Arkansas State dinosaur

A Dinosaur in Politics and a Dream Realized

Cypress Oury, Reporter


The campaign to officialize ‘Arkansaurus fridayi’ as the state dinosaur of Arkansas entered the political phase. Feb. 20, which was the biggest day of 2016 for this writer. I met with Fayetteville Representatives Greg Leding and David Whitaker about the campaign at a local coffee shop. They were very excited and enthusiastic about the idea, as well as being impressed with the House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) draft. After the meeting, they agreed to work with me to make the dream of an Arkansas state dinosaur come true.

Throughout February and March, I conducted many interviews for various news outlets, such as KUAF (a follow up from a January interview), KNWA, 5 News and the Fayetteville Flyer. Additionally many articles and news pieces have come out about the campaign, some just that picked up the story from other sources and a couple from out of state. The positive attention and enthusiasm from the media and the general public has been very pleasing.

I continued to correspond with Leding and Whitaker about the campaign: finishing touches to the draft, filing the HCR and spreading the word to state legislators asking for their support. I reached out to Joe B. Friday’s family, received a reply from Friday’s son and was contacted by another close relative, about the campaign. They told me that they loved the campaign and that they, especially Friday himself, are very enthusiastic and pleased about ‘their dinosaur’ getting such recognition.

In January, the 91st Arkansas General Assembly convened, and more news outlets picked up on the campaign as HCR1003, the HCR to designate the ‘Arkansaurus fridayi’ as the official state dinosaur, entered its trip through the legislative process. The recorded progress, as recorded from the Arkansas Legislature website, follows:

HCR1003 was filed Jan. 10 at 11:36 a.m. into the Arkansas State House. Then, at 4:10 p.m., it was read twice to the full House, and then referred to the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative & Military Affairs.

Then, Leding was contacted by University of Arkansas grad and Utah paleontologist Rebecca Hunt-Foster about a couple of concerns that HCR1003 was not completely accurate in describing the fossil record of Arkansas pertaining to dinosaurs. Also, as she was in the process of submitting a paper to make the dinosaur’s name official, she feared that the scientific community would view the state dinosaur resolution as Arkansas taking ‘ownership’ of the name ‘Arkansaurus fridayi.’ Leading made an amendment addressing these concerns and then it was “returned by the Committee with the recommendation that it do pass as amended” on Jan. 18 at 12:22 p.m.

January 19 was the first big day for ‘Arkansaurus fridayi.’ At 8:36 a.m., Amendment No. 1 was read and adopted, and the bill was engrossed. At 10:13 a.m., HCR1003 passed the committee, as amended, with a unanimous vote. I was there to speak with the representatives about the bill, alongside Leding. It was a wonderful, very fun and exciting time.

The next big day for the state dinosaur was Jan. 23 at 1:32 p.m. There, it went up first to the full House of Representatives, where it passed again with a unanimous vote. After being read and adopted by the House, HCR1003 was then sent to the Senate, who received it at 4:01 p.m on the same day. At 4:02 p.m., it was read twice to the full Senate, and then referred to Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. There, it was supposed to be considered Jan. 26 at 10:00 a..m, which was then rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. However, it was rescheduled yet again for Jan. 31 at 10:00 a.m.

After being rescheduled twice more, to Feb. 2 and then Feb. 7, the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs finally passed HCR1003 unanimously and then sent it up to the full Senate at 1:51 p.m. On Feb. 16, it passed the full Senate unanimously (or concurred by the Senate) at 11:13 a.m. and then sent back to the House. At 3:43, the same day, the House of Representatives sent it to the desk of Governor Asa Hutchinson for his signature.

On February 17, 2017 at 4:09 p.m., the Governor of Arkansas signed HCR1003, declaring the ‘Arkansaurus fridayi’ as state dinosaur of Arkansas.

Afterwards, I did another interview with KUAF, an interview with CitiScapes magazine, and even spoke to the author of It’s Official!, a book on Arkansas’ state symbols.

Now, thinking about the campaign and the victory, and writing this column…the biggest, most interesting, most significant part of everything having to do with ‘Arkansaurus’ is what comes next, now that ‘Arkansaurus’ is the state dinosaur. I look forward to whatever that is, as my journey to become a paleontologist and my journey alongside ‘Arkansaurus’ continues…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email