Massachusetts Adds an Official State Dinosaur

States have a lot of pride. Residents will brag about what makes their state the greatest to people from other states. This sense of pride creates a sense of camaraderie and shared understanding as individuals relate to others from their home state. State pride naturally extends to sports teams and other points of interest. But then there are the things that seem almost silly to be proud of, such as a state flower or song. Every state has its own set of officially designated state commodities. For example, my home state of Massachusetts has an official state cookie (the chocolate chip). Although a strange thing to take pride in, I am proud that we invented one of the greatest cookies of all time. 

In January, Massachusetts State Representative Jack Lewis published a poll giving Massachusetts residents the opportunity to vote on the official state dinosaur. My initial impression was, why a state dinosaur? It seems unnecessary. My question now, however, is — why not?

Residents had the option of choosing between the Podokesaurus holyokensis and the Anchisaurus polyzelus. 

Discovered in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1855 by Edward Hitchcock, the Anchisaurus polyzelus is about six feet in length and measures between 60 and 75 pounds in size. Not much is known about the Anchisaurus. Usually paleontologists are able to discern whether a species was an herbivore or carnivore. In the case of the Anchisaurus, there are confusing features, such as it having the expanded gut common in herbivores, but also having sharpened, extended claws like a carnivore would. Whether the Anchisaurus is an herbivore or carnivore remains to be decided, but this one found in Springfield is one of very few discovered fossils of the species.

Discovered by Mignon Talbot in 1911 near Mount Holyoke, the Podokesaurus holyokensis is one of a few dinosaurs unearthed by a woman. The discovery of the mostly complete Podokesaurus fossil was crucial. At a time when most people still didn’t believe in the existence of dinosaurs, the discovery of one so large helped reaffirm their existence. Additionally, the Podekesaurus was one of the earliest discovered carnivores, enabling paleontologists to learn more about dinosaur diets.

I’m pleased to announce the winner and Massachusetts’ new official state dinosaur — the Podokesaurus holyokensis. While not the most obvious source of state pride, I’m excited that we chose a dinosaur discovered by a woman, and it’s a cool fun-fact to share with people. Thirteen other states as well as Washington D.C. also have official state dinosaurs. Does yours?