OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington officially has its first state dinosaur.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1020 on Thursday, which designates the Suciasaurus rex as the official dinosaur of the state of Washington.
Following the bill signing, Inslee recognized eighth-grader Athena Tauscher as "Washingtonian of the Day" for her work on the bill.
Tauscher repeatedly testified in favor of the bill, which came up as a result of a fourth-grade class project.
She said she learned politics can be "complicated, and messy at times."
The bill failed to advance in the 2020, 2021, and 2022 legislative sessions. Tauscher said the experience of having to repeatedly try to accomplish something taught her a lesson.
"Never give up. If you mess something up, then fix it," said Tauscher.
Amy Cole, Tauscher's fourth-grade teacher, said she is proud of her former students.
"It was a good learning experience for my kids about failure and persistence," said Cole, "And not giving up on something if you really care about it and if you're really passionate about it."
The fossil is on display at the Burke Museum.
In honor of the bill being signed, museum staff are moving it to the lobby so visitors can see it for free from next Tuesday, May 9 to Sunday, May 14.
The dinosaur represents the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state by paleontologists back in 2012. The fossil belonged to a therapod, a two-legged meat eater like the Velociraptor and the Tyrannosaurus rex, according to the Burke Museum.
Found on the shores of Sucia Island State Park, the fossil was identified as a thigh bone slightly smaller than a T. rex's. Because the fossil is incomplete, paleontologists weren't able to identify the exact family or species the bone belongs to.
The bill to designate the Suciasaurus rex as the official state dino was brought forward by Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland).
The class at Elmhurst Elementary in the Fraklin Pierce School District researched the dinosaur and how a bill becomes law and then brought the idea to Morgan's office, who made it a priority to get the bill passed ever since.
“This is a DINO-mite piece of legislation,” Morgan said when the bill went on the House floor. “This is really about civic engagement from our youth with their state legislature. I ask you for the third time to bring the Suciasaurus rex out of extinction, and vote yes especially for our guests today, the children.”