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Bob Strauss

And the State Dinosaur of Texas Is...

By January 14, 2009

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You have to feel sorry for Texans these days: not only are they losing their beloved president, but their official State Dinosaur is having an identity crisis. According to the University of Minnesota's Peter Rose (who obtained his undergraduate degree in geology at SMU), the current Texas state dinosaur, Pleurocoelus, has been misidentified. The bones of this sauropod were first unearthed in Maryland in the late 19th century, and similar fossil remains found in Texas were assigned to this genus. Not so fast, Rose says: the Texas bones are different enough to merit their own genus, Paluxysaurus (after the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas).

Whatever the case--a resolution to change the name has been filed with the Texas legislature--Texans must be disappointed that their state sauropod is so obscure. The fact is, all the big dinosaur finds have been made to the north and west of the Lone Star State, in places like Nebraska and Arizona, and I somehow doubt that Paluxysaurus (or Pleurocoelus) will ever roll off kids' tongues as naturally as Brachiosaurus or Apatosaurus.


January 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm
(1) Geology Guide says:

It’s not clear from the press release that Paluxysaurus has been formally renamed in a published paper. I sincerely hope it has before the legislature gets involved. Other than that, I would be happy to see Pleurocoelus (PLUR-o-SEE-lus) get a friendlier name.

January 23, 2009 at 11:44 am
(2) Frank Grainger says:

It was indeed a bitter pill for me as a typically dinosaur-enthralled kid to learn that my Texas home was mostly underwater during the Mesozoic. All I’ve been able to unearth has been a lone archelon, lots of shells and crinoids, and about a bajillion shark teeth. (Sigh.)
As for President Bush, we’re not losing him; we’re getting him back from an 8-year loan.

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