Utahraptor Rips Way Through Senate Toward Becoming the State Dinosaur
The Utahraptor easily ripped its way through the Utah Senate on Monday, clawing its way closer to becoming the official state dinosaur.
The Senate voted unanimously to pass SB41 and sent it to the House.
That came as 10-year-old Kenyon Roberts, who first proposed the bill, stood on the Senate floor by sponsoring Sen. Curt Bramble — and as State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who discovered Utahraptor, watched nearby.
Utahraptor itself, at least parts of one, also stood watch in the Capitol. Replica casts of its skull, thigh, foot and claws were on display in the Capitol’s Hall of Governors, much to the noisy delight of schoolchildren on field trips there.
“You know I’ve been a cynic on state symbols” from the state cooking pot [Dutch oven] to the state folk dance [square dance], said Bramble, R-Provo. “But this one seems to be unique.”
Utah “is the only place on the planet where this particular dinosaur has been discovered,” and probably the only place it ever will be found because of unique geology here that was “able to preserve this particular species.”
Bramble noted how Utahraptor rescued Steven Spielberg and makers of the movie “Jurassic Park” from embarrassment — and brought attention to Utah.
The raptors pictured in that movie were larger than humans, “but all the raptors found up to that time were only about the size of wild turkeys,” Bramble said. The large Utahraptor was found a few months after release of the movie, showing it could have been the large raptor pictured.
At Bramble’s suggestion, the Senate tested young Roberts’ knowledge of dinosaurs by giving him a letter of the alphabet to see if he could name a dinosaur that started with it, and provide information.
When he was given the letter X by Sen. Jacob Anderegg to try to stump him, Roberts quickly said, “Xenotarsosaurus was a theropod like Utahraptor. Theropods are dinosaurs that walk on two legs, and most species ate meat. Xenotarsosaurus looked a lot like its cousin Carnotaurus.” After the quick answer, he said, “Next.”
“Slam on Senator Anderegg,” said Senate President Wayne Niderhauser, R-Sandy, amid laughs. He later added that young Roberts “was just like an encyclopedia of dinosaurs.”
Utah has 27 official state symbols.
Among them are the state fossil (Allosaurus), state bird (seagull), flower (sego lily), insect (honeybee), rock (coal), tree (quaking aspen),winter sports (skiing and snowboarding), firearm (Browning M1911pistol), vegetable (Spanish sweet onion) and historic vegetable (sugarbeet).