Podokesaurus ‭(swift-footed lizard)

Short Info

Podokesaurus ‭(swift-footed lizard)

Phonetic : Poe-doe-key-sore-us.

Named By : Mignon Talbot‭ ‬-‭ ‬1911

Diet : Insectivore / Carnivore

Size : Estimated 90 cm long

Type of Dinosaur : Small Theropod

Type Species : P.‭ ‬holyokensis‭ (‬type‭)

Found in : USA,‭ ‬-‭ ‬Portland Formation

When it Lived : Mid Jurassic, 195-180 million years ago

Podokesaurus, a genus coelophysoid dinosaurus, lived in the Eastern United States during the Early Jurassic Period. Mignon Talbot, a geologist from Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts, discovered the first fossil in 1910. It was fragmentary and preserved much of its body, limbs and tail. Based on the specimen, Talbot named and described the new genus and symbiosis Podokesaurus holyokensis in 1911. The full name of the species can be translated to “swift footed lizard from Holyoke”. Talbot was the first woman to describe and find a non-bird dinosaur after this discovery. It was recognized as a significant fossil and was examined by other researchers. However, it was destroyed in 1917 when the building where it was stored was torn down. Since then, no definitive Podokesaurus specimens were discovered. In 2021, it was named the state dinosaur of Massachusetts.


Podokesaurus holotypeProvided by Mignon Talbot (1869 – 1950), published by Gerhard Heilman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Podokesaurus is estimated to have measured approximately 1 m (3 ft), in length, and weighed between 1-40 and 90 lb (2-90 lb). The vertebrae were light and hollow and some had slight concave ends. The length and diameter of the cervical (neck) vertebrae was much greater than the dorsal and back vertebrae. Meanwhile, the length and width of the caudal and tail vertebrae was relatively short. The humerus (upper arm bone) was smaller and more delicate than the femur, thigh-bone. The pubis (pubic bones) was extremely long and expanded at both the front- and back ends. The femur was almost straight and had thin walls. It was also expanded at its lower end. The compact structure was formed by the three metatarsals on the lower leg.

It was one of few small theropods that was known at the time of its description. This made it difficult to determine Podokesaurus’ affinities. It was placed with other small theropods in the family Podokesauridae. Some speculated that it was a proto-bird. Although it was initially suggested that it was a synonym for Coelophysis, a natural cast specimen was given to it. These ideas are not accepted at the moment. The family Podokesauridae has been replaced by Coelophysidae and Podokesaurus was thought to be a coelophysoid. Podokesaurus was a predator that could have run at speeds of up to 15 km/h (9-12 mph) and had strong forelimbs. It also had grasping hands. It could have run between 15-20 km/h (9-12 miles per hour). Podokesaurus is thought to have been collected from the Portland Formation, the age of which has long been unclear, but is currently believed to date to the Hettangian-Sinemurian stages of the Early Jurassic, between 201 and 190 million years ago.

Source: Wikipedia