Scottsdale boy gets the ball rolling for official state dinosaur

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

If you want to know anything about dinosaurs, 11-year-old Jax Weldon from Scottsdale is the one to ask.

"Ever since I was two, I have been obsessed with dinosaurs," said Jax, a student at Hopi Elementary School.

He is always ready to answer a dinosaur question, as our April Warneke found out when she asked Jax about the Sonorasaurus Thompsoni.

"Sonorasaurus Thompsoni was a herbivorous sauropod, that was about 50 feet tall, no wait," Jax corrects himself, "27 feet tall and 50 feet long. It had a long neck which allowed it to reach the top of the trees, which were an abundant food source, because no other animal could reach them."

So as you might expect, the answer to what he wants to be when he grows up is, "I want to be a paleontologist."

While his heart is set on studying dinosaurs, it turns out Jax already has a promising career as a lobbyist. Just ask state senator Kate Brophy-McGee. 

"And he knew of a dinosaur that was discovered in Arizona back in 1995, named the Sonorasaurus Thompsoni and he thought that would be a good candidate for an official state dinosaur," Brophy-McGee said.

Jax picks up the story, "So I just wrote a letter to the governor this is actually the letter right here. So what I did is just wrote the letter and I sent it to him." 

Brophy-McGee saw the letter when the governor asked her to run a state dinosaur bill. 

"He touted the case for economic development, he touted the case for tourism. He made the case that this is something that will put Arizona in a good light," Brophy-McGee said.

Jax shared part of his argument, reading from his letter. 

"Another reason I would suggest this dinosaur is it is large. The general  public likes big dinosaurs, this could boost Arizona’s economy and create great opportunities for Arizona museums and bring people from all over the country."

All of which got the ball rolling, senator Brophy-McGee sponsored a bill that would make the Sonorasaurus Thompsoni the official Arizona state dinosaur. But she says it is also about much more than dinosaurs.

"I have received emails and phone calls from kids all over my district, really all over the state. From their parents saying this is a great bill. My child is following the legislative bill, they want to know where is the bill in the process….it is a very, very teachable bill, very understandable bill, and it is a fun bill," Brophy-McGee said.

The bill has made it through the state senate and is now in the house.

"I got 24 house members to sign on with help from my seatmates in district 28, Maria Syms and Kelly Butler," Brophy-McGee said.

Of course Jax is watching the whole process, and while the Sonorasaurus Thompsoni is not necessarily his favorite dinosaur, he is still ready to help it take its place in Arizona history.

"My favorite dinosaur has been the triceratops since I was two," Jax said. 

"So if this gets passed, you will be part of Arizona history," Warnecke reminds him.

"Yeah. That is pretty cool," Jax smiles.

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