List of State Dinosaurs


Looking for a handy list of state dinosaurs? We’ve got you covered! With new types of dinosaurs being discovered as scientists are always digging for dinosaur bones, it’s fun to see who made the list.

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In 2022, Massachusetts became the latest state to announce an official dinosaur. Podokesaurus holyokensis, or ‘fleetfooted lizard,” was discovered in 1910 in western Massachusetts by Mount Holyoke College professor Mignon Talbot, also making her the very first woman in America to find, discover, name and describe a dinosaur!

Not every state has an official dinosaur. For instance, Montana has a dinosaur trail, but not a state dino. Find out who made the cut and why.


Sonorasaurus thompsoni (2018)

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This “Sonora lizard” was named after geology student Richard Thompson. He didn’t rely on trace fossils to identify his find, instead, he found a nearly complete skeleton weathering out on a rock wall in an unexplored region of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona in 1994. This brachiosaurus was almost named “Chihuahuahsaurus” but paleontologist Ronald Paul Ratkevich with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum thought that made this dino sound like a tiny dog. Lol!


Arkansaurus fridayi (2017)

In 1972, circling vultures led Locksburg, Arkansas, service station owner Joe B. Friday to some odd bones poking out of a gravel ditch after local roadwork. He dug them up – three claws, four phalanges and three metatarsals – to display in his station. While on display, they caught the attention of paleontologist, Dr. James H. Quinn who determined them related to Ornithomimus and presented them at the 1973 Geological Society of America Meeting. Before Quinn could formally name his six- to 15-foot tall omnivore (plant and meat eater), he died while fossil prospecting in Nevada. The bill to name Arkansaurus fridayi as the State dinosaur was proposed by high school student Mason Cypress Oury.


Augustynolophus morrisi (2017)

California is known for the La Brea Tar Pits and the dinosaur fossil finds there. This dinosaur, combines the names of the Augustyn family (friends of the Los Angeles County Museum) and paleontologist William Morris, with dino relative, Saurolophus. Discovered in the Moreno Formation, the only known specimens of this herbivorous hadrosaur have been found in California, making it the perfect official state dinosaur.

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Stegosaurus (1982)

Since 1982, Stegosaurus “covered lizard” has technically been the official state fossil, not dinosaur, of Colorado. The first (1876) stegosaurus fossils were found in Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science even displays a skeleton unearthed by a local teacher and Canon City High School students. The brain in the head of this 10-ton giant was the size of a walnut, but research suggests a second, larger brain was in its… hindquarters!


Dilophosaurus wetherilli (2017)

This “two-crested lizard,” was among the earliest large predatory dinosaurs, thanks to its serrated teeth. It is the largest known North American land animal of its time. Today, it enjoys top billing among Jurassic Park characters, where a smaller (!) version was given the fictional ability to spit venom and expand its neck frill. It was designated the state dinosaur of Connecticut based on tracks found there.


Dryptosaurus aquilunguis (2022)

This “tearing lizard” lived over 60 million years ago. It was a two-ton carnivorous dino that dominated the latter-Cretaceous period. Named by Othniel C. Marsh in 1877, Dryptosaurus is among the first theropods known to science.


Astrodon johnstoni (1998)

This dino’s scientific name, Astrodon, means “star tooth.” Found in 1859 by John D. Latchford in his open iron ore pit near Prince George’s County, this planteating sauropod is the second dino species ever identified in the United States. In 1998, it was named after Baltimore Dental College professor Christopher Johnston, who sectioned the first Astrodon johnstoni tooth and discovered the star pattern inside.


Hypsibema missouriensis (2004)

Originally called Neosaurus missouriensis, then Parrosaurus missouriensis, one thing is sure: Missouri loves its 10-foot tall, three-ton, duck-billed, plant-eating state dinosaur. The first bones – 13 vertebrae of a tail – were found in 1942 while digging a family cistern near Glen Allen. It marked the first and only dino remains found in Missouri. When House Bill 1209 went into effect in 2004, Missouri became the sixth state to have an official dinosaur and in 2008, a full-size H. missouriensis went on display at the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History.

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New Jersey

Hadrosaurus foulkii (1991)

This duckbilled dinosaur was found by John Hopkins in 1858 while digging in a Haddonfield marl pit. More than 75 million years old, it became the first dinosaur species identified in North America from more than teeth. Thanks to write-in campaigns by Mrs. Berry and her fourth-grade class at Strawbridge Elementary School in Haddon Townships, Hadrosaurus was named state dinosaur in 1991.


Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (2006)

This “high-spined lizard” lived across North America during the Early Cretaceous period. Fossil remains of the spiny predator have ranged from Maryland to Wyoming. At roughly 40 feet in length and weighing in at about four tons, Acrocanthosaurus was the largest theropod in its ecosystem. Its name comes from the Greek words for “thorn” and “lizard,” and Atoka County in Oklahoma, where the first fossils were found. The largest and most complete skeleton, nicknamed ‘Fran,’ was recovered from the Antlers Formation of Oklahoma and now resides in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

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Sauroposeidon proteles (2009)

When the first fossil remains of this “lizard earthquake god” and last known North American sauropod were found in 1994, they were so old and unusual in size that they were misidentified as petrified wood! Further analysis has since ranked it among the longest (110 feet), heaviest (60 tons), and tallest (55 feet) of all known dinosaurs. The reference to earthquakes comes from the notion that its weight was so great it must have made the ground shake as it walked.

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Utahraptor ostrommaysorum (2018)

Its name means “Utah’s predator,” and this Early Cretaceous period carnivore, was roughly the size of a modern grizzly bear. The first fossils were found in 1975 near Moab but didn’t gain attention until 1991, when a large foot claw was uncovered in Gaston Quarry in Grand County. Originally to be named after film director Steven Spielberg, ostrommaysi was chosen instead, in honor of paleontologist John Ostrom, and Chris Mays, founder of robotics effects company Dinamation International.

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Triceratops horridus (1994)

Named for its “three-horned face,” this frilled herbivore was among the last non-avian dinosaurs to disappear during the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction 66 million years ago. The first fossils of this dino superstar, who has appeared in films and on postage stamps, were misidentified as belonging to a very large and unusual bison. Six years before becoming Wyoming’s State Dinosaur, it was named the State Fossil of South Dakota.

This list of state dinosaurs article previously appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe! Story by L.A Sokolowski.


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