What is the State Dinosaur of Arizona?

States in the USA have all sorts of symbols, State flowers, State songs, state colors, state guns! and even state dinosaurs. In these series of articles we will take a look at an often overlooked state symbol, and one that not all states have named as of yet. That of the state dinosaur. Here we take a look at the state dinosaur of Arizona.

In 2018 Arizona legislature named the Sonorasaurus as the State dinosaur of Arizona. It joined the State Fossil Araucarioxylon arizonicum after Jax Wheldon wrote to the State Governor, Doug Ducey, suggesting the Sonorasaurus as the State dinosaur. Sonorasaurus was a sauropod dinosaur of up to 50 feet in length.

There is also a state fossil of Arizona as well as a state dinosaur, and we will also take a brief look at that. Firstly we will take a look at the Sonorasaurus Thompsoni and give you a few details abut this impressive sauropod.

What is the State dinosaur of Arizona

Sonorasaurus Facts: The State Dinosaur of Arizona

We have some quick facts about Arizona’s State dinosaur, the Sonorasaurus below for you and have included a table to make it easier to read as well. The other state to have a sauropod as a state dinosaur is Texas, which you can check out on the link.

Sonorasaurus Quick Facts

  • Sonorasaurus is named after the desert in Arizona it was discovered in, its name actually neas Sonora desert.
  • it was named by R Ratkevich in 1998, but first discovered in 1994/ 195
  • It was a member, and early one, of the Brachiosauridae family, they are the large ones from the first jurassic Park movie.
  • It is estimated to grow up to 50 feet long and be 26 feet tall.
  • It lived, or its fossils have been dated, to 112 to 93 million years ago.
  • Like its later, and larger, brachiosaurus descendants, it was a large herbivore dinosaur that would have eaten leaves and vegetation.
  • Sonorasaurus become the State dinosaur of Arizona in 2018, after Jax Wheldon wrote to the Governor suggesting it.
  • its name has 5 syllables and you pronounce it like this – So – Nor – A – Saw – Rus

Dinosaur NameState Dinosaur of?lengthHeightWeightWhen LivedWhen and where Discovered
SonorasaurusArizona, 201849 feet (15 meters) 26 feet (8 Meters) 50-70,000 lbs (31751.5 kg)112 – 93 million years ago1994

Why is Sonorasaurus the State Dinosaur of Arizona

Although it is not essential for the fossils of state dinosaurs to be found in the actual state it is common for that to be the case. However Sonorasaurus was discovered in Arizona ( we look at that in more detail below) and was proposed to be the state dinosaur, which Arizona did not have at that time, by Jax Weldon who was 11 years old at the time.

he wrote to the then,, and at time of writing, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suggesting that Arizona needed a State dinosaur and that Sonorasaurus was a great candidate. After the two met a bill was put together that then received support across the board in the legislature. Delaware also can thank school children for its State dinosaur as well, and early birds Wyoming also asked their children to vote for their state dinosaur as well.

The bill was passed in April of 2018 with universal support and now Arizona has its own state dinosaur, the huge long necked Sonorasaurus!

Where was Sonorasaurus discovered?

Sonorasaurus is an Arizonian Dinosaur and its fossils were described in 1998 although it was found in 1994 in the Sonoran desert in the South of Arizona. As testament to the vastness of Arizona’s desert area it was an almost complete skeleton of this large sauropod that was found, almost, in plain view in a rock wall and had not been discovered!

What is the State dinosaur of Arizona?

While it was easy to find it was less easy to remove and excavate and the process took 4 years from 1995 to 1999 although it was described as a member of the brachiosaurus family member and a very early one. the fossil was dated to 112 to 93 million years ago.

What is the State Fossil of Arizona?

The State fossil of Arizona is actually not a dinosaur. It is from ancient forests that were discovered in the north of Arizona. The Scientific name of Arizonas State fossil in Araucarioxylon arizonicum

These ancient trees underwent a process of petrification over million of years which means their organic material was replaced by stone and minerals. Originally there were huge conifers that could be up to 9.5 feet around at the bottom of the tree, and grow an incredible 194 feet, (59 meters) tall. It easy to see why dinosaurs like Sonorasaurus had to have such a long neck!

They gre in vast forests around 250 to 200 million years ago and are sometimes called rainbow wood as they can have many different colors within them. Sometimes there is evidence of insects living and boring into the trucks found as well.

Sonorasaurus State dinosaur of Arizona


So up until 2018 there was no state dinosaur for Arizona, despite the state being famous for its rich fossils beds and dinosaur discoveries it was represented only by petrified wood called Araucarioxylon arizonicum.

That is until a letter from a school boy called Jax Wheldon found it way to the governor’s desk in 2018 and Sonorasaurus, from Arizona’s Southern desert, went through the process of being named State dinosaur for Arizona.

It may have taken 20 plus years since its discovery, but for a dinosaur that lived 100 million years ago, 20 years is not to long a time to wait!

you can check out the other state dinosaurs, those that have adopted one as a state symbol, here in the following list.

You can also read more about State dinosaurs in our US State dinosaur page as well linked here and below.


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