Missouri’s official state dinosaur: “Parrosaurus missouriensis.” (Image courtesy: Shutterstock)

JOPLIN, Mo. — Like most states in the U.S., Missouri has a complicated geological past. Several times throughout history, the land that is now the state of Missouri was completely underwater. At times, only some parts of the state were submerged while other portions were dry. Fortunately, sedimentation took place during the latter part of the Mesozoic period, so scientists have some evidence of dinosaurs that lived in Missouri.

But scientists have only found proof of roughly four different types of dinosaurs, even though others probably lived in Missouri. This first one, though, is the dinosaur that Missouri state officials chose to represent their state.

Missouri’s State Dinosaur

(Image courtesy: The Smithsonian Institute)

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the state dinosaur of Missouri is “Parrosaurus missouriensis.” This dinosaur was the first one discovered in the state in 1942. The large reptile became the state dinosaur in 2004, but not before the name of the dinosaur changed a few times.

When scientists first recovered the fossils, it was called “Neosaurus missouriensis.” Then in 1979, the name was changed to “Hypsibema missouriensis,” and that name stuck until 2018 when the name was once again revised to Parrosaurus missouriensis. It’s possible that you’ll find the former name on documents, but the state website has updated the official state dinosaur to Parrosaurus.

There are three other types of dinosaurs that scientists have identified as living the area that would later be known at the state of Missouri.

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Albertosaurus is a carnivore type of Tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaurs that have been found throughout North America. (Image courtesy: Shutterstock)

Paleontologists recovered and tried to identify the fossils of a small tyrannosaurid dinosaur found in Missouri. Although the teeth recovered were tentatively identified as Albertosaurus, some researchers doubt the dinosaur belongs to that type.

Albertosaurus have been found throughout North America, however they were originally discovered in the Alberta province in western Canada. A true Albertosaurus can grow up to 30 feet long, stand 11 feet tall, and weigh over 5,000 pounds. They were similar to Tyrannosaurus rex, but much smaller.


(Image courtesy: Shutterstock)

Paleontologists found bone fragments of an unidentified member of the Dromaeosauridae family at the Chronister site. Very little is known about the particular dinosaur that left behind those fossils. Generally, though, dromaeosaurids were small or medium feathery theropods.

These dinosaurs were bipedal carnivores that probably chased down their prey. Then, they used their claws to immobilize the animal while biting it to death.

Some of them were the size of turkeys, like Velociraptor, while others were tall enough to look a human in the eye. Future discoveries at the Chronister site or nearby could provide more information on the most likely species to which the remains belonged.

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(Image courtesy: Shutterstock)

While the Parrosaurus missouriensis was clearly identified, remains of other unknown hadrosaurids were also found in Missouri. Given that the remains came from the same time as the Parrosaurus, the remains may have belonged to that species. They could have also been from any number of hadrosaurs that lived throughout this part of North America during that era.

Where To Find Fossils Of Dinosaurs That Lived In Missouri

Because so few fossils exist from Missouri, it’s not likely that you’ll see actual fossils of dinosaurs that lived in Missouri at any of the museums in the state. However, you can see fossils of other dinosaurs at these locations: