What is the State Dinosaur of Wyoming?

Wyoming is a perfect demonstration of the early bird gets the worm. One of the earliest US states to officially have a dinosaur as a state symbol meant they got the pick of the bunch. Couple this with a state with an embarrassment of fossil riches and you can see why it managed to snag one of the most popular dinosaurs of all time. We take a look at which iconic dinosaur Wyoming choose as its State dinosaur below..

The Triceratops is the State Dinosaur of Wyoming and has been since its adoption on March the 18th, 1994. it was voted as state dinosaur by the children of elementary schools throughout the state. Although fossils were first discovered in Colorado, they have since been found extensively in Wyoming.

The triceratops is often jostling with the T-Rex for position of the worlds’ most popular dinosaur, and truth be told it is one of our favourites as well. We take a look as some quick facts, and why Wyoming chose the triceratops as their state dinosaur below. We also take a look at its other prehistoric symbol their state fossil as well.

what is the state dinosaur of wyoming

Triceratops Facts: The State Dinosaur of Wyoming

We have some quick facts about the Wyoming State dinosaur, the Triceratops below for you and have included the most important in a table to make access easier as well.

Triceratops Quick Facts

  • Triceratops measured up to 30 feet long and could weigh over 8 tons.
  • Triceratops had three horns on its head – one over each eye and one on its snout
  • Tri means three, Cera means horn and tops (different letter in greek) means face. So Triceratops means three-horned-face.
  • The horns above its eyes could be over 3 feet long (1 metre)
  • Triceratops became the State dinosaur for Wyoming in March 1994 after elementary children in the state were asked to vote.
  • Triceratops was herbivorous, which means it ate plants,
  • Triceratops could weigh as 12,000-18,000 lbs! (5500-9000 kgs)
  • The triceratops lived during the late Cretaceous period, which was around 68-65 million years ago all over what is now Wyoming.
  • Triceratops has 4 syllables and you say it like this. Try – Seh – Ra – Tops
Dinosaur NameState Dinosaur of?lengthHeightWeightWhen LivedWhen and where Discovered
TriceratopsWyoming, 199426 plus feet (8+ meters) 9-10 feet feet (3+ Meters) 16,000 + lbs (7-9,000 kg)68 – 66 million years agoColorado, 1887.

Why is Triceratops the State Dinosaur of Wyoming

Wyoming was certainly early to choose a state dinosaur, in fact only Colorado and New jersey adopted a state dinosaur before it. Like those two states they also chose, well the school children of the state, chose, a dinosaur that lived in what are now those states.

The elementary school children of Wyoming were involved in choosing which dinosaur would represent their state, like in Arizona and Delaware much later, They voted amongst three dinosaurs with the winner, Triceratops, coming top of the voting.

(we could not actually find in our research the other two dinosaurs involved in the vote frustratingly providing proof that no one remembers second place!) So if you are are aware please drop us a line and let us know and we can update this page!

Although reasons for the choice then are unknown, when similar aged children were asked if triceratops was still a good choice for state dinosaur, this year ( 2022) they still agreed with the choice stating that the strength and ability of the Triceratops to defend it’s were a great representation of the state of Wyoming.

The bill was passed in March of 1994 and Wyoming became the third state to adopt a state dinosaur, the popular Triceratops.

What is the State dinosaur of wyoming

Where was Triceratops discovered?

Triceratops was first discovered in 1888, at least officially, in Colorado when the long horns were found. They were sent to O.C. Marsh who incorrectly assigned them to a new, large, species of prehistoric Bison.

There were actually previous fossils found over 10 years previously that although not officially recognised as triceratops, were most likely from this dinosaur. These were first described my Edward drinker cope in 1872 and 74. These were actually discovered in Wyoming near Green river. The holotype fossils were later also found in the Lance formation in Wyoming in 1888.

What is the State dinosaur of wyoming
Dinosaur Central!

Amusingly after the Cowboy, Edmund B Wilson had got over his shock at seeing the huge skull in the cliff face he did what every cowboy would do and tried to lasso it! unfortunately he broke off a horn and the skull fell down the ravine only to be collected later.

As far as we know this is the only case of someone trying to lasso a dinosaur!

What is the State Fossil of Wyoming?

If Triceratops may have been common on the plains of Wyoming 66 million years ago, but the state fossil of Wyoming, the Knightia, certainly out did it in the water. it is the most common Fossilized fish in the world.

It also beat the triceratops in becoming the state fossil, being adopted as such in 1987. However, it didn’t beat the triceratops in age. The Knightia is dated at 50 or so million years ago, not quite as old as triceratops at 66 million years old.

Knightia was a bony fish that was similar, or belonged to the same family as sardines. it grew at its largest size, to about 10 inches long (25 cm) and was a source of food for the many predators that lived in what is now the Green River formation in Wyoming. It was described in 1907

Knightia state fossil of Wyoming

Other Triceratops resources

As we mentioned above Triceratops may be the state dinosaur for Wyoming but it is also one of the worlds favorite dinosaurs. We have loads of other resources on this famous dinosaur on the site and if you are looking for some more information you can start with the list of pages below.

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.


So while triceratops may be the State dinosaur for the cowboy state, it is also one of the most popular dinosaurs of all time, Sharing that interchangeable title with another resident of the Cowboy State the T-Rex.

T – rex is still up for grabs as a state dinosaur and surely it can’t be long till the most iconic of herbivores is joined by the most iconic of carnivores in having its own state.


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