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story.lead_photo.caption Mason Cyprus Oury, accompanied by Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, testifies why the Arkansaurus fridayi should be recognized as the state dinosaur Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. ( Emma Pettit)

A group of lawmakers voted Wednesday to back a proposal dreamt up by an Arkansas high school student who wants the state to recognize the only dinosaur ever discovered within its borders.

Mason Cypress Oury, accompanied by Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, sat in front of a House panel and told legislators why Arkansas needs to make the Arkansaurus fridayi the official state dinosaur. Leding submitted the bill, which has several co-sponsors, earlier this month, and he presented an amended version with Oury on Wednesday morning.

The Fayetteville High School senior told lawmakers he’s had a passion for paleontology and been curious about Arkansaurus fridayi since he was “itty bitty.”

A few years ago, Oury said he was doing research online, and he noticed that Arkansas, like many other states, had never designated a state dinosaur. But the website did say people could contact their legislators to change that fact, and Oury thought, “I’m doing that.”

“And now we’re here,” he said.

Photo by John Sykes Jr.
FILE — Bill Prior of the Arkansas Geological Survey, standing near a full-scale model of the dinosaur Arkansaurus fridayi, holds a casting of the creature’s footprint in this 2015 photo.

When making his case, Oury mentioned that Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri all have listed state dinosaurs, which means “we need to catch up to our border rivals,” he said.

Plus, the high schooler said, Arkansas was the 25th addition to the union, but there are currently only 24 state symbols. So mathematically, he said, recognizing the dinosaur just makes sense.

Celebrating the Arkansaurus fridayi would be “another great way to celebrate something that is unique to our state,” Leding added.

A couple of lawmakers asked Oury what he knew about the dinosaur’s appearance. He described a creature resembling an ostrich with a beak that may or may not have housed teeth. It’s not totally dissimilar from a dinosaur found in the Jurassic Park movies, he said.

Rep. Carlton Wing, R-North Little Rock, asked the teen how the would-be Arkansas dinosaur would stack up against the one recognized by Oklahoma.

Since the two creatures had different food sources, Oury said, “They probably would have just, like, ignored each other completely. Like you do your thing over in Oklahoma; I’ll do my thing over here in Arkansas.”

“You gotta learn from the past to understand the present,” he added.

The motion to move the bill to the full House passed unanimously.


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Archived Comments

  • dumblikeme
    January 18, 2017 at 12:32 p.m.

    Does Frank Broyles know about this?

  • drsitzes3
    January 18, 2017 at 12:37 p.m.

    The article states that this is the only dinosaur discovered in Arkansas ? Another Jurassic World dinosaur, the Mosasaur (the big one in the water that saved the day at the end of the movie) has left plentiful fossils at Grandview WMA near Columbus in Hempstead County.
    Nashville also claims home to a species of dinosaur.
    Perhaps I misread the article.

  • drsitzes3
    January 18, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

    Perhaps a Mosasaur is not considered to be a true dinosaur. The fossils at Grandview WMA were discovered when I was a Commissioner for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. We were told they were dinosaurs but reading up on them they may not be true dinosaurs. Sure looked impressive in Jurassic World !!!

  • Foghorn
    January 18, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

    Kudos to this young man - and his parents. He was clearly paying attention in civics class and applied his passion to process in order to achieve his objective. Since he's a high school senior, he must have already applied to college(s). Would be interesting to know his choices and where he lands.

  • Anon74
    January 18, 2017 at 1:13 p.m.

    The remains you are talking about may have been found at other places as well. The way I read the article was this dinosaur has only benn found in Arkansas.

  • LR1955
    January 18, 2017 at 4:02 p.m.

    I think the state should have a full size statue cast in bronze and install it next to the Ten Commandment monument, Evolution & Creationism, working together to make Arkansas great again!

  • waynedanfifecom
    January 18, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.

    Arkansaurus is not listed in any of the Dinosaur's listing on Google. I am not in denial of the existence. I just thought if the State is going to have an official State Dinosaur it would nice to see what it looked like.

  • arkateacher54
    January 18, 2017 at 5:25 p.m.

    How about a state disease - state board game - state soda pop - state fast food restaurant - state hobby - state school subject - state underwear, (boxers, briefs, thong or commando) - state hair style - official state TV show - state automobile - state hat - state junk food - state ice cream flavor - state pizza (I say pepperoni) state shoe - state out-of-state vacation - state illegal drug - state dance - state flavor of Jello, Kool-Aid and Pop-Tart - state microwavable food - state brand of blue jeans - state bad habit - gotta stop somewhere.

  • Foghorn
    January 18, 2017 at 5:56 p.m.

    I think we may have gotten off topic here...

  • LR1955
    January 19, 2017 at 1:01 p.m.

    UncleBuck, do a search in the ArDemGaz, there was another article with photos of a scale recreation of said Dino....