Check Out Massachusetts’ New State Dinosaur


In addition to a state dog (the Boston terrier) and a state bird (the chickadee), Massachusetts now has an official state dinosaur: the Holyoke fast-footed lizard.

On Wednesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, surrounded by a group of paleontologists and lawmakers, celebrated the law naming the swift-footed lizard, also known as Podokesaurus Holyokensis, the state’s official dinosaur during a a ceremony at the Boston Science Museum. The state legislature passed the bill in May, according to a statement from the Museum of Science.

The first – and only – known Podokesaurus fossil was discovered in 1910 by geologist Mignon Talbot near Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts, after which the species is named. According to the Museum of Science, the two-legged, hollow-boned carnivore was about 3 to 6 feet long and weighed up to 90 pounds.

State Rep. Jack Lewis, who sponsored the bill, told CNN the idea for the bill came about as a pandemic passion project. He was looking for ways to make the virtual Cub Scout meetings he hosted more exciting for attendees.

« Soon I came across the fact that a dozen states had already declared an official state dinosaur, but Massachusetts was not one of them, » he said in a statement sent to CNN. .

So he contacted prominent paleontologists and « the idea of ​​the State Dinosaur Project was conceived ».

Lewis held a poll and more than 35,000 residents voted for their favorite of the two dinosaurs discovered in Massachusetts. « The Podokesaurus Holyokensis has become an obvious favourite, » Lewis said. The losing dinosaur was Anchisaurus polyzelus, discovered in Springfield, Massachusetts.

He filed legislation alongside State Senator Jo Comerford and State Representatives Mindy Domb and Dan Carey to officially recognize Podokesaurus as the state dinosaur.

The project helped connect Massachusetts residents with their representatives, Lewis said. And it helped shine a light on the achievements of female scientists like Talbot, the first woman to be elected to the Paleontological Society.

“The Science Museum and other STEM advocates have brought the story of Professor Talbot and his discovery into classroom conversations in hopes of further increasing the number of women and girls in science careers,” wrote Lewis.

« I could never have imagined the ultimate breadth and depth of this project, or how badly we all needed something fun and educational to bring us together at the height of the pandemic, » said- he continued.

« I will never again doubt the power of dinosaurs to inspire, connect and educate. »

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