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Oklahoma State Fossil

Oklahoma State Fossil(Acrocanthosaurus: — By Dmitry Bogdanov – dmitrchel@mail.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0source. Allosaurus (smaller picture): By Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0link.)

Oklahoma is similar to Utah in that it has two official dinosaurs, one designated the official dinosaur, the other the official fossil. Couldn’t legislators dream up a more creative and educational title?

The official fossil is Saurophaganax maximus. It lived during the Late Jurassic, 151 million years ago. It was bigger than Allosaurus (Utah’s official fossil), to which it is believed to be closely related. From the legislation:

“This spectacular dinosaur [Saurophaganax maximus], 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.”

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis was crowned the state dinosaur. It was similar to the more familiar Tyrannosaurus rex, though it had prominent spines on its back and three six-inch claws on each forearm. It lived during the Middle Cretaceous period (125-112 million years ago), long before T. rex appeared on the scene.

The name A. atokensis commemorates Atoka County, where the first evidence of this ancient beast was discovered in the 1940s.

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