For the 50+ Traveler

What started as a project for a Cub Scouts chapter has put Massachusetts on the verge of having an official state dinosaur.

Representative Jack Lewis wanted to teach his son’s Cub Scout group about the legislative process based on something that would interest them. What better subject than dinosaurs, the Framingham Democrat thought.

So the scouts researched dinosaurs, determined two finalists for the honor, and Lewis put the matter up to a vote on social media.

More than 35,000 people weighed in, and their choice was the podokesaurus holyokensis, a dinosaur that roamed the Massachusetts region about 180 million years ago.

Hypothetical life restoration of podokesaurus holyokensis.

“I didn’t expect this kind of response, and I’m so grateful for it,” Lewis told The Associated Press.

The winner of the contest was announced during a live broadcast by the Boston Museum of Science earlier this month. Lewis then introduced legislation to make the podokesaurus holyokensis the official state dinosaur.

The bill already has 12 co-sponsors and seems destined for passage during this legislative session. If that happens, it will make Massachusetts the 12th state with an official dinosaur.

“If this project helps even one museum to revisit some of their specimens long locked away in the vaults of the museum, then who knows what we’re going to discover in Massachusetts in the future,” Lewis said.

Know as the swift-footed lizard of Holyoke, fossils of the podokesaurus holyokensis were unearthed in Massachusetts in 1910 by Mignon Talbot, the first female scientist to name and describe a dinosaur.

It was 3 to 6 feet in length and weighed about 90 pounds.

Lewis is hoping this process, the public vote, and passage of his bill will inspire students to learn about the legislative process, paleontology, and encourage more girls to consider STEM careers.

“There is also such great energy around how this project can not only elevate Professor Mignon Talbot, and make sure that her story is more well known, but also how to ensure that fields like paleontology, which historically have not been fields of study that women have been attracted to in the same numbers as men, but how we can reflect on the role of women in science and the role of inspiring today’s younger generation of women,” Lewis told Mass Live.

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