When you think of Arizona, images of the Grand Canyon, sprawling deserts, and vibrant sunsets might come to mind. But did you know that Arizona also has a rich history of dinosaurs? In fact, it even has an official state dinosaur! In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of the “Arizona State Dinosaur”, the dinosaurs found in Arizona, and some interesting facts about Arizona for kids.
The Arizona State Dinosaur
In 2018, Arizona designated Sonorasaurus as its official state dinosaur. This dinosaur species was discovered in southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert, hence the name ‘Sonorasaurus’.
Sonorasaurus was a gigantic dinosaur, part of the Brachiosauridae family, which includes some of the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth. It roamed the area we now know as Arizona during the Cretaceous period, around 112 million years ago. Imagine a creature as tall as a five-story building with a long neck and tail, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Sonorasaurus looked like.
Dinosaurs Found in Arizona
Apart from Sonorasaurus, many other dinosaur fossils have been found in Arizona. The state’s unique geological features have made it a treasure trove for paleontologists. Some of the most notable dinosaur discoveries include Dilophosaurus, Coelophysis, and Sarahsaurus.
Dilophosaurus, made famous by the Jurassic Park movies, was actually one of the earliest large predatory dinosaurs. Its fossils were first discovered in northern Arizona in the early 1940s. Unlike its movie counterpart, there’s no evidence that Dilophosaurus spat venom or had a frill around its neck.
Coelophysis, another dinosaur found in Arizona, was a small, agile predator that lived during the Late Triassic period. Its fossils are especially important because they give us insight into the early evolution of dinosaurs.
Sarahsaurus, named after Sarah Butler, a benefactor of the Museum of Northern Arizona, is a sauropodomorph dinosaur discovered in Arizona. It provides crucial information about how early dinosaurs evolved and spread across the world.
Facts About Arizona for Kids
Now that we’ve explored the world of dinosaurs in Arizona, let’s look at some fun facts about Arizona for kids. Did you know that Arizona is the sixth largest state in the U.S. by area? It’s also home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – the Grand Canyon.
Arizona has the largest percentage of its land designated as Indian lands. The state is rich in Native American culture, with 22 sovereign American Indian communities. It’s also famous for its saguaro cacti, which are the largest cacti in the United States and can live to be over 150 years old!
In addition to all these, Arizona has a history filled with stories of gold miners, cowboys, and pioneers. It became the 48th state of the U.S. on February 14, 1912, earning it the nickname “The Valentine State”.
Dinosaur Parks in Arizona
If you’re a dinosaur enthusiast visiting Arizona, there are several places where you can learn more about these fascinating creatures. The Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa has an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils from Arizona and beyond. You can even see a flash flood simulation in their Dinosaur Mountain exhibit!
Another must-visit is the Petrified Forest National Park. This park is known for its large deposits of petrified wood, but it also has a rich collection of Late Triassic fossils, including many early dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
Arizona’s state dinosaur, Sonorasaurus, along with the many other dinosaur species found in the state, tells a story of a time long past when these magnificent creatures roamed the Earth. The state’s rich geological history, unique landscapes, and dedication to preserving and studying its dinosaur heritage make it a fascinating place for anyone interested in paleontology or natural history.
So next time you’re enjoying the beautiful Arizona sunset or visiting one of its stunning national parks, remember that you’re standing on land that was once home to some of the most awe-inspiring creatures to have ever lived. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to discover the next big dinosaur find in Arizona!