Mignon Talbot

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Mignon Talbot
Mignon Talbot.jpg
Photograph at time of the discovery of Podokesaurus holyokensis
Born (1869-08-16)August 16, 1869
Iowa City, Iowa
Died July 18, 1950(1950-07-18) (aged 80)
Citizenship American
Fields Geology, Geography
Institutions Mount Holyoke College

Mignon Talbot (August 16, 1869 – July 18, 1950) was an American paleontologist who recovered the only fossils of the dinosaur, Podokesaurus holyokensis, located near Mount Holyoke College in 1910 and published a scientific description of the fossil in 1911. She was the first woman to become a member of the Paleontological Society.[1] In the state of New York, she contributed to the Helderbergian crinoids and studied the faunas of Stafford limestone.[1]

Born in Iowa City, she was a professor of Geology and Geography at Mount Holyoke College from 1904.[2] In 1908, Talbot became professor and chairman of the Geology department. In 1929, she became the chairman of both Geology and Geography departments.[1] During her thirty-one years at Mount Holyoke College, she amassed a large collection of invertebrate fossils and Triassic footprints and minerals. Unfortunately, the museum burned down in 1917[3] and almost all the specimens were destroyed, including the one extant partial skeleton of her Podokesaurus.[4] Talbot retired in 1935 and is said to have remained passionate about her profession.[1]

Research and findings[edit]

Talbot was the first female paleontologist to spontaneously discover the fossils of the dinosaur Podokesaurus holyokensis. The fossils were found near Mount Holyoke college where she was a professor. The location was by the Connecticut River between two outcroppings of mountains in a bed of sandstone.[3] During a meeting at the Paleontological Society in December 1910, the dinosaur was first labelled as a herbivore by Talbot. As her research continued she also identified the creature as theropod and alongside Yale University professor Richard Swan Lull. Colleague of Lull, Friedrich von Huene took Podokesaurus holyokensis to a new family based on genus.[5] It was formally described in June 1911 by Talbot herself, who thereby became the first woman to name a non-avian dinosaur.[6]

Many of her research notes are considered historical artifacts. Talbot's contributions to geology were later reproduced into a collection[7] decided upon by various scholars.


Talbot attended Ohio State University where she received her undergraduate degree and received her doctorate degree from Yale University in 1904.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Elder, Eleanor S. (2016-08-25). "WOMEN IN EARLY GEOLOGY". Journal of Geological Education. 30 (5): 287–293. doi:10.5408/0022-1368-30.5.287. 
  2. ^ Mount Holyoke College. Mignon Talbot Biography Verified 2011-01-06.
  3. ^ a b Doezema, Marianne (2002). Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke. United States of America: Cornell University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780801441196. 
  4. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy, eds. (2000). "Talbot, Mignon". The biographical dictionary of women in science : pioneering lives from ancient times to the mid-20th century. New York: Routledge. pp. 1263–1264. ISBN 9780415920407. 
  5. ^ Moody, Richard (2010). Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Prospective. Geological Society of London. pp. 125–126. ISBN 9781862393110. 
  6. ^ Turner, S., Burek, C. & Moody, R.T., 2010, "Forgotten women in an extinct Saurian 'mans' World", In: Moody, R.T., Buffetaut, E., Martill, D. & Naish, D. Eds. Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective. The Geological Society, London, Special Publication, 343: 111-153
  7. ^ Talbot, Mignon (2012). Revision of the New York Helderbergian Crinoids. United States of America: Nabu Press. ISBN 9781286816172. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kass-Simon, Gabrielle; Farnes, Patricia; Nash, Deborah, eds. (1999). Women of science : righting the record ([Nachdr] ed.). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana Univ. Press. pp. 60, 65. ISBN 9780253208132. 
  • Levin, Miriam R. (2005). Defining women's scientific enterprise : Mount Holyoke faculty and the rise of American science. Hanover: University press of New England. p. 135. ISBN 9781584654193. 
  • Moody, R.T.J.; Buffetaut, Eric; Naish, Darren; et al., eds. (2010). Dinosaurs and other extinct saurians : a historical perspective. London: Geological Society. pp. 125–127. ISBN 978-1862393110. 

External links[edit]