Connecticut State Fossil
Dinosaur Tracks (common name)
Ichnites (scientific name) of Eubrontes giganteus
Ichnites, usually just called dinosaur tracks, are the fossilized footprints of dinosaurs. Dinosaur tracks provide important scientific information about the behavior, foot structure, posture, gait, chronology, environment, and geographic distribution of dinosaurs. However, for many years, most paleontologists seemed to place little importance on dinosaur tracks, viewing them mainly as curiosities. This attitude has changed in recent years, and ichnology, the study of evidence left by an animal while it was alive, was revived in the 1980s.
Approximately 200 million years ago, the single continent of Pangaea began to divide, forming the Atlantic Ocean. The resulting mudflats created the perfect environment for capturing dinosaur tracks. This explains why ichnites, mainly from the Triassic and Jurassic periods, are common along the east coast of the United States today. Fossilized dinosaur footprints have also been found in many western states, as well as in present-day Yemen, Scotland, Australia, and many other locations worldwide.
Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, is famous for its 200-million-year-old, three-toed dinosaur tracks and the life-size dioramas that have been built to represent scenes from the Age of Dinosaurs. The tracks were discovered in the Rocky Hill area during a 1966 construction project. With over 2000 tracks, the park is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. The dinosaur that made many three-toed tracks found in Connecticut has been given the name Eubrontes giganteus, although no remains of the animal have been found. The evidence in the ichnites suggests thatEubrontes was related to the bipedal predator Dilophosaurus. Eubrontes giganteus was designated the state fossil of Connecticut in 1991.
The first fossilized dinosaur footprints that were scientifically described can be seen at Dinosaur Footprints Reservation in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Ichnites were made the state fossil of Massachusetts in 1980.
The word ichnite comes from the Greek word ίχνος (ichnos), meaning a track or footstep.
Fossilized dinosaur tracks occurred when dinosaurs left footprints in mud in dry lakebeds, mudflats, and alluvial plains. Only when the mud was the right consistency—not too wet and not too dry—could the prints remain. Prints were filled with sediment that later solidified into rock, preserving the footprint as a fossil.
Native Americans probably knew of dinosaur ichnites before European settlers did. However, the discovery of the Connecticut River Valley tracks was the first recorded discovery of dinosaur remains in North America. A farm boy named Pliny Moody discovered them in 1802 and hung a slab of mud containing these dinosaur tracks on the family farmhouse. Dinosaurs had not yet been discovered at that time, and the tracks were thought to belong to birds. (Birds are now known to be closely related to dinosaurs.)
Fossilized dinosaur tracks preserved in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, are available for public viewing at Dinosaur Valley State Park. A controversy arose several years ago when some claimed that tracks of human footprints ran alongside the dinosaur prints. The claims that human footprints, teeth, or other remains have been found with dinosaur fossils have been investigated and found to be mistakes or misrepresentations. Further, the claims are not credible; humans did not appear on earth until 60 million years after the extinction of dinosaurs.
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|Author: World Trade Press|