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The Arkansas state bird is a mockingbird. The state insect is a honey bee. Soon, if a certain Fayetteville High student has his way, Arkansas will officially adopt its very own state dinosaur as well.
Local student Mason “Cypress” Oury has been working since 2013 on his own campaign to get the Arkansas General Assembly to recognize the Arkansaurus Fridayi as the official dinosaur of the Natural State.
Oury, now a 17 year old junior at Fayetteville High, created a petition for his cause a few years ago, found support for his idea, and that support continues to snowball today.
He created a website, social media pages, and a series of YouTube videos on the subject. He has been in contact with his local legislators and media outlets throughout the state. He even contacted the New York Times.
Oury said he first learned about the Arkansaurus Fridayi, discovered in 1972 by Joe Friday on his land in Lockesburg in south Arkansas, from a book given to him by his father.
“I became interested, more like obsessed, with paleontology when I was seven or eight years old when I got a book about Arkansas’s fossils which included a smaller book about Arkansaurus,” he said. “Arkansaurus is my most favorite dinosaur ever.”
According to Oury, Arkansaurus is the perfect candidate to become the official dinosaur of the state of Arkansas because, as far as anyone knows, is it the only dinosaur that has been found exclusively in this state.
“Out of all of the dinosaurs that lived in Arkansas 120 million years ago, Arkansaurus is the only dinosaur found only here,” Oury said.
Recently, he secured a commitment from Arkansas House of Representatives officials Greg Leding and David Whitaker to bring legislation to the capitol that would make his dream of an Arkansas state dinosaur a reality.
Leding said he plans to make a proposal in Little Rock when the general assembly convenes in January of 2017.
“We are working on it,” he said. “We’re hoping to work with some of the legislators in that area of the state, like Senator Larry Teague and Representative Deanne Vaught.”
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