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Oklahoma State Fossil
Adopted on April 14, 2000.
The governor signed Senate Bill 1185 on April 14, 2000 designating the Theropod Dinosaur, (Saurophaganax maximus,) the state fossil.
This spectacular dinosaur, the “greatest king of reptile eaters”, once roamed this great land. It is only known from Oklahoma and has surpassed the Tyrannosaurus rex, the “king of the dinosaurs”, as the greatest predator of earth’s history. The first bones of Saurophaganax were found in the late 1930s by a WPA crew under the supervision of a University of Oklahoma paleontologist. Since that time, discoveries have been rare and fragmentary. However, a very nice restoration is on display at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, which has an entire hall devoted to prehistoric life.
Oklahoma State Fossil: Theropod Dinosaur
Saurophaganax ("lizard-eating master") is a genus of allosaurid dinosaur from the Morrison Formation of Late Jurassic Oklahoma (latest Kimmeridgian age, about 151 million years ago). Some paleontologists consider it to be a species of Allosaurus (A. maximus). Saurophaganax represents a very large Morrison allosaurid characterized by horizontal laminae at the bases of the dorsal neural spines above the transverse processes, and "meat-chopper" chevrons.The maximum size of S. maximus has been estimated at anywhere from 34 ft to 43 ft in length, and around 3 ton in weight.
Characteristics of the Theropod Dinosaur
The theropod (meaning "beast-footed") dinosaurs are a diverse group of bipedal saurischian dinosaurs. They include the largest terrestrial carnivores ever to have made the earth tremble.
Geologic Time: 145 to 150 million years ago (Late Jurassic)
Geographic Range: Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Oklahoma
Identification: Allosaurus was the most common large carnivore of the Late Jurassic in North America. It
was a smaller predecessor of the Cretaceous Tyrannosaurus. Strong forelimbs with sharp claws, powerful hind legs
and recurved, dagger-like teeth are evidence that Allosaurus was a formidable predator. Although it was much smaller
than sauropods like Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), which were also common at the time, quite possibly Allosaurus hunted
in packs to bring down larger prey. Like many meat eaters, it may also have been a scavenger.
Adult Weight: 1.5 - 2 tons
Adult Length: 30 - 40 ft long
Habitat: Plains and lowlands
Several characteristics that typify a theropod:
Oklahoma Revised Statutes, Title 25, Chapter 3, Section 25-98.6.
Title 25. Definitions and General Provisions.
Most US states have made a state fossil designation, in many cases during the 1980s. It is common to designate one species in which fossilization has occurred, rather than a single specimen, or a category of fossils not limited to a single species.
Some states that lack a "state fossil" have nevertheless singled out a fossil for formal designation such as a state dinosaur, rock, gem or stone.
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