PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island is one signature away from naming a state fossil.

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would designate the extinct ocean arthropod trilobite as the state’s fossil. The House passed its version of the bill last month.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Alana DiMario, is the brainchild of Narragansett High School student Gary Jennison.

Rhode Island is one of four states that has not named a state fossil, which is why Jennison made the designation his senior project.

“About half a billion years ago, the trilobites emerged and they’re basically the precursor to nearly all arthropods on the planet today,” Jennison told the House Special Legislation Committee during a recent hearing on the bill. “They died out about 250 million years ago during the Permian extinction event, but their evolutionary descendants continue to this day in the forms of thousands upon thousands of different species, really all across the Kingdom Animalia.”

Jennison testified that the trilobite provides information that is important to the students of plate tectonics, environmental science and oceanography.

While not unique to Rhode Island, the trilobite is one of the relatively few fossils that can be found in the state. That’s because the area was a “geological late bloomer,” according to Jennison.

Jennison said trilobites are most commonly found in Jamestown, though they can be uncovered anywhere in the state.

“Gary really took the initiative to bring his idea to life, and convincingly demonstrated why an ancient bit of geological history actually has relevance to Rhode Island today,” DiMario said. “Besides serving as a model for how young people can have a hand in democracy, his work will doubtlessly result in generations of kids — and adults — in Rhode Island who learn a little bit about the trilobite and how it illustrates the development of life on this planet.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Dan McKee’s desk for his signature. McKee hasn’t said whether he will sign the bill into law.

If he does, the trilobite will stand alongside the state’s official coralbug and marine mammal, all of which have been designated in recent years.

Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have designated dinosaur tracks as their state fossils, while Hawaii, Iowa and New Hampshire are the three other states that have yet to designate a state fossil.