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Delaware's official state dinosaur is signed into law

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Delaware has a new state dinosaur, and it might be even scarier than a T-Rex.

The state picked which prehistoric reptile got to hold the title of Official State Dinosaur by enlisting the help of middle schoolers.

House Bill 390, which designates the Dryptosauridae as the state dinosaur, was drafted in part by students at Shue-Medill Middle School.

The bill was championed by State Rep. Paul Baumbach, who reached out to Shue-Medill.

Students were tasked with researching different dinosaurs, and the entire school voted to make the final decision. The research done by the students was also included in the bill, under the whereas clauses, to explain why this dinosaur best represents Delaware.

One of the reasons was the fact that the Dryptosauridae was bird-like, which is reminiscent of the Delaware blue hen, the official state bird and overall well-known symbol in the state.

Students also related the dinosaur’s reliance on speed to escape from predators, and once again its bird-like qualities, to the Dover Air Force base.

London Natural History Museum
Dino Directory

The Dryptosauridae also exhibited similar qualities to Delaware’s shore birds by eating along the shoreline, which students believe can serve as a reminder to protect Delaware's coastline ecosystems.

Some Shue-Medill eight graders accompanied Baumbach to the bill’s hearing. All of the students present spoke on the House floor.

Natali Gogoladze was among those students, and was praised by educators and government officials alike for expertly fielding questions from legislators.

“At first when we all individually got up and gave a speech to everyone it was really nerve wracking because we didn’t really know we were quite signing up for it, but still in a way did,” explained Gogoladze. “And then questions came toward us, and as we spoke more and more I definitely got more confident, and I think so did everyone else.”

Alina Wang is another student who worked on the bill. She says this experience helped her understand the legislative process.

“Because of this project I was able to learn a lot more about each of the processes, and I was really honored to go through this myself,” said Wang.

Governor John Carney signed the bill into law in a ceremony at Shue-Medill Middle School. He says that the work on this bill is representative of the close relationship between Delawareans and their legislators, and it was a great way for students to learn about the legislative process.

“I think the most important thing is to understand that it’s a Democratic process and they have a say in it, they have a voice. And this gave them a voice, showed them how it works, how you go to the legislature and testify, make your arguments for the legislation. And then the members, who represent them and others across the state vote one way or the other,” said Carney.

The bill passed unanimously.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021.