|Name Translation||Arkansas lizard|
|Location||Southwestern Arkansas (United States)|
Arkansaurus fridayi is a genus of dinosaur that was discovered in Lockesburg, Arkansas. It was a bipedal ornithomimid dinosaur. Its nearest relative is the ornithomimid Nedcolbertia. It is named for the state of Arkansas and its discoverer J.B. Friday, who found the dinosaur's fossilized foot on his farm in 1972. It is the only dinosaur fossil ever found in Arkansas.
Friday found the bones while searching for a cow on his property. He donated the bones to the University of Arkansas. Dr. James H. Quinn, then a member of the University's Geology Department, prepared the bones and took them to the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Lincoln, Nebraska. Once there, the bones were examined by experts from both the US and Europe. They were declared to be the remains of an Ornithomimus, although if true, the bones would be the oldest remains ever found of this species.
Upon returning from the meeting, Dr. Quinn and Benjamin Clardy of the Arkansas Geological Commission went to the area on the Friday farm where the remains had been discovered, hoping to find more remains. The site was a pit that had been dug for road construction and the fossils had been taken from an Early Cretaceous deposit within. Unfortunately, all the scientists were able to find was a toe bone. They speculated that the bones had either been scattered when they were buried or during the road construction. In all there were three metatarsals, three phalanges, three claws and two vertebrae found of the Arkansaurus.
Three casts of the bones were made. These casts were given to the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Geological Commission, and the Arkansas Museum of Science and Natural History. The University cast is hanging in a classroom in Ozark Hall. The Museum of Science and Natural History actually had a large statue of the dinosaur constructed to go along with their cast, and it was on display for many years when the museum was located at the Tower Building. The original bones currently reside at the University of Arkansas Museum Collections, now housed at the Arkansas Archaeological Survey in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
While there has been speculation of a hoax outside the field, the Arkansaurus material is known to be legitimate dinosaur fossils to researchers. In addition to ReBecca Hunt (Bureau of Land Management), Dan Chure (Dinosaur National Monument), J. McFarland (Arkansas Geological commission), and J. Kirkland (Utah State Paleontologist) have all examined the specimen. Kirkland considered it possibly a representative of Nedcolbertia.
In January 2017 Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, submitted a bill to the Arkansas Legislature to designate Arkansaurus as the State Dinosaur, along with several consignors. The original idea of the bill came from high school student Mason Cypress Oury, who, accompanied by Rep. Leding, presented a modified version of the bill to a House panel, and answered questions. Among his reasoning for adopting the Arkansaurus as the state dinosaur Oury pointed out that Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri all have listed state dinosaurs, and Arkansas already has 24 designated state symbols, and since it was the 25th state to be admitted to the union, it made sense to add one more. The motion to pass the bill on to the house for a vote passed unanimously.
In March 2018, Arkansaurus was officially described and finally gained an official scientific name. This recognition was in part due to the recent attention given to the dinosaur by the state during its selection as state dinosaur.