Photograph at time of the discovery of Podokesaurus holyokensis
August 16, 1869|
Iowa City, Iowa
|Died||July 18, 1950(aged 80)|
|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. In the state of New York, she contributed to the Helderbergian crinoids and studied the faunas of Stafford limestone.
Born in Iowa City, she was a professor of Geology and Geography at Mount Holyoke College from 1904. In 1908, Talbot became professor and chairman of the Geology department. In 1929, she became the chairman of both Geology and Geography departments. 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 and almost all the specimens were destroyed, including the one extant partial skeleton of her Podokesaurus. Talbot retired in 1935 and is said to have remained passionate about her profession.
Research and findings
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. 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. It was formally described in June 1911 by Talbot herself, who thereby became the first woman to name a non-avian dinosaur.
Many of her research notes are considered historical artifacts. Talbot's contributions to geology were later reproduced into a collection decided upon by various scholars.
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