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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.
Description of the Oklahoma State Fossil
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.
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.
145 to 150 million years ago (Late Jurassic)
Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Oklahoma
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.
Several characteristics that typify a theropod:
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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