When you think of Massachusetts, you might conjure images of historic sites, prestigious universities, or clam chowder. But did you know that this state also has a rich history in paleontology? Yes, Massachusetts has an official state dinosaur, and it’s called the Podokesaurus holyokensis. This article will guide you through the fascinating world of the Massachusetts dinosaur, its discovery, significance, and how it became the state’s official dinosaur.
The Discovery of the Podokesaurus
The story begins in 1910 when Mignon Talbot, the first woman to name and describe a dinosaur, discovered the fossil of the Podokesaurus holyokensis near Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. This discovery was a significant milestone for both paleontology and women in science.
The Podokesaurus, named after the Greek words for “swift-footed lizard,” was a small, agile dinosaur that lived during the Early Jurassic period, approximately 200 million years ago. It was a theropod, meaning it walked on two legs, much like the more famous Tyrannosaurus rex. However, unlike the T-rex, the Podokesaurus was a small dinosaur, estimated to be about 3 to 6 feet long.
Massachusetts State Dinosaur
In 2021, after a campaign led by Massachusetts state legislators and supported by thousands of elementary school students, the Podokesaurus holyokensis was officially declared the state dinosaur of Massachusetts. The initiative aimed to promote interest in paleontology and natural history among young people while celebrating Massachusetts’ unique contributions to dinosaur research.
This distinction makes Massachusetts one of only twelve states in the U.S. to have an official state dinosaur, joining the ranks of states like New York and Colorado. It’s a testament to the state’s rich history and commitment to science education.
Dinosaur Tracks in Massachusetts
But the Podokesaurus isn’t the only evidence of dinosaurs in Massachusetts. The state is also home to several sites where dinosaur tracks and footprints have been preserved in stone. These sites provide valuable insights into the behavior and environment of dinosaurs during the Jurassic period.
One of these locations is Dinosaur Footprints, a reservation in Holyoke that houses hundreds of dinosaur track imprints. Visitors can walk along the reservation’s trails and see the footprints for themselves, offering a unique opportunity to step back in time and imagine the world as it was millions of years ago.
Visiting the Dinosaur Park Massachusetts
If you’re interested in learning more about the Podokesaurus and other dinosaurs, consider visiting the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. Here, you’ll find a replica of the Podokesaurus holyokensis, along with other fossils and artifacts. The museum is an excellent resource for both kids and adults looking to learn more about Massachusetts’ prehistoric past.
The story of the Podokesaurus holyokensis is not just about a dinosaur; it’s about the people of Massachusetts’ love for their state’s natural history. The designation of the Podokesaurus as the state dinosaur has sparked renewed interest in paleontology, encouraging a new generation to explore the fascinating world of dinosaurs.
So, whether you’re a resident of Massachusetts curious about your state symbols, a dinosaur enthusiast, or planning a visit to the Bay State, remember to add “see the state dinosaur” to your list of things to do. You’ll not only learn about the Podokesaurus but also about the state’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its natural history.
And if you ever find yourself in Holyoke, don’t forget to stop by the dinosaur footprints reservation or the Beneski Museum. Who knows? You might just catch a glimpse of the past that will inspire you to dig deeper into the world of dinosaurs and paleontology.
- “Massachusetts State Dinosaur – Podokesaurus holyokensis”. Statesymbolsusa.org. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
- “Dinosaur Footprints”. Trustees.org. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
- “Beneski Museum of Natural History”. Amherst.edu. Retrieved 2023-09-14.