the dinosaur, which lived 66 million years ago, were discovered between 1939 and 1940 in Fresno County by William J. Morris and Gretchen Augustyn, for whom the species is named. According to the bill, scientists originally mistook the the dinosaur for a member of an already-known genus—Saurolophus—but a later study determined it to be a separate species. Two specimens are held in the Dinosaur Hall of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, where busloads of visitors come see it every day. The duck-billed creature joins several dozen other official California things including the official California Mineral (Gold), official California gemstone (Benitoite), the official California Rock (Serpentine), and the official California Bird (Quail).
California State Symbols

Last Revised on December 13, 2023
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