By Bob Katzen
The Senate approved a bill that would make the Podokesaurus holyokensis the state’s official dinosaur. The House approved the bill in October and only final approval in the House and Senate are needed prior to the measure going to Gov. Charlie Baker.
Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham), the House sponsor of the proposal, said that while the initial idea grew out of his work with his son’s cub scout den, more than 35,000 Massachusetts residents took part in a poll to help determine which of two dinosaurs discovered in Massachusetts should earn the designation of the official state dinosaur. The runner up was the Anchisaurus polyzelus.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the passion that our Massachusetts State Dinosaur Project would generate,” said Lewis. “I will always be grateful to the thousands of students and their parents and teachers who took the time to learn about prehistoric Massachusetts and all of the paleontologists and fellow dinosaur enthusiasts who made this project such a fun success. But none of this would have been possible without the remarkable Massachusetts professor Mignon Talbot of Mt. Holyoke College who in 1910 became the first modern woman to discover, name and describe a dinosaur.”
Senate sponsor Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) said that at the time Talbot discovered the species, some critics said that women were unfit for working with fossils. “Talbot’s discovery showed that women were fully qualified for all roles in science,” said Comerford. “As both a tribute to a dinosaur whose fossils have only been discovered in Massachusetts, and as a reflection of the commonwealth’s commitment to equality and the advancement of women, this legislation has already inspired excitement and engagement from researchers, academics and students.