Augustynolophus: State Dinosaur of California | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

This duck-billed hadrosaur is the official California state dinosaur. Its name is Augustynolophus morrisi (au-gus-tine-o-LOAF-us MORE-iss-ee), and it has some impressive California credentials. This dinosaur is only found in California, and it’s also the most complete dinosaur (of any species) ever found in the state.

 

 

Only at NHMLA

There are only two fossil specimens of Augustynolophus in the world, and both are here at NHMLA. Visitors to the Museum can discover this duck-billed celebrity — nicknamed Auggie —  in the Dinosaur Hall on the 2nd floor mezzanine.

 

 

All About Augustynolophus

Augustynolophus morrisi lived about 66 million years ago near what is now central California. They were hadrosaurs, a family of duck-billed dinosaurs. The shape of their skull, with the distinct “duck-bill” look, probably was useful for browsing trees and small plants, and their broad teeth helped them grind the chewy leaves.

 

About as long as a school bus, they lived at the very tail end of the Age of the Dinosaurs, just before these giant animals went extinct.

 

Cretaceous California

During the Cretaceous Period, 145-66 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and much of California was underwater. Fossils of Augustynolophus were found in areas that used to be at the bottom of this ancient ocean. When these individuals died, they were swept out to sea, eventually settling to the bottom and being buried by layers of sediment, preserving them for paleontologists to someday find.

 

 

Discovery

After being buried for 66 million years, the fossils of two individuals were found by a team from the California Institute of Technology. The first was found in Fresno County in 1939, near the geographical center of California. A second one was found in nearby San Benito County in 1941.
 

When the fossils were first uncovered, scientists classified them as Saurolophus, a type of hadrosaur first discovered in 1912. It was many years later that a team including NHMLA’s Dinosaur Institute Director Luis Chiappe decided that this dinosaur was unique — not just a new species, but a whole new genus as well. It was reclassified and given its new name: Augustynolophus morrisi, honoring two notable Californians: Dr. William J. Morris and Mrs. Gretchen Augustyn.