After 66 million years, this gentle beast is being recognized.
augustynolophus dinosaur state california museum of natural history los angeles skull fossil
Credit: Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

A duck-billed, plant-eating creature has officially been named the state dinosaur of California, at least 66 million years after its species roamed the Earth.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill honoring the Augustynolophus (Aw-gus-tin-o-lo-fus) morrisi with the title, stating that the creature was “a unique dinosaur that has only been found in California.”

Indeed, the fossilized remains of the dino have been discovered only within the Golden State and are said to be between 66 and 100 million years old. The remains were found in Fresno County in 1939 and 1940 as the most complete dinosaur ever to be unearthed in California, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The Augustynolophus was a hardosaur, characterized by its plant-based diet and duck bill-shaped mouth. According to the Los Angeles Times, the dino (whose diet is undoubtedly the inspiration for Cali’s trendiest vegans) would have lived around the same time as more well-known species like Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus. It’s possible that the species may have been around to witness the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

The official state dinosaur, which the Governor hopes will bolster young residents’ interest in paleontology, joins official state tree the California Redwood, official state amphibian the California Red-Legged frog, and many other state-distinguished emblems.

California is also not the first to name a state dino: Several other states and Washington D.C. have also declared an official dinosaur.