Suciasaurus Rex is more than just the name of a drag queen you will see when bars re-open: It’s also primed to be Washington’s official state dinosaur, if a group of fourth-graders from Tacoma get their way.
Remains of the creature — which we cannot nickname Sue, unfortunately, because there is already a celebrity theropod by that name — was discovered in 2012 in the San Juan Islands, the only dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state. In fact, it may not even be a native Washingtonian; scientists speculate that it traveled up here from California on drifting continents around 80 million years ago, presumably to work at Amazon.
Washington has never had an official state dinosaur before, and a fourth grade class at Parkland’s Elmhurst Elementary has been trying to get the Suciasaurus the coveted spot since 2019. But because of Olympia gridlock, it may be another 80 million years before the legislation finally passes, because some legislators have declared themselves enemies of the dinosaur.
A bill to name a state dinosaur has tromped around since 2019, never quite making it to a vote. This year, it’s sponsored by Representative Melanie Morgan, a Democrat from Tacoma, who says that it’s an important opportunity to show Washington youth that they can have an impact.
But for Republican J.T. Wilcox, it is an opportunity to show Washington youth that they cannot. He cited the bill, along with a gun safety measure, as topics he was expecting to be low priorities until COVID is dealt with. And yes, sure, the pandemic is important and needs to be addressed, of course, but gee whiz just let the kids have their gosh darn dinosaur, dude. (Also wait what’s that about guns???)
At any rate, as of today the bill has survived its first committee and is now awaiting a hearing before the full House. Following close on its heels is another bill impacting Washington youth that threatens to be a much more profound waste of time: SB 5374, which would force every school in the state to teach the “negative effects of communism,” including “the number of deaths under communist leaders.” That number, of course, is 100% of all people, just like under every economic system, because all people die. (BTW how many people have died under American capitalism since the start of the pandemic? Nearly half a million? Cool.) SB 5374 is sponsored by Republicans Jim Honeyford, whose district flirts with Yakima, along with Bill Fortunato (Enumclaw et al) and Jeff Wilson (Willapa Bay on the coast).
SB 5374 will get a hearing this afternoon, and yes, apparently the Red Scare is still very much a thing for these guys. If the Suciasaurus fossil hadn’t been found, we'd have three strong contenders for state dinosaur right here.